The Meaning of Easter: Miracles Still Happen

Jesus' resurrection was a true miracle that changed the world then, and continues to transform lives now.

carol814

04/18/2011 12:11:00 PM

Everyday there is a miracle called BIRTH.

angelcat13

04/18/2011 10:45:27 AM

JESUS CHRIST is RISEN and the devil defeated!!!!! Amen!

Lchunkylady

04/12/2009 11:59:40 AM

CHRIST HAS RISEN !! ALLEULIA !! ALLEULIA !!

kmickelson

04/10/2009 03:32:07 PM

"The fool has said in his heart there is no God". 'nough said.

resist1

04/05/2005 10:47:41 AM

The are many "god's" dominating the American cultural psyche, and the worst is that thundering, moralistic, angry bully who hates anything that feels good and abominates anyone or thing that will not conform. Although that is the god that some Christians preach, that is NOT Christ, or even Christ's God in heaven. Disbelieve in that god, no matter how certain Bible thumpers twist Scripture to their own ends. Disbelieve in that god and believe instead in Love, and then all things become much more clear.

resist1

04/05/2005 10:44:43 AM

nnmns: I do too. But,you'd be surprised how many folks out there believe what I believe. They can be found in every church,in every congregation and often not even affiliated with any official church. Most of these folks don't capture headlines, or file lawsuits or in any way draw attention to what they believe. However, they go about everyday living for Love, healing, working for peace and justice and showing mercy and forgiveness. They spread hope and comfort and truth one-on-one. And even those Christians who do not seem to believe in the same concept of Love, if they are truly surrendered to Christ and are not merely hypocrites abusing Christ's name, even those Christians may surprise you in the future. God, through Christ, has transformed many from attitudes of hate and control to the spirit of goodness and mercy.

godisaheretic

04/01/2005 11:08:55 PM

reason87, if you replace "an alien space ship" with "God" and replace "an energy beam" with "lightning", then that's about right... so the Meaning of Easter? God created the evolving universe, and eventually religion evolved to where Jesus gave us a fuller picture of God... it's a dwarf God if creation is only about 6 or 7 thousand years old... a 14 billion year old universe? sounds like a mighty God to me... peace. David

reason87

04/01/2005 12:41:11 PM

Really - we all have come from a primordial ooze billions and billions of years ago - then, an alien space ship struck this ooze with an energy beam - then the ooze began to move - and billions and billions of years later I stand hear before you - an ancestor of this ooze - I am an animal that lives on instinct

nnmns

03/31/2005 02:35:18 PM

resist1, I wish sincerely your version of Christianity, or watsy's, were dominant. I don't believe in it but I think it would probably be a good thing for the world. Unfortunately yours is not the dominant version. Just know when I say bad things about Christianity I don't mean you or folks like you. Best wishes.

resist1

03/31/2005 01:19:42 PM

And he still praised God, because God is love, and Boenhoffer could not stop loving. Once it gets you, you stay got. That's who and what we worship -- Conscious Love who is reaching to us every minute of our existence -- and all we have to do is welcome it in. It has nothing to do with harps or abject kneeling to an Almighty Tyrant. I guess you have to experience it, to understand. And don't think you are going to hell if you can't get your head around it. Love loves you and we are all moving toward the source of that love

resist1

03/31/2005 01:18:57 PM

For those of you who just don't "get" the Christian idea, here's a suggestion. Read about the life and writings of a guy named Deidrick Boenhoffer. Then compare him to Jerry Falwell, or Kenneth Copeland or George Bush. Ask yourself which of them seems to be teaching the Christ of the Gospels and which of them seem to be living the lives of Pharisees. It gets pretty clear then. Boenhoffer was willing, for the faith that was in him, to attempt the murder of Adolph Hitler and GO TO HELL FOR THE SIN OF MURDER, in order to put a halt to the suffering of millions. He believed God hated murder, and knew that killing even Hitler was a sin, because vengeance belongs to God. However, his love for Christ and his compassion for the incredible sufferings of the world caused by the Nazis, made him want to sacrifice even his own salvation if that meant the terror would end for others. His plot was found out, however, and he died in a concentration camp, just like the millions he was trying to release.

