Why I have decided to leave the Bible behind... for now


(Reggie O'Donoghue) #1

I have come to the conclusion that the extremely harsh dominion mandate in Genesis 1 cannot be explained away. Not only does it ‘allow’ for subjugation of earth’s natural resources, and animals, it outright commands it.

I’m not an atheist either, I will try to find a different religion. Maybe I will come back. Feel free to give me arguments as to why I should remain.


(George Brooks) #2

Shucks, @Reggie_O_Donoghue… you could just conclude that Genesis and a few other books were written by a scribe who had a really stern Father in Law … and he wrote what he was TOLD to write…


(Reggie O'Donoghue) #3

What do you mean?


(George Brooks) #4

@Reggie_O_Donoghue

Well, you could ignore Genesis because it is too mean.

Or you could ignore Genesis because it is incorrect.


(Reggie O'Donoghue) #5

My interest in the bible was primarily as a moral guide, not as literal truth.


(George Brooks) #6

@Reggie_O_Donoghue

And so some of the moral guidance is really OFF. If it isn’t literal truth, it sounds like you have arrived at the point most of my fellow members of the Unitarian Universalist church have already arrived at!


(Luca) #7

Do you believe in God?
Edit: Nevermind, i found you stating that you are agnostic.


(Kent Davis) #8

Wouldn’t you be better served to acknowledge you have difficulty reconciling particular parts of the Bible but recognize it does provide the moral clarity you can continue to use for guidance.


(Mervin Bitikofer) #9

We’ve been down this road before, Reggie. And you seem to vacillate frequently – some might say you seem to be “blowing in the winds” – high class or scholarly winds as they may be; they nevertheless don’t seem to be any more than that for you in terms of commitment.

You want to find an unimpeachable ethic in the Bible and you should be commended for your search. But on the other hand, one is tempted to wonder: what do you need the Bible for? You already have a sort of “higher standard” it would seem by which you are evaluating the Bible and finding some parts okay and other parts wanting. So apparently you already have a “higher ethical system” in place in order to render such judgments. But I’ll continue to take you at your word – you’re searching, and like any of us, you want to kick the tires before you buy the car. Fair enough. Let me just add this, though.

There are different senses of deriving ethics and guidelines from the bible. Among them would be these two: 1) decode it (often exclusively from the directly God-breathed KJV) to come up with the ultimate "do"s and "don’t"s list which can’t be questioned, even if some of them were addressed to a specific ancient audience and their circumstances. 2) absorb it (both old and new testaments) for the whole of it, and the arc of its message, trying to discern (usually messily, and with very little details and specifics) just what is good and to whom it points.

We all seem to like #1 because it’s easy. Never mind that we often get it wrong. At least we’re certain about it, right? But you might try leaning a bit more toward #2 (not saying you’re a KJV person – I just added that as a generalization).

The shopper will always be given plenty of reasons to second guess themselves, both before and after a purchase. But it is good to eventually reach a point where one makes the purchase, and after that, works toward the continued success of that purchase.

To paraphrase Chesterton: The object of opening the mind, as of opening the mouth, is to shut it again on something solid and nutritious.

And I would add, that just because we follow the above advice, does not mean that no chewing is required.

And one final (but indispensable) addition. The Bible does, in the Christian view, point us not so much to something (like an ideal ethic), but rather someone. Aim for the latter, and the former (while not being entirely resolved in all details of course) will begin to take care of itself.


#10

Subject to change without notice.


(Reggie O'Donoghue) #11

I recognise there is a recognition that nature is a temple to God, and that animals can show God’s glory (Job 39-41), but how do we reconcile this with Genesis 1:28?


(Mervin Bitikofer) #12

Why not just let both messages stand on their own terms? The first being a mandate for us to be stewards of the earth and its creatures; and the second an acknowledgment that the earth and its creatures will never be completely mastered despite the best efforts of humanity. (how much less the entire cosmos?)


