Why I changed my mind

(Mervin Bitikofer) #502

My take on that verse is that “enmity” would refer to our enmity against God, which is revealed by the law and our own lawlessness revealed by that law.

(Vlad K. I'm an Agnostic Atheist) #503

How could Christ abolish the Law, when he himself said that he came not to abolish it?

Oh what a tangled web

(GJDS) #504

For someone who has rejected the Christian faith, you seem to have gone to a lot of trouble regarding its doctrines and scripture. Care to say why you have such a strange and intense interest?

(Mervin Bitikofer) #505

There are tangles … there is much in Scriptures that is worthy of deeper study and is not “simply understood as read without any interpretation” such as some here want to insist. And then there are Tangles – of the sort when something is genuinely incoherent and its proponents want to hide the truth of their incoherence behind confusion. You seem to think Christianity is the latter sort of Tangle, but that doesn’t mean it actually is. Taste and see.

Christ did come to do something significant with regard to the law. In his sermon on the mount (Matthew 5) Jesus tells us that the law is not abolished but fulfilled (and he goes on to say that “not one stroke of a letter will pass from the law until all is accomplished”). So on the surface this sounds like all the law of Moses is still in full force for everybody. But you could only maintain that conclusion by not reading the rest of the gospels or new testament. A more accurate understanding is this: the law shows us how badly we fall short before God and how badly we need the grace on offer given to us through Christ. And it continues to reveal our desperate need today. In that sense none of the law is abolished. BUT … it is fulfilled when Christ reigns, the law becomes an old, [mostly] no longer needed prop. Think of it this way. The law tells us we should not murder or steal. If we all had the spirit of Christ and loved our neighbor as ourselves, would we need to be told not to murder and not to steal? Absolutely not! Those particular restrictions would be unnecessary. It wouldn’t be that they were no longer in force, it would be that we moved way beyond those! Not only are we not murdering or stealing from our neighbors, we are busy loving them! Or why do we have speed limits laws? Again, those are for the law breakers who don’t use good judgement on the roads. If we all had the “right spirit” exercising good judgement in how we drive, we would drive safe speeds without needing to be told to do so.

And in Christ, yes – there are certain freedoms; but we are to take care how we use them. We are bound by a higher law of love which is actually more demanding than a former law of minimal (but still something we can’t get right when left to ourselves) legalisms. That higher law of love might actually demand that I do speed slightly if love demands it and I am taking a loved one to the emergency room or some other urgent matter takes higher precedence. But the law is still the law and it is there for a reason. Being aware of that reason (the spirit of the law) I would still have to drive in the knowledge that my faster speed begins to imperil my passengers and myself, not to mention other drivers; and I cannot let that consideration go completely unattended even if I was rushing someone to the hospital. It would all need to be balanced in that higher law of love. And it is a more demanding law of us than the former set of legalisms ever were. If we have scorned those, we certainly will not (without Christ’s help) be aspiring to the higher law of love. But when we finally do, we realize that this love, in the end, is what all the law and the prophets have their words hanging on.

[correcting / clarifying edits added]

(Vlad K. I'm an Agnostic Atheist) #506

I used to be a very fervent believer. Can’t you tell? :slight_smile:

(Richard Wright) #507

Hello Vlad,

Please allow me to interject myself into this debate. :slight_smile:

This is actually an easy, “problem”. In fact, there is no problem at all. Here is the referred-to passage:

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not 
come to abolish them but to fulfill them.  For truly I tell you, until heaven 
and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, 
will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished."  
(Matthew 5:17-8)

Jesus is the prophesied Messiah. He live in the Old Testament era and came here to teach, set an example and ultimately die as a sacrifice for sins (Isaiah 53). So one, he is the fulfillment of the law since Moses taught that an Israelite prophet would be raised up by God and the people must listen to him (Deuteronomy 18:5). Two, “until everything is accomplished” at least to me, is Jesus being crucified, raised from the dead, giving the great commission to baptize disciples and the start of the church. So in Jesus lifetime the law was in effect and in fact he didn’t come to abolish it, rather to create a new way to God. At that point the law became spiritually meaningless.

Hope that helps!


“Abolish” was a rabbinic term that meant “to destroy through misinterpretation and misapplication.”

