I love the bible more than before – 6


So, do you still hold that the biblical character – miracles and all – is an historical reality or that he is simply a narrative construct, a literary device if you prefer?”

I would like to commend a blogger you may not know.  Arkenaten is his blog-name, and A Tale Unfolds is his blog.  Ark asks the best questions.  Ark names himself an atheist.  Ark prefers yes or no answers to his questions.  I have to admit it prompts deeper thought than a lot of questioners.  Ark demands.  And keeps on demanding.  The question above is the third/fourth iteration.  So why my reluctance to say simply yes or no?

Simply because the answer tends not to answer my definition but that of the questioner.

Much like a courtroom.

So I put it to you, paulfg, that Jesus as you find in the bible is not in fact Jesus to be found anywhere by anyone (other than a brainwashed sycophant who must genefluct to this fictitious megalomaniac), is this not the case … ? And I will accept nothing less than an unambiguous and waffle free “yes” or “no”.” 

If you have read this short series of posts you will have already found the answer.  That, despite finding the bible not to be a factually accurate historical record, I am now free to walk even closer to God Soft Hands Jesus within.  That my name for God is Love.  That my childhood and country has borrowed the bible and the recorded God within as its own.  That rejecting all that goodness and love simply because of a “name” has little value for me.  That any name for something of spirit – invisible in the spectrum of physical sight – invisible to the rigorous demands of laboratory testing – any “name” will carry baggage not of my packing.

“Do you believe the bible has no value?  Do you believe the bible to be a poison infecting the minds of our children?  Are you not commanded by the very command of this fictitious megalomaniac to infect others with this vile lie?”

I sense the bible is more a “living word” in your life than mine, dear Ark.

I have no need to fear the bible.  Not now that I have no need to defend the factually accurate historical record it is not.  But know this as well.  Long before concluding the bible was not “fact” I had grown weary of the Christian search for sin (as recorded and recommended in the bible I was taught).  Only because, it seems to me, that if I spend my whole life looking for sin I will waste my whole life NOT looking for Love (God).  And if Love is the key as we are taught – why are we taught to look for Sin more than Love?

If Love is the key why do we need salvation?  And if we need salvation, why do those born out of sight, hearing or touch of the bible miss out?  And if the key reason for salvation is “because the bible says so” how can that be the evidence to convict when “because the bible says so” is no evidence at all.  Not unless you believe the bible to be a factually accurate historical record in the first place.  And in that case you look for sin because you are loved (which makes no sense to me ).  And because you miss out on heaven if you don’t.  Which isn’t very loving.  Except we are taught that we don’t make that call.  God does.  Which lets us off the hook.  Because the bible says so.  We are taught that we need that certainty.

So while Jesus as recorded in the bible is not – for me – a factually accurate historical record, miracles and all, the “narrative” has great value.  Because whilst the words stay the same – I don’t.  I change.

Am I yes or no?

I have changed from believing the bible as taught, to not believing the bible as taught, to believing the bible as taught, to not believing the bible as taught, to now believing in the bible as I find. And the bible has not changed one letter of one word in all that time (revisions and upgrades excepted).

Which in my book gives that book great power.  Greater power than any other book I have read.  And for each faith that is true (and, dear Ark, I begin to think in your book as well).

Which gladdens my heart.

Where all connected Love lives.

((hugs))

 

 

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46 thoughts on “I love the bible more than before – 6

  1. So while Jesus as recorded in the bible is not – for me – a factually accurate historical record, miracles and all, the “narrative” has great value. Because whilst the words stay the same – I don’t. I change.

    Excellent!
    Not exactly a yes or no reply, but I will take it as: ”I now regard the biblical Character, Jesus of Nazareth, and especially the resurrection, primarily as a work of fiction.”

    As the line in the movie goes: ” That’ll do, pig.”

      • I was never unhappy.

        Recognizing truth when one has for goodness knows how long believed fallacious doctrine was truth as it was inculcated can, in the long run, only have a positive outcome.

        I have never been more than a cultural Christian so the whole sin/redemption thing was always just so much nonsense, something to scare – and scar – the kiddies and credulous adults who should have their wits about them and know better, especially in this day and age.

