The Greatest
2011-07-24 at 19:25:22

The greatest injustice is that the Greatest Innocent suffered the greatest punishment so that the greatest wicked could be redeemed. This is the greatest love, not fair at all... thank God for that.


Jōl
2011-07-25 20:34:30
 

I'm sure he had a bad day and everything, but he got back to being immortal almost right away, right? I mean, back in May police discovered a little girl that God had already punished with Down's Syndrome who was locked in a cage and starved by her parents for so long that she was eating her own body to stay alive! How do you come back from that kind of suffering? At that age and with mental handicaps to boot? Not even Jesus was that innocent or suffered that greatly. And I bet there have been far worse stories over the course of history. People who suffered for YEARS with no friends or family who weren't torturing them and when they died they just stayed dead. Jesus had it easy -- being magic and all.

 
 
 
Jōl
2011-08-01 21:52:06
 

Not very convincing -- just saying Jesus was more innocent or suffered more is poor evidence. And if broken DNA is the result of sin (which is more magical thinking), then how was the little girl NOT punished with Down's Syndrome?

And as for 'many of those tragic stories have happy endings" argument... well, first of all, not the ones as I described them -- but you're practically making my argument for me! I argue that Jesus' suffering wasn't that great because he had a happy ending. Not only that, most of his days went scouring-free. And when you're eternal, that one day is statistically insignificant -- no: statistically absent. So if all those perfect days of being perfect don't count, then no number of tragedies that aren't so tragic can undo the fact that there are clearly horrors worse than Jesus'.

But I've also been thinking about Jesus' innocence. I gather you believe Jesus was eternal as the Word. Having been around since the beginning, he was at least witness to such events as God drowning every infant on the planet, inventing genital herpes, or causing the people of Judah to cannibalize their children -- events that would shake one's attitudes towards life and the definition of compassion. If he could come through that and still be called innocent then you obviously aren't talking about the English word 'innocence.' Still, I'm sure you'll wave those arguments away. At the very least he had anger management issues. The guy cast a spell on a fig tree -- a living organism, mind you -- just for being out of season! Even though he presumably was in on the whole orbit of Earth / cycle of life thing when it was thought up.

Yes, I have read "A Child Called It," and I'm pretty sure it's a lie. Not sure what that has to do with anything, though. I'll look into Desire of Ages -- and I'd like to make a recommendation for you: Asimov's Guide to the Bible. Good for some historical perspective. But you do have to have an open mind (if I understand the term -- I'm still shocked to see it coming from you), so write it down for later when you're older and wiser.

 
Jōl
2011-08-01 22:07:47
 

Okay, I just finished the first four chapters of "Desire of Ages" and I have a new book recommendation: John Milton's Paradise Lost. Because apparently that's the subject of Ms. White's book report. She seems to find our Mr. Milton more canonical than Mark or Luke as a matter of fact... Anyway, he says it better than she does.

 
 
 
Jōl
2011-08-02 19:30:25
 

Down's Syndrome: According to you, genetic maladies result from rejecting God's authority. Either that's a crap design, or heredity was endowed by God to carry a punishment. I was adhering to the generous reading.

Jesus born a man: So what you're saying is that nobody told Jesus that most people go their whole lives without being born of a virgin, becoming a first-rate Talmudic scholar by the age of twelve, turning water into wine, healing the sick, walking on water, forgiving sins, or predicting their own death and resurrection for weeks before the event? Really?

Crippled child: Do you even know what I do for a living?

Genital herpes: That's bold. Most theologians recognize the slippery slope before they start crediting anyone but God with the ability to create life.

Fig tree: We are told that Jesus cursed the tree and caused it to wither. This act (if you aren't concerned about the needless destruction of a living thing by the so-called Prince of Peace) is unreasonable and cruel. Of course the tree had no fruit if it was not the correct season -- this is nature operating as intended. Now, because of Jesus' self-absorbed tantrum, nobody will ever be able to get fruit from the tree.

As for it being an object lesson, it's a weak one. There is no moral underpinning to needlessly destroying a tree. It was a demonstration of power. Jesus was trying to persuade his disciples that they could perform magic, too, if they followed his teachings.

A Child Called It: Well, the guy's brother says he's making it up. Also, it has too clear a narrative structure to be simple biography. It's hard to put my finger on it, but I got the same feeling from Go Ask Alice (which has been thoroughly exposed as fiction by now). It's too -- erm -- neat?

 
 
 
Joey
2011-08-04 16:48:02
 

This ridiculing of Christ and God's plan does make me wonder.

Jol, you apparently believe in evil and that suffering is bad. So I am just wondering how you would deal with it if you were the FSM. Would you mind spoiling the ending for us?

 
Jōl
2011-08-05 00:13:00
 

The FSM? Don't know what that is. Having suffered a little bit in my lifetime, I do believe it's bad, and I try to do what I can. But a) there's no ending for me to spoil, and b) what I DON'T do is lie to myself.

