Figuring Out Religion

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Maddy
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Re: Figuring Out Religion

Post by Maddy » Sun Feb 02, 2020 4:18 pm

For those interested in a scholarly, ultra-logical approach to many of the troubling issues raised early in this thread, I'd highly recommend any one of the numerous YouTube podcasts by Bart Ehrman. I've listened to at least 10 or 15 of his lectures (many of them multiple times), and I found him to be a refreshing change from the tired fundamentalist Christian apologetic that, frankly, never made a lick of sense to me. His credentials are impeccable, and his delivery is incredibly engaging. What's significantly different about Professor Ehrman, in my view, is his very respectful attitude toward the Christian faith--which is something in which he was deeply enmeshed for the majority of his life. Although he now identifies as an "agnostic," he neither carries a chip on his shoulder nor shows any desire to demean or tear down anyone else's beliefs. Interestingly, it was not his own research as a New Testament scholar that ultimately led him to reject fundamentalist Christianity; it was the problem of suffering.

What is Christianity? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=03Aiqz0xA1I
Misquoting Jesus in the Bible: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pfheSAcCsrE
The Historical Jesus: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2eqMFz7 ... GyzobLouI8
Is the New Testament Reliable? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b-cZncVmtIU
Jesus, the Law and a New Covenant: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IOPd80FN2ew
How the Bible Explains Suffering: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y7cmUCjnCgE
Bart Ehrman's personal beliefs interview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BeFdhyuVyzI
How Jesus Became God audiobook: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NJNNg-CT7Gw

I'd be interested in knowing whether anyone else on the forum is familiar with Professor Ehrman and has benefitted from his lectures as much as I have.
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Mountaineer
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Re: Figuring Out Religion

Post by Mountaineer » Mon Feb 10, 2020 8:05 am

Maddy wrote:
Sun Feb 02, 2020 4:18 pm
I'd be interested in knowing whether anyone else on the forum is familiar with Professor Ehrman and has benefitted from his lectures as much as I have.
1. Yes

2. Slightly. His lectures made me really study what I believe and why, and thus reinforced why I'm a Christian, so I'd say Eherman's lectures were good in that respect. As for being lectures about "truth", not so much benefit for me. 8 or 10 years ago I bought a DVD series from the Teaching Company by Bart Ehrman and Amy Jill Levine. Some dealt with "the missing gospels" and gnosticism; interesting but not Biblical or Jesus as God/man focused and highly influenced by man's insatiable desire to place primacy on his own reason vs. the gifts of Christ's revealed knowledge. Basically, it once again boils down to "Who is going to be God, God or self?" Personally, I would not want a god that I could completely understand by my own reason - that makes for far too small a god; would lead me to worship of the creature rather than the Creator.
"Blind reason gropes around in matters belonging to God (1 Corinthians 2:14). According to its own imagination, reason seeks consolation in its own works and cannot remember Christ and faith." Smalcald Articles III III 18
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Re: Figuring Out Religion

Post by Mountaineer » Mon Feb 10, 2020 8:12 am

Hey all, I thought you might like to see a Lutheran perspective on Trump’s Prayer Breakfast comments. A key point is the Lutheran understanding of “Justification” and the difference between "Law and Gospel”. All religions other than Christianity (Mormonism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism, paganism, etc.) are Law based, and even many Christian traditions have an inordinate focus on Law even though they say they don’t; a key ‘tell' is how much focus there is on moralism (e.g. WWJD - what would Jesus do?, be a good little girl/boy, don’t drink or smoke or go to movies or dance) or what we have to do to please God rather than a primary focus on the saving work of Jesus, that is what He did for us, not what we do for Him.

http://cyclopedia.lcms.org/display.asp? ... TIFICATION

http://cyclopedia.lcms.org/display.asp? ... WANDGOSPEL

… Mountaineer



Posted on Monday, February 10, 2020 - 5:42 am:

"Is Trump Becoming a Lutheran?"
by Jack Cascione

On Thursday, February 6, 2020, unique circumstances surrounding the U. S. President’s impeachment led to an outburst of verbiage reminiscent of a Lutheran Reformation morality play.

At the National Prayer Breakfast, President Trump stated, “I don't like people who use their faith as justification for doing what they know is wrong.” If there ever was an opening for Luther’s diatribe against fanaticism, this was it.

Images of the Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition, the Salem Witch Trials, the 1857 Mormon Mountain Meadows Massacre of a civilian wagon train from Arkansas, countless Moslem wars of extermination, and many more come to mind.

In one statement President Trump acknowledged the existence of faith, conscience, and people acting against their conscience in the name of religion.

American generic Christianity and, sad to say, a majority of Lutherans are not aware that people are justified by God through or by faith alone in Christ and not because of faith. Faith in itself does not cause justification. Rather, faith receives God’s declaration righteousness which is earned by Christ alone. If we were justified because of our faith, we would be the cause of our own justification.

Romney’s and Pelosi’s appeals to their own faith as a higher calling than the rule of law and an excuse for removing President Trump from office was the autocratic hypocrisy that led to President Trump’s outburst.

President Trump later complained that some people, “use religion as a crutch.” What he meant was that some people use faith as an excuse to attack others instead of relying on faith that receives God’s grace. Romney and Pelosi turned freedom of religion into freedom to hate in the court of their own faith.