        When I began writing a satirical fantasy novel a number of years ago and was looking for some background history, I discovered Moses was simply a work of fiction and I was actually flabbergasted. Not that I ever believed the miraculous crap, but I had no real need to question the historical veracity of the character himself.
        And this is the real problem and where the danger of passive, unquestioning acceptance leaves the barn door wide open for people at various stages in our history to claim certain rights based on such things as biblical conquest, when in fact there is absolutely no historical and certainly no ”divine” claim whatsoever.

        Even though in private most Jews recognize it is all nonsense, for the Israelis/Jews to publicly and officially denounce the Pentateuch would have serious political implications, not only for themselves but for Islam as well, as Muslims would now be forced to look to the veracity of their own ”Holy Book” would they not?
        (Of course they would flatly deny this, but Pandora’s Box would already be open)
        And truth be told, they have no more rights to land claims based on so-called Holy Text than the Israelis!

        And of course, any official public statement regarding Moses and the Pentateuch pretty much trashes the New Testament, as the god-man referred to Mosaic Law in the bible often enough, and the character Paul was not shy in these areas either.
        If there was truly any honesty regarding the approach to biblical stories then the Israelis and Arab would really have little to fight over.

        Yes, this is a very simplistic view, but remove of religious crap from such conflicts and people suddenly have to seriously look at their foundational motivation for continuing to kill each other.
        We become just people.
        Think of the immediate benefits of an official renouncing of Islam!

        And the same applies for pretty much all religion.

        For Christianity, although Constantine and his cohorts might have thought they were on to a good thing adopting this particular form of god-belief, it could never sustain any true unity as it constantly required the slaughter of heretics, and all throughout history through to the present day those that are indoctrinated with religious belief are constantly asserting that ”Their God” is the one. That their religion is the right one, the right path to eternal bliss and the only one to follow. Otherwise, at ”Judgment Day” you will meet a celestial,version of a Terminator much like Arnold Schwarzenegger in a white gown and a halo and be cast into the lake of fire, abandoned, and be separated from your god for ever.
        Even if you do Pass GO and collect your $200 you might still be forced to watch all your heathen relatives writhing in eternal torture down in Hell!

        Worst of all, you might be brought up in one of those religions that believe in reincarnation and come back as a Manchester United supporter.

        Religion really does taint everything it touches, whether we are talking Quetzalcoatl or Jesus of Nazareth Nowhere.

        There is nothing we need it for.

        • My question for you – no yes/no required – is why you insist that “religion” is the sum of the parts and the whole. Why is is that I can write hundreds of words and yet you pick out only the sentence that agrees with your position?

          I have touched on this before with you and you have ignored it. So I will repeat myself as you do. 🙂

          It is that insistence on your agenda and no other (from my experience) that makes me see so many similarities between your “position” and the religion you detest. What makes you different to the “beliefs” you detest?

          And this is not a set-up – it is genuine.

          If I can see the bible as a narrative and find goodness in it – why is it that you prefer not to. Much as I have learned from you in thinking through my starting point(s) – as each person I meet here or elsewhere – I am curious as to why you choose to be “stuck” in one position. The same “stuck” you accuse religion of.

          I am curious why you never see any good at all in this. Because, for me, that goes beyond logic and into “Ark based belief”. And that is “the same”.

          • Okay, that is a fair call. So let’s test this in an open forum.

            List five areas/things/sayings or attitudes ( you have complete free choice here) of goodness that are unique to the bible.(old and new T) that if it were not for Judeo/Christianity they would never have found their place in our global society.

            • Why an open forum? Although I am very happy for that – this is a conversation primarily, between you and I. And you have accused me of holding views and beliefs and of, therefore, behaving in a most vile manner because of those assumed beliefs. I am curious why “all of that” in your specific case.

              But more than that – why those conditions?

              Because every religion has a similarity of “the golden rule”. And every religion – to quote you back at you – is simply a reflection of culture and society and nothing to do with a divine authority. So why must “that” be excluded from finding love in “our global society” – because it is part of our global society (to quote you back at you)?

              🙂

            • Why an open forum?

              I mean your blog, Paul. .. as it is accessible to all.