(Reggie O'Donoghue) #13

It isn’t just an acknowledgement however, it is a ‘command’ to violently subdue and rule.


(Mervin Bitikofer) #14

I haven’t spent time in the Greek or Hebrew lexicons like you apparently have, but I will say this: if you are insisting on reading the word “violence” into the word “subdue” or the phrase “have dominion over”, then (even if you were right that this connotation is there) it would contradict the greater scriptural arc depicting who God is. Violence is never commended in scripture (even in the old testament!) as some Godly attribute for people to emulate. Sure you can lift out numerous verses or words where violent commands are explicitly attributed to God, but then you still run into problems with the numerous places even in the old testament where complaints against the violence of men are also explicitly attributed to God. And that is without new testament input which drives a stake right through the heart of your notion that violence could have any common cause whatsoever with faithful Christian life.

And you know that when the whole “God = nasty violent tyrant” folks can’t even make the case from the old testament, which is where their case is supposed to be strongest, it will be a losing proposition to anyone who knows their whole bible. So I will set the general message of scriptures over and against any single connotation of violence we see in the word “subdue”. “Stewardship” will be the more accurate lesson to draw from it. Even if lexicographers are right that it is generally a violent word (and I have no reason or expertise to dispute that), I will still strive to let scriptures rule what kind of lesson I draw from isolated words or passages. Once we have let translators do their good and necessary work, there is still much heavy lifting yet to be done by scholars, theologians, pastors, and indeed all of us.


(Reggie O'Donoghue) #15

How do we know that God doesn’t see animal life as an exception to this?


(Mervin Bitikofer) #16

I’m not sure we do. Or rather – it is difficult for me to see how our concept of violence would apply to animals, since the word has moral connotations for us, I think. I mean, yes, I can use the term in a morally neutral way: “I violently wrenched my shoulder today”. But in our context here, violence is between people, and ostensibly involves one or more parties making moral choices as they participate in it.

Animals do things with and to each other that we would call “violent”, to be sure, if humans were doing the same things. But animal-to-animal behavior has departed from any moral turf that we have access to, I think, and would have to be considered “amoral” by us, though it is interesting that we will identify what sure looks to us like self-perceived culpability or shame (dog with a tail between its legs) in our pets. So I shouldn’t be dogmatic in thinking morals can’t apply to animals; I just don’t think the scriptures give us anything to work with in that regard.

Human-to-animal violence (all the sacrifices) is a much more interesting subject, and while the old testament sure has the people of God doing plenty of that, it also commends people who care for their animals. Cruelty (in a wider context beyond sacrifices) seems to generally frowned upon (e.g. not muzzling your working ox, or shepherd generally presumed to be lovingly caring for their sheep, etc.).

You have good questions there. But I don’t think God seems to mind (or think of as “violent”) all the predator/prey/parasitic activities that happen in nature apart from any human involvement.


(George Brooks) #17

@beaglelady

@Reggie_O_Donoghue,

I don’t want to be a party pooper… but I wanted to remind you that time is passing … click on this YouTube reminder:

Isn’t there anything you really haven’t had the time to consider?

I can’t think of anything myself… but I did not want to give you a moment…


(Theophilus Book) #18

[quote=“Reggie_O_Donoghue, post:1, topic:38755, full:true”]
I have come to the conclusion that the extremely harsh dominion mandate in Genesis 1 cannot be explained away. Not only does it ‘allow’ for subjugation of earth’s natural resources, and animals, it outright commands it.[/quote]

Because Man is the ONLY creature to be given Free Will, He stands above all others in the “creature” category. And is therefore given not only authority over other creatures, but with authority comes equally “Responsibility” to ensure animal rights, and survival of species. It was a protection just as much as it was a subjection.

Even the most ardent student of scripture does not read through one reading and respond with “Voila - I comprehend all there is to know about God and God-things.” No, we begin with reading until we find Something we can understand, then focus on that, and when we feel justified to proceed, we search again till we find another “Fact” with which we can draw comfort of understanding.