Generic American Christianity confuses Law with Gospel and claims that the Law is religion, when the Bible clearly states, “The law is not of faith” (Gal. 3:12).

This writer once wasted an hour attempting to explain to a U. S. Congressman that displaying the 10 Commandments was not a statement of religion but of Natural Law. Reformed Christians have convinced America that the Law is religion, when the fact is that believing in the 10 Commandments will not save anyone. We do not worship the Law. “The law is not of faith” (Gal. 3:12).

Acknowledgement that there is a God is not an act of faith. “In God we Trust,” is a confession of the Law not the Gospel, unless one believes in the deity of Christ. Even then, prayer is a work of sanctification, not justification. God justifies us, we do not justify Him or ourselves.

The basis for Lutheran Baptism and Confirmation is the confession of the Apostles’ Creed, not the 10 Commandments.

It was the dynamics of the moment that compelled President Trump’s moment of clarity and Lutheran perspective.

President Trump even rejected Harvard professor Arthur Brooks’ claim at the Prayer Breakfast, that we should love our enemies. In the context of impeachment Trump was absolutely correct and Brooks was wrong. Trump is the chief executive, whose primary duty is to execute the Law, not faith, love, or forgiveness. This is Luther’s proper distinction between church and state. Any head of State has the right to execute enemies of the State according to the Law, as Trump recently accomplished in Iraq. At the same time, a Christian head of State may also pray for the repentance of the State’s enemies even as he executes them.

Christ never told the Romans to take the two thieves off the cross. They received just what they deserved, and one of them correctly admitted it.

To cap off the day, President Trump later announced: “I’ve done things wrong in my life, I will admit. Not purposely, but I’ve done things wrong.” He remained adamant that regarding his official duties there was nothing wrong with the phone call.

President Trump then proclaimed, “But now we have that gorgeous word. I never thought that word would ever sound so good. It’s called total acquittal.”

Total acquittal is the hallmark of the Lutheran Reformation. It is also called Justification, declared righteous, or vindication.

Who can discern his errors? Acquit me of hidden faults. (Psa. 19:12 NASB)

Also keep back Thy servant from presumptuous sins; Let them not rule over me; Then I shall be blameless, And I shall be acquitted of great transgression. (Psa. 19:13 NASB)

There was a time when the High Priest Caiaphas spoke correctly about Jesus Christ by accident.
"...nor do you take into account that it is expedient for you that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation should not perish. Now this he did not say on his own initiative; but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus was going to die for the nation ..." (John 11:50-51 NASB)

We have now seen a time when President Donald John Trump spoke correctly about acquittal and prophecies to the world.

At the Last Judgment the greatest words a person can hear through all eternity from the mouth of God are: “You are acquitted through faith by the righteous work of Christ.”

The unseen Hand moves the pieces on the board of life to fulfill His Divine providence.

There is good reason for all Christians to pray for God’s blessings on their leaders.
"Blind reason gropes around in matters belonging to God (1 Corinthians 2:14). According to its own imagination, reason seeks consolation in its own works and cannot remember Christ and faith." Smalcald Articles III III 18
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Cortopassi
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Re: Figuring Out Religion

Post by Cortopassi » Mon Feb 10, 2020 8:22 am

As with everything, there are many ways to interpret Trump

https://frenchpress.thedispatch.com/p/w ... my-enemies
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Re: Figuring Out Religion

Post by Mountaineer » Mon Feb 10, 2020 9:36 am

Cortopassi wrote:
Mon Feb 10, 2020 8:22 am
As with everything, there are many ways to interpret Trump

https://frenchpress.thedispatch.com/p/w ... my-enemies
Indeed. And many ways to interpret the doctrine of the two kingdoms/realms. And many ways to interpret the commands "Love God and love neighbor as yourself" - one way to interpret is to recognize they are just two more commandments (i.e. Law) that are impossible for anyone other than Jesus to fully do, that is two more laws that are impossible to achieve so as to drive one to repentance and thus be ready to hear the Gospel, the good news that Jesus has done it all for me ... and you. Then we respond in thanks in our various vocations by doing our best to love and serve our neighbors with their needs instead of only focusing on our (selfish?) needs; after we are justified by what Christ did for us, the Holy Spirit works within us to sanctify us, a state we (individually and collectively) will never completely achieve until the new heaven and new earth arrive on the last day. In other words, God does not need our help, but our neighbor does.

Edit. I just read this paper, a much more thorough discussion of my comments for those who might have interest:

https://www.1517.org/articles/preaching ... 73add2135a
"Blind reason gropes around in matters belonging to God (1 Corinthians 2:14). According to its own imagination, reason seeks consolation in its own works and cannot remember Christ and faith." Smalcald Articles III III 18
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Xan
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Re: Figuring Out Religion

Post by Xan » Tue Feb 11, 2020 9:34 am

For I tell you that unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, there is no way you will enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.
Pastor Wolfmueller notes that while all religion and almost all philosophy will rightly attack the worst in our humanity, Christianity is unique in attacking the best also. If the Pharisees aren't righteous enough to satisfy God then who can be??

Two versions:
Sermon
Sunday drive home video

Spoiler: the righteousness that exceeds the Pharisees must come from outside of us.
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