              You are waffling once again.
              If you want to move this conversation forward then please stop doing this,as it frustrates and sidetracks the dialogue no end.
              Simply reply as asked. Is that really too difficult a request?

            • Yes it is. Because, as always, you revert to choosing to answer only the question you want to answer and ignore the rest.

            • No. You, are stating that there is good to be found in the bible.
              I am stating that any good is highly conditional, and what good there may be has to be isolated, which makes using it as an example meaningless.
              Thus I want you to list five examples where the goodness found in the bible is unique,stands apart from other works, and without such contribution these example of goodness would not have found their way into our global culture and thus we would likely be the worse off for their lack.

            • Which is imposing conditions on love. Just as religion does. And as you always do. Which is why I see similarities you do not. And – I think – why you prefer me not to “waffle”. It distracts – perhaps- from the the purity of your conditions. And that is what religion does as well. It demands with demands. Which is why you cause my curiosity to see what it sees. And that is why we – seemingly – can never converse. You need to me to stick to your agenda. Just as religion does.

            • You are stating the bible has merit.
              It is this approach that leads to the type of conflicts we see all over the world – an extreme interpretation of biblical text.
              Someone who blows the dhit out of a kids school an abortion clinic or drives on the pavement,mowing down pedestrians,or blows up a Coptic church in Egypt ALL use their own version or religious text to justify it. And it is the SAME text that sees ordinary people go to Mosques every day or Shul or eat farking cucumber sandwiches with the vicar after Church on the vicarage lawn. The texts are nothing but historical fiction; which is ALL based on erroneous, supernatural bullshit.

              So while we can love our neighours there are verses that instruct the faithful to slaughter infidels or stone kids or adulterers.
              So, the stumbling bloc is not with me, but with your refusal to let go of the Scriptural Gargage and simply admit it is bullshit. And bulklshit that taints and corrupts everything it touches.
              But I quite prepared to adjust this stance f you can demonstrate that there are simply 5 unique aspects of goodness found in the bible that

            • There is much goodness to be found in “fiction” … and comedy .. and the choice of how to frame a great picture.

              There is much to be found if you are prepared to look. For nothing is pure fact – for nothing can be received by eyes, ears, noses, tastebuds, and touch exempt from living and formed before that particular fact was experienced.

              Not even you!

              Which moves a little closer to Ark based belief than perhaps you realise.

            • You are once again, avoiding the crux of this entire conversation.
              No one regards a book such as Harry Potter as divinely inspired or in any way historically factual. And no one that I am aware of has blown the shit out of a bunch of people because they consider they were divinely instructed to do so from their interpretation of said text. No one!
              You’re apparent refusal to address this crucial issue of religion is beginning to move ever closer to you coming across as willfully ignorant at best and disingenuous at worst.
              Are you going to provide the five examples I asked for or not?

            • “And , er …. no am not going to sit through a bunch of irrelevant videos unless you promise to watch Life of Brian again.”

            • Aaah .. well 15 minutes is hardly a drain on your life, but if you are that pressed you can easily skip to the first Silverman excerpt, which should pretty much cover all we have been discussing over these threads. And he backs his position with evidence.And evidence from Christians as well, to boot.

            • Would you mind if I commented that conversing with you and your “religion” is like seeing you stuck in a revolving door? No matter how many times I see you go around you always come out in the same place.

              Having moved way beyond your “religion” I have curiosity not for the content which does not change, but for your process of spinning so enthusiastically to stay in the same place.

              “And evidence from Christians as well, to boot.”

              You are stuck Ark. And the world of belief is moving on without you. Trying to drag the world of your “religion”with it – out into the light for a grown-up conversation.

              But you – like so many “religious folk” – want to hold on to the status quo. The named goodies and baddies. Have you ever thought you might be one of the reasons “religion” doesn’t want to change either? You both have too much to lose.

            • No. And you Paul, I am afraid to say, have demonstrated a degree of hypocrisy in this regard that is all too prevalent among the religious ranks.
              Love has nothing to do with religion or the bible and your failure to acknowledge this is indicative of your inability to let go of god-belief and why you still try to justify the bible on any level you can.
              This is not love. Not at all.

            • You will continue to use analogy to justify your belief in the merits of a religious text that has caused and still causes untold misery to millions. That alone should plague you conscious.