And I don't ridicule God's plan -- I ridicule man's books.

So sin corrupts the DNA God made in his image and a magic tree is all that keeps him immortal? Did the DNA-breaking happen just once, or do people who sin more today have a higher rate of birth defects?

And aren't we told in the Bible that God created all life? Is that no longer true? If not, is it possible that other parts of the Bible are no longer true? For example, in Judges we are told that iron chariots proved too much for God in that day. Has he invented something that would allow him to outflank such a formidable army today? The stirrup, perhaps, or the pike?

Jesus's divine status: in the amalgam of beliefs that have arisen around the Gospels we are told that Jesus DID know his divine heritage and that he believed it. Even if he couldn't remember, for example, his dad getting his butt kicked by Jacob in a wrestling match, he knew all the stories and presumably understood that his suffering wasn't in vain. Therefore his suffering wasn't as great as one of the millions of people who were tortured to death before ever meeting a missionary and therefore not knowing about sin and redemption and smallpox.

 
heber
2011-08-05 11:53:05
 

perhaps his suffering wasnt as great but his punishment was the greatest, because he was leaved alone to die.... when he had no legitimate reason to die for. He was punished for something he din't do, because he loved us , I think you will agree that it wasn't fair...

 
Jōl
2011-08-06 02:54:23
 

Well, he could hardly be considered the first or last person to die alone. I'll agree his execution wasn't _just_, because I don't feel it's right to execute people for claiming to be royalty (and remember that the accusation we are told the Romans hung on the cross was 'king of the Jews'), but the Palestine's hegemonic overlord Rome did have laws against claiming to be king and we are told that Jesus agreed he was the last legitimate descendant of David -- Israel's king at the height of its golden period. We are also told that he was preaching to throngs of people outside of Jerusalem -- gathering this kind of following would certainly be seen as a threat to the local governor.

So was it fair? If it was the only thing God could think of to "forgive" millions of his botched creation without another act of genocidal mass murder then it's unbelievably fair. Of course, we are constantly told by creepy, so-called Christians all the time that we weren't _really_ forgiven and that God constantly sends hurricanes and droughts and floods and tornadoes and lightning etc. to punish us for gay marriage and other silly 'sins' so maybe it wasn't fair after all...

As for Ms. White's exegesis of the cursing of the fig tree: I have to disagree. Fig trees are used as a symbol for Israel elsewhere in Jesus' teachings (Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 13 & 21), but Jesus does not use this as a 'teachable moment' about the state of Israel when explaining his actions to his disciples as he does in those other instances, instead using it merely as a demonstration of the power of faith. More troubling, though, is the idea that Jesus is actively cursing Israel simply because it wasn't ready to 'bear fruit.' Remember that the fig tree is not represented as defective in any way until Jesus has a go at it -- it is simply not its time. Does Ellen G. White see Jesus as hopeful redeemer or needless destroyer?

Now I'm considering getting one of those "God hates figs" signs for the next funeral I attend. It is God hates figs, right?

 
 
 
Guest
2011-08-09 20:03:20
 

Oh, yeah. The Flying Spaghetti Monster. It's never interested me much and I've never bothered with that particular cliche. You guys need some new strawman arguments.

"DNA, without appropriate maintenance..." Priceless. Faced with a conundrum, you just pull stuff out of your heiney. That has less Biblical support than eternally tortured sinners, but one appeals to you and another doesn't.

"Doesn't really say that,"

Actually, that's precisely what it says:

"And the LORD was with Judah; and he drave out the inhabitants of the mountain; but could not drive out the inhabitants of the valley, because they had chariots of iron." -Judges 1:19

Yahweh is with Judah, and he can't slaughter the people of the valley. Why? BECAUSE they have chariots of iron. It's all right there. It doesn't say, 'The LORD was with Judah for part of the campaign, but remembered He had to turn His iron off when Judah got to the valley...' Remember that Judges tells us this war against the Canaanites was ordered by Yahweh. It seems strange that God would betray Judah and give no reason. Oh, wait, it does give a reason:

"...because they had chariots of iron."

Don't worry. None of this stuff was meant to be taken literally.

"Eventually He came to know and accept..." Yes. That's my point. It must have been a comfort that at least His suffering would redeem all who would receive the message.

And by eventually I can only assume you mean by twelve when he was a scriptural expert.

"Uh... that was the pre-incarnate Jesus wrestling with Jacob, not God the Father. Do some real Bible study sometime! :P And have you ever let somebody else win? :)"

You guys are really bad at monotheism, you know? God is God or He's not. And when I let people win I don't pull sneaky magic kung-fu moves to cripple my opponent by shortening their sinews (but I totally could if I wanted to) -- 'cause that's not really letting someone win. It's what somebody does when they're losing, though, and not man enough to take their licks...