At some point in time, we will come to understand God is above Man, and Man can find a great deal of comfort by learning of Him as His child instead of as His equal.


(Reggie O'Donoghue) #19

Coming to think of it. I will concede that perhaps God’s commands do not have to exist for all time. God gives Noah and his sons permission to eat ‘all’ animals, then proceeds to tell the Israelites to avoid animals which do not have cloven feet or chew the cud. So maybe this language was merely about asserting human dominance over the earth and over wild animals, by force if need be, whilst not necessarily endorsing environmental destruction.


(Theophilus Book) #20

[quote=“Reggie_O_Donoghue, post:19, topic:38755, full:true”]
Coming to think of it. I will concede that perhaps God’s commands do not have to exist for all time. God gives Noah and his sons permission to eat ‘all’ animals, then proceeds to tell the Israelites to avoid animals which do not have cloven feet or chew the cud. So maybe this language was merely about asserting human dominance over the earth and over wild animals, by force if need be, whilst not necessarily endorsing environmental destruction. [/quote]

You are getting the concept. Remember, Man developed Veterinarians who are specially trained for helping Animals which are in difficulty. No other animal is capable of doing that.

And Humans can build new forms of old animals, through “selective breeding,” which no animal ever planned, and carried out, yet the species continue to improve through the grace of God and Man’s help.

[quote=“Reggie_O_Donoghue, post:19, topic:38755, full:true”]
God gives Noah and his sons permission to eat ‘all’ animals, then proceeds to tell the Israelites to avoid animals which do not have cloven feet or chew the cud.[/quote]

That was because God chose one Man’s Family to bring into covenant with God, with a view toward producing Messiah, who would one day sacrifice Himself for the species “Man.” That one Man was “Abraham,” who became the progenitor of several families, so that in His seed, all Humankind would be blessed.

And understanding the Old Testament is the story of One Man’s Family, helps us to focus on the wider picture, than the other perspective which has us struggling to follow any one of several trails for understanding.

And God dealt with a HUGE issue of which trail of descendants to follow, from Abraham to Messiah. And He developed a plan whereby Messiah could dwell in believers, to aid and comfort them; and gave it a name - “The Logos Of God.”

And when Men begin to comprehend this blueprint, and adapt it for their life-guide, others will see the change in the life of that man, and understand the power of God’s love for Mankind.

And this is basically what that plan consists: When any Christian will conform to the pattern of life taught by Jesus, of self-sacrifice and service to others, Jesus’ Spirit will dwell in that person, and make Him/Her stronger in The Faith.

Most beginning bible studies, in churches accross this nation, will turn to the bible, New Testament section, Life of Christ "synoptic Gospels, and John’s gospel as the logical starting place to understand what it is God wants us to know and do.

Then, upon completing the “beginner’s” Bible study, almost invariably, indoctrination begins with the concept of “In the beginning was the logos, and the logos was with God, and the logos was God” [John 1:1]; “And the logos was made flesh and dwelt among us.” [John 1:14] As though John 1:14 follows immediately John 1:1-3.

It does NOT. There are eleven verses between vers 3 and verse 14, which cover the entire history of the Christian experience of the first century, from the advent of Jesus, to the writing of John’s gospel in 96 a.d.

The doctrine developed from the study system which starts with “In the beginning” of John’s gospel, not only misses the entire truth of scripture, it misleads generations of Christians into believing Jesus is the eternal logos of God who became flesh and came down to live among men.

God appointed one person to “fulfill (fully preach) the Logos of God.”

That one person was given a mission specifically designating him to “FULFILL (FULLY PREACH) THE LOGOS OF GOD.”

And he preached to the whole world that when they reached that level of perfection that it is no longer “I” that live but “Christ liveth in me,” (That was the focus and scope of the logos of God) - THAT is when the Logos was personified among men.

THAT mission was given to the Apostle Paul.