              You are obviously looking for something in these texts you believe is lacking in the real world., which is probably why you still cling, no matter how tenuously, to your bible, and include your phrase God Soft Hands Jesus (sic) trying to ”spin” some credibility out of the text thus giving a margin of meaning to the years when you put a lot more stock in it.

              Once you recognise the emotional inadequacy in this pursuit you might be able to look at all ”Holy Text” with clear eyes, finally free from the indoctrination, no matter how nominal that all religion requires.

            • Which makes you the master to be obeyed in your right(eousness) and me the apprentice (to obey your “edicts”).

              You are more and more the essence of religion – fascinating! Do you not see it as well?

            • So why are you afraid to answer the questions I ask?
              They aren’t loaded. Yet you wriggle and squirm like an apologist.
              If you have nothing to fear and beleive you are onto to a good thing then simply share it.
              How much damage to your belief could answering the questions truly do?

            • Ark, you should know that not answering questions is not do with “fear” – you are practiced in the art of not answering questions.

              You have also stated more than once you have no interest in conversing. My blog charts my change in “beliefs” – in a open forum as you call it. If fear was a factor I would not dream of doing that (an observation I find curious is that your blog charts no changes whatsoever).

              “How much damage to your belief could answering the questions truly do?” Is the only question my “wriggle and squirm” invites of you.

              Perhaps that is why you refuse to see it. And perhaps that is also why you have no desire to converse. And that – again – smacks of the religion I have criticised and still do.

              Conversation is not a straight line. Why do you insist that is the only way we can share thoughts here?

            • You have not once stated what there is to ”see”, and I have stated on several occasion there is not a question related to this subject that I will not answer as honestly and openly as I am able.

              Let’s for once and for all, clear the away any perceived misgivings or misunderstandings or stubbornness you believe I have, shall we?
              So, please I adjure you,ask away …

            • Then please re-read the conversation slowly and pick out the questions / comments I have made as we responded to each other – because you have not addressed very many. My perception would love to be that we are indeed being open and honest without an agenda. Your answers (or avoidance of) tell me otherwise.

              I would ask you the same: I seek only kindness in these conversations. And if this is a “style” thing (on both sides) then remain open to suggestions. But I have one request:

              Allow the freedom of a conversation that expands both our minds rather than the claustrophobia of an interrogation to suit your agenda.

            • The entire conversation? You have got to be joking ….(So I did answer some.)
              I don’t think you have given me a single straight answer to date, have you?

              Give me the short version re the questions … and I promise I will answer them all.

            • Ark – either we are talking or you are talking and I am listening. And that ain’t on. If you reply so quickly and at such length but do not absorb the conversation, why does that also remind me of the “religion” you detest?

              I am not joking. But I am becoming as disillusioned as I became with religion – because this “conversation” is ticking so many of the same boxes.

            • Because your posts are light wading through tasteless blancmange.
              I pick up the salient points, usually found in the opening and closing paragraphs, and the rest one can generally skip scan, and if you are completely honest that much exposition is simply there to make yourself feel good but adds very little of substance to the to the post.

              It took you 6 posts or seven posts to admit that you consider Jesus of Nazareth a narrative construct, for goodness’ sake.
              Why are you now struggling to recognise the rest of the bible is simply a crock of rose fertilizer?

              I reiterate. Summarize your questions and I’ll answer them.

            • Do you ever have thoughts on a pee break? I did.

              I wondered if you need to win in order to maintain your beliefs. Ark-based-beliefs you have named as facts. If you cannot win – might that bring a pack of cards tumbling down? Just as you seek to tumble those who hold religion as valid … perhaps …?

  2. ” Long before concluding the bible was not “fact” I had grown weary of the Christian search for sin (as recorded and recommended in the bible I was taught). Only because, it seems to me, that if I spend my whole life looking for sin I will waste my whole life NOT looking for Love (God).”

    WOW. So I was poised to paste this into a nice little comment slot, and then…
    I read the conversation back and forth between you and Ark, and noticed a few word pearls I wanted to pick out of the fray.