Jesus was the “end” of the Law. Specifically, the telos, the goal or intention of the Law. This is how he “fulfills” the Law (double meaning: to “interpret correctly, and thus uphold,” as well as “bring about its intention”).

(GJDS) #509

Would I be right in assuming your were a fanatical/fundamental believer and then you became a strident/fanatical opposer of the Christian faith? Feel free to correct me on this matter as I cannot claim any insights regarding fervent believers who become otherwise.

(Roger A. Sawtelle) #510

Jesus the Messiah superseded the Law. The is a big difference.

(Richard Wright) #511

Hello John,

We have freedom of choice, unless you want to go the, “naturalistic determinism” route, which I’m sure you don’t. Hitler’s brain didn’t force him to do anything. He consciously chose to systematically kidnap and exterminate millions of people. There really is no logical explanations for acts like those besides a force affecting his consciousness, soul or whatever you’d like to call it of the perpetrator(s).

That’s a shocking understatement, John, of Hitler’s actions. The consequences are still being felt to this day and can never be quantified, as with any genocide. The suffering of the murdered and their loved ones from evil acts like that need an explanation. And the only one that makes any sense is an evil force.

My I ask what exactly are you doing to ensure positive actions? The world obviously hasn’t changed much, since after WWII leaders have committed genocides or mass murders of millions - Pol Pot (killed 30% of his own country and his Khmer Rouge inflected sick torture on thousands), Stalin, and Mao Zedong and others on a smaller scale, to this day.

If you don’t believe the physical explains everything, then you believe in the spiritual. And it only makes sense that the spiritual orders the physical.

That puts you at odds with the leaders of your philosophical movement, who all look for answers somewhere, usually with science, because to them this universe demands answers. Just yesterday it was announced that Stephen Hawking thinks he knows what could have happened before the Big Bang. Of course, he has no evidence whatsoever to back his claims and admits that it’s a theory that can never be proven.

The bible in Hebrews 11 defines having faith as, “assurance about what we do not see”. Anyone posting here understands that if the God of the bible exists, then this life can lead to an eternal life. If yourself and @T_aquaticus hold open the possibility of the existence of God, then what you’re really saying that the appearance of life-giving universe isn’t enough evidence for God, even though you admit that science will never determine how we got here. T-aquaticus, as seen in his postings here and elsewhere, has faith that there is a scientific answer, but that we may never determine it. You have faith that God isn’t the answer based on the evidence. There is faith involved, that there is possibly another answer besides God, and your possible eternal destinies depend on it. You’ve both been affected by Dawkins’ unwritten reasons for not believing in God, which are:

  1. Science explains everything.
  2. Evolution disproves God and the bible.
  3. The universe not being created in 6 days disproves God and the bible.
  4. The fact that God doesn’t appear in the sky, TV or on peoples’ phones disproves the notion of God.
  5. The fact that Jesus and the prophets lived in a time without video evidence proves that faith is not based on anything real.
  6. The fact that there are many religions proves that none are from God.

Put another way, 14 billion years ago, a infinitesimally small point contained all matter, energy and laws of physics that allowed the universe to evolve to intelligent, conscious beings. This universe is unthinkably large. Our experience in this universe teaches us that large, powerful things that contain intelligence must have been created by a powerful, intelligent entity, that most call God. If you don’t acknowledge God, then you must have another explanation for this universe, but other explanations will never be determined, according to our understanding of this realm. So there is faith in not accepting and/or acknowledging God.


Atheists tend not to be convinced by an argument from ignorance or the God of the Gaps.

Where is this seen? You seem intent on projecting your faith onto others.

I am not part of that “our”.

It would require faith to believe in a God of the Gaps, but faith is not required to not believe in a God of the Gaps. Not believing in something does not require faith.

(Roger A. Sawtelle) #513

But faith is required for life, to get up in the morning and do what we need to do.

So if that is the case, What do you have faith in, Science?


What do I do each day that requires a positive belief in the unseeable and unknowable?

I don’t need faith in scientific theories because they are based on evidence. I think the scientific method is the best approach for answering questions about how the universe works, but I have no faith that this approach will figure everything out. If that is faith, then you are using such a broad definition as to make it meaningless.