resist1

03/31/2005 12:42:19 PM

nnmns: I know -- harp music, please!! Let me go to hell. Seriously, The question of what about the pre-Christian souls burning in hell is an important one. I for one believe that Christ died for all, everyone ever born. I believe that at some point each soul is given the chance to choose between love or hate, giving or selfishness -- in other words God or evil. I do not hold to the fundamentalist belief that each person must "accept Christ as personal Savior" and then run around witnessing or burn in hell as a backslider. The Catholic Church at least gives us Purgatory for repentence or limbo a painless version of hell. The Mormons give other levels and states of the afterlife that are not damnation but not yet "heaven". Denominations differ on this point.

dangerouschristian

03/31/2005 11:34:34 AM

I know I may get burned at the stake for heresy, but what I am seeing is people trying to "prove" that Jesus rose from the dead. We HOPE that Jesus rose from the dead. We have no proof. The people that reason87 cite lived years after the fact and were even to be known to have distorted the facts. Plus, the paragraph that Josephus in his "Testimonium Flavium" wrote about Jesus has been proved to be a later forgery since Josephus was a straight-up Jew who'd consider it blasphemy to praise Jesus. And if he did write about Jesus, why only a mere paragraph when Josephus wrote page after page about the common person? Also, there were writers who lived during the time of Christ and lived in Judea, yet none of them mentioned nary a word about Jesus. Back to my argument, we're too busy trying to prove all this happened instead of trying to take the words of Jesus and live them each and every day. I think that would be more important than trying to prove the resurrection. Peace.

chirho33

03/31/2005 04:10:40 AM

What nonsense! Jesus was not an historical personage and the "resurrection" was not an historical event. There is not factual evidence, no historical evidence that Jesus ever lived. All these things are simply matters of faith.

sagenav

03/30/2005 06:10:52 PM

resist1: The problem I have with that version of Christianity is that God is constantly toying with humanity while requiring our obedience and faith. And then when/if we finally get into heaven we spend eternity kneeling and worshiping at His feet; what an ego this God has. Is that really what people look forward to? Not me.

nnmns

03/30/2005 04:13:08 PM

resist1, Nice try but what about all those people supposedly toasting because Jesus hadn't been born when they died, and all those people toasting because they never got the message and all those people toasting because they heard the message from really inadequate instructors? And why toasting? Why not spending eternity in libraries with small collections or in bars with only Coors beer? It's still punishment way beyond the "crime". And what about all those people who'd gladly have been obedient but didn't get the chance? And what about all that damn harp music?

resist1

03/30/2005 03:47:30 PM

If one believes that God "set us up", how much more welcome is the idea that then God took the punishment as Christ on the cross to "balance the books" so to speak. Ok,God put us in a situation that could get out of hand, it did and so at a certain point in history, God entered the world and took the rap for our selfishness, so we could 1)have a perfect example of unselfish love and 2) be satisfied that justice has been served. Ok already, the balance of good and evil has been dealt with because God took the ass whoopin' in our place because we could not. Sounds fair to me.

resist1

03/30/2005 03:39:40 PM

Christ saved His condemnation for the hypocritical Pharisee who were arrogantly convinced of their own righteousness, and whose goal was to unhold every jot and tiddle of Judaic Law no matter how impossible to achieve, nor how terribly oppressive that Law was to so many. Sounds very much like some churches today.

resist1

03/30/2005 03:19:41 PM

They literally had everything, but they wanted more. They listened to the argument that they could be gods themselves -- that is the original sin. And how have we changed over the many generations? We still are arrogant, self-centered, power-hungry, vengeful, greedy. Of course we are also generous, beautiful, loving