    Ark: “I have never been more than a cultural Christian”: This admission of Ark’s to be Christian in some sense gives me pause, because I was raised Jewish, and for many years I claimed I was never more than a cultural Jew. In fact, many Jewish people in Israel are no more than cultural Jews. But there was always a fragile, invisible thread which connected me to God, which is why so many years later I was able to return to Him through Jesus.

    Ark: “in private most Jews recognize it is all nonsense.” Though not nonsense, I was taught in synagogue to divide most biblical numbers by ten to get to a “closer truth.” For example, instead of the Hebrew people wandering in the desert for 40 years, it might have been closer to four. I therefore learned at an early age to consider the Pentateuch a work of fiction.

    I did watch the video Ark provided and realize that words in particular by Asimov, Weisman and Carroll have much to do with highly visible fundamentalist Christians. (Silverman held no weight with me because he provides no proof to his “research.”) And I realized that much of what Ark and many atheists have to say have to do with the entire fundamentalist agenda.

    I pray Ark would be open to, and be able to discern the difference between those fundamentalists who have done such damage, and those of us who truly believe and walk out the transformational shift of love and grace Jesus spoke of.

    • Susan, what a thoughtful comment – thank you so much.

      “And I realized that much of what Ark and many atheists have to say have to do with the entire fundamentalist agenda.”

      I am not so sure. Ark uses – as you mention – the label “cultural Christian”. I relate to that.

      But what I found (and I don’t think I am unique) is that over time blame crept in. I bumped into others who had been hurt – really hurt – in a time of great vulnerability by the very church they turned to for healing. And that “shared history” became my history (and I think Ark’s). And I have taken ownership of the reality: I was not hurt or damaged in any way – just disillusioned. But as a “survivor” I then set about “defending” those who had been hurt and damaged. But I was not even a survivor. Just sympathetic to those who had been hurt.

      And because this is all faith based belief and personal observable evidence – a personal relationship beyond the taught sacred text – with public agreement and private dissent – it is powerfully emotive – and beyond reason.

      It has taken me a relatively short time to journey from “that” to where I pause right now with Ark. A matter of a few years.

      But the building of my discontent took five decades of cultural Christianity to be complete. And once complete, there was little incentive to then demolish and rebuild. In fact it was Ark who was instrumental in making me take a long hard look once I read that book you recommended.

      And it is that – above all else – I would like to change in the church.

      Cultural faith in cultural religion that solidifies into disillusionment through teaching by the church. It is not corrosive – it is complacent. And (perhaps) makes the bible as taught the biggest manmade barrier to a God of Love.

      Because now Ark demands that I am either a Christian or an atheist. And the church demands that I am either a Christian or an atheist. And God gets squeezed out of the equation completely. Not the God as taught, but God beyond what is taught.

      • “it is powerfully emotive – and beyond reason.”
        Yes, I grok that statement as well. And agree with the black-and-white, Christian or atheist choice we are demanded to make.
        Our relationship with God is grey, as are all relationship. They are give and take. Our Father and Jesus in particular help us to grow and mature into His likeness because they know when we are ready for new wisdom. And when we allow ourselves to be teachable, we receive that wisdom willingly through their Spirit, whether through a new take on a bible passage, lyric from a song or poem, or a word from a friend.
        And it’s that mystery “beyond reason” which keeps us in the ever-loving relationship.

      • Nope, sorry Paul. Never had a single run in with anything to do with the church, on any theological or physical level other than being politely asked to leave Chester Cathedral one rainy Friday afternoon as a teenager as I was eating an ice cream while admiring the architecture as I had just missed the bus home.

  3. @ Susan

    I pray Ark would be open to, and be able to discern the difference between those fundamentalists who have done such damage, and those of us who truly believe and walk out the transformational shift of love and grace Jesus spoke of.

    What you fail to realise Susan is this: While there may have been some itinerant, eschatological rabbi running around first century Galilee who was executed for sedition by the Romans ( although there is no evidence for this event) , the biblical character, Jesus of Nazareth is simply a work of narrative fiction. He did not exist.

    Once you accept this, the fog will lift and as the late Johnny Nash once sang;
    ”I can see clearly now….”

    Embrace reality. Don’t hang your heart on a make-believe Lake Tiberius pedestrian.

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