(Vlad K. I'm an Agnostic Atheist) #515

I was very serious in my faith. Definitely a bit (or a lot) OCDish. From a young age, an idea of having to be right with eternal consequences was instilled in me. This caused untold searching and reasoning on various subjects pertaining to the faith. The last one I seriously struggled with was Soteriology. I came to realization that the gospel message is contradictory and that realization, coupled with life experience (i.e. No supernatural guidance, etc) opened the door to secular view points. And on these I stand today.

(Vlad K. I'm an Agnostic Atheist) #516

Well, a new way technically abolished the old one, which Jesus did not come to abolish.

Consider that Jesus did not have kind words to say about those teaching against the Law of Moses

Matt 5: 18 For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. 19 Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven

Modern Christianity, thanks to Paul, sets aside all of the Law. Let’s think about this. IF Jesus came to abolish the Law, how would the teachings be any different?

(Vlad K. I'm an Agnostic Atheist) #517

Is there a difference, in your view, between stepping into an airplane, believing the plane will fly you and stepping out of 100 story building, flapping your arms believing you can fly (without a parachute)? Is there a difference between these two? Or would you say both of these require same faith?

(GJDS) #518

It is interesting to me to read your comments - I too was born into the Christian tradition and as a student I questioned many things, including politics, religion, sociological/ psychological, and philosophical matters. This took me some time and I tried to see and hear as much as possible, especially from the various traditions and denominations. The end result was that I was convinced that the only authentic approach to human existence was found in the gospel, and further readings and experiences showed me (or continued the revelation) the profound riches found in the doctrines of orthodox Christianity.

It seems our experiences are profoundly, completely, different.

(John Dalton) #519

I’m interested in this too.

It seems to me that belief is required. As a mundane example, I leave home every day possessing a firm belief that the bus will arrive and take me to work. There’s a lot of evidence that it will, but I don’t have proof or look for it. However, my belief is entirely conditional. I implicitly recognize that there are factors which could cause the bus not to arrive. I don’t hold the arrival of the bus to be a definite truth of any sort.

It seems to me that faith as generally held by religious people is not conditional in the same way. This isn’t to say that faith cannot rest on evidence.

(Roger A. Sawtelle) #520

Yes, there is a good chance that the bus will take you to work, unless the driver goes berserk, unless there is a terrible accident, unless there is a car bombing, unless … And what happens if you get to work and you find that you are fired or the company is out of business… Yes, these are possibilities, not probabilities, but some people are consumed by worry, because of their lack of faith.

I hear of many conspiracy theories that are impossible to disprove, which also distort our understanding of Reality and strike fear in the hearts of many, because they do not have faith in others.

I hear that that the number of suicides is rising, because it would seem that people lack faith. Depression seems to be caused by a lack of faith.

We need faith in ourselves and faith in others as well as faith in science. I am concerned that the spectacle in the Washington will reduce the people’s faith in their government and thus each other.

(Vlad K. I'm an Agnostic Atheist) #521

I remember coming across a very vocal (on the Christian forums) group, called “Christadelphians”, or brethren of Christ. They reject the divinity of Jesus and I remember being perplexed at their denial of the Trinity. And yet, there they are, even today. Same can be said about the Jehovah’s Witness, who also deny the Trinity, however, unlike the Christadelphians, they affirm a pre-existence of Jesus, albeit not in a divine form. And, curiously, both of these groups study the Bible and can find support for their respective views to the much chagrin of the Trinitarians.

And I find the gospel to be just as confusing. You can take a saying of Jesus, for example, and conclude that salvation does not even depend on faith (or what you believe).

Matt. 7: 21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. 22 Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’

So, there will be surprises. People were believers (why else would they call Jesus…“Lord”?), and yet, they would be cast away (into Hell, presumably) by their Lord!

On the other hand…

Matt. 25: 34 “Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; 36 naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? 38 And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? 39 When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ 40 The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’

So, a salvation by a surprise. Do the good works, and you’ll be saved.

I’m aware of people’s interpretations. I realize that any contradiction can be squared away if you come up with an elaborate explanation. Ultimately, I don’t see a reason to think that Christianity is somehow different from another religion. They all have their interpretations and ‘difficult’ texts they would rather not have in their Bibles.