"He was executed for two things:"

Nope. The Jewish leadership may have resented those things about Jesus, but it was the Romans who executed him. And the Romans couldn't care less about the Sabbath or the forgiveness of sin. They were pagans. Promise.

"And Jesus stood before the governor: and the governor asked him, saying, Art thou the King of the Jews? And Jesus said unto him, Thou sayest." -Matthew 27:11

"And they stripped him, and put on him a scarlet robe. And when they had platted a crown of thorns, they put it upon his head, and a reed in his right hand: and they bowed the knee before him, and mocked him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews!" -Matthew 27:28-29

"And set up over his head his accusation written, THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS." -Matthew 27:37

"And the superscription of his accusation was written over, THE KING OF THE JEWS." -Mark 15:26

"And from thenceforth Pilate sought to release him: but the Jews cried out, saying, If thou let this man go, thou art not Caesar's friend: whosoever maketh himself a king speaketh against Caesar." -John 19:12

Really, you have no leg to stand on here. The idea that the Romans would crucify someone for not observing the Sabbath could only lead to some kind of mass national suicide! It's just silly. And as long as you didn't challenge Caesar's right to rule, you could claim to be descended from the god who forgives sin, the god who makes rain, or any other god. As pagans, they didn't care! They would probably have been willing to pay him to forgive their sins. To them, Yahweh was just another god.

"Your misunderstanding... it boggles.

Let's say you kill someone and the penalty is death."

Please show me where God accuses all men of murder.

"Well, from what you already believe about the Bible," Yawn. Look: if you don't even know a good argument, just don't bother. You have no idea what I believe about scripture and speculating about the interpretations of someone with a passing familiarity with critical thought is out of your depth. Either tell me why a perfectly healthy fig tree doing exactly what God intended is a metaphor for an Israel that needs to be withered, or consider -- for just a second -- a scary, scary second -- that you might not have a perfect understanding of God's mind and that there still might be some mystery out there.

 
Jōl
2011-08-09 20:04:18
 

Oops: forgot to put my name in post #13. Sorry.

 
 
 
Joey
2011-08-29 18:08:21
 

You know, CK ... as I was reading the debate here, some perhaps off topic thoughts occurred to me, so I thought I would share them after this debate died down.

I always look back at the old sacrificial system, imagining what it must have been like to sacrifice a lamb that had done nothing to deserve that bloody death. How horrifying that would have been to see and experience. I would like to think that such a sight would have had me always wary of temptation ... that I would be a Jew who got the message. But I have too much evidence in my life that suggests otherwise. :-(

I mean, they were supposed to get the message that sin kills ... and they kept bringing their sacrifices. And they kept kept bringing them. It got so bad God says, "Enough with the sacrifices already! The whole point was to move you to be obedient, not give you license to sin!"

While the crucifixion might not be the worst way to die, it certainly was a humiliating way to die for someone who the Bible claims never sinned. It certainly was something that was disturbing to behold. I've read what crucifixion was like; it was sadistic. But sometimes not even the death of an innocent man will stop me from reconsidering sin. It's like we have the same problem if we let the death of Jesus become sort of rote knowledge in our faith experience, just as the killing of lambs became a rote experience for the Jew.

The death of an innocent lamb was also an illustration that any sin left unchecked would eventually bring dire consequences to everyone. A small selfish exercise in one area could bring devastation to the whole world. That's why sin must be eradicated and why sinners must be dealt with in such extreme ways. Yet God showed His love and His true purpose by having His son step in to take our penalty. If Jesus had died a normal death of old age, a death He still wouldn't have deserved, it wouldn't have had the same hit on our consciousness.

I also think that people are so used to death that they forget it isn't the natural state of being. Every one dies, we think, so how could death be a punishment for sin? Yet that's exactly what it is ... the world was created without death ... perfect ... and all the genetic errors and death and violence are just an expression of what life becomes sans the Creator's influence in the world.

(Hmmm. Don't you think this would be a good intro for the book you're supposed to be working on? I think I'll use it!!!!)

Finally, I think its important not to conflate the meanings of the word innocent here. Jol, for instance, saying "Jesus was not that innocent" as the abused girl in his example wouldn't apply if Jesus in fact never sinned. He would, in fact, be as innocent as that girl when applying that particular definition. But it would apply to Jesus if Jol merely meant the idea of childhood innocence, of being ignorant of evil, for instance. In the sense that Jesus was innocent of sin, he was certainly as innocent as the victim Jol refers to ... but He certainly wasn't as innocent in the sense that he had matured physically and emotionally. I think it's important to keep that in mind. Perhaps this even makes Jesus' life and death that much more compelling ... because He was no longer innocent in the maturity sense but was still completely innocent after he gained the knowledge of good and evil and was accountable to God for his actions but never sinned. Either way, it appears that Jol is either merely disputing the Bible's portrayal of Jesus, and therefore not really disputing what you wrote, or he's being philosophical in a way that's also irrelevant to your post.

 

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