The sixtieth anniversary issue of Life Magazine, page 42, states: “Colonel Charles Lindbergh, who flew solo from the North American continent to Europe, is the American Dream made flesh.”

Now, I think it safe to say, we still recognize there is an “American Dream.” And that the American Dream can still be personalized and personified and lived among men to this day. The whole point here is to demonstrate how the development of the personification of the Logos was understood by the first generation Christians.

In 48 A.D. Paul preached “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” [Gal 2:20]

See the personification of the logos, in Christians, as Christ lives in THEM? THAT was God’s plan in the beginning of the new covenant. And THAT is what Paul preached to THE WHOLE WORLD.

Twelve years later, in 60 A.D. Paul says he was given a commision to “FULFILL (FULLY PREACH) THE LOGOS OF GOD,” and, that he preached it to the whole world. “If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which WAS PREACHED TO EVERY CREATURE WHICH IS UNDER HEAVEN; whereof I Paul am made a minister; 24 Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church:” [Col 1:23-24]

PAUL SAYS HE WAS MADE A MINISTER TO FULFILL (FULLY PREACH) THE LOGOS OF GOD:
"Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to FULFILL (fully preach) THE LOGOS (word) OF GOD;[Col 1:25]

Paul goes on to explain that the logos of God was hidden in a mystery, from ages and generations: 26 Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints: 27 To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles;" [Col 1:26-27]

And Paul tells us that this mystery, this “LOGOS OF GOD” is “CHRIST IN YOU,” [Gal 2:20] and that this (“christ in you”) is the hope of glory. “which is Christ in you, the hope of glory: 28 Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus:” [Col 1:23-28]

Not until 69 A.D. was the “logos of God” tied to Jesus, and that was by name. “The Logos of God” is NOT who Jesus was. It is a NAME Jesus was GIVEN. And the record of this transaction was not made public until 69 A.D. So the New Testament generation of Christians had no such understanding that “Jesus is the logos of God.”

AT LEAST 36 years (two generations) passed prior to John’s writing of the apokolypse, in which he tells us of a name given to Jesus which NO MAN KNEW but he HIMSELF - “And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. 12 His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. 13 And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The LOGOS (Word) of God.” [Rev 19:11-13]

“Christ living in me” IS THE LOGOS OF GOD; “Christ living in me” is how the logos became flesh, and THIS is how the first generation Christians had it presented to their understanding.

When John penned his gospel in 96 a.d., he spoke of that logos of God, and of its being personified in Christians, “became flesh and dwelled among men,” and between the two sections, informed us of all that took place over the 60 to 70 years interim between the two concepts.

After introducing a cousin of Jesus as the prophet of God, John tells us of the Israel’s reaction, and the Gentile world’s reaction, to this “Jesus of Nazareth” spoken of by John the baptist.

John 1:11 “He came unto his own, and his own received him not.”

This did not happen overnight. This is an encapsulated account of all that is written in the New Testament accounts concerning Israel’s rejection of Jesus. It is told in eleven simple words. “He came unto his own, and his own received him not.” This speaks of the rejection and the hunting of Jesus by the Sanhedrin council, the attack by the Pharisees, and the denial by the high priest of the Jews, and their decision that it was better that one man should die for the nation." ALL of this is covered in eleven simple words.

Then John covers in forty seven words, the entire history of the struggle of the first century, to expand a little band of 120 believers into the new and exciting movement known to the world as “Christianity.”

John 1:12 “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: 13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”

ONLY THEN does John tell us that the logos has been personified in Christians who let Christ into their lives so that the logos is personified among men, as Paul preached in Galations and Colossions. And the “beginning” of which John speaks, is not the beginning of creation as is commonly and popularly believed, it is the beginning of the gospel of John.

Read all of John’s writings and you will see that he references the beginnig of the gospel, not the beginning of the world. Even Jesus spoke of it - John 15:27 “And ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning;” and John 16:4 But these things have I told you, that when the time shall come, ye may remember that I told you of them. And these things I said not unto you at the beginning, because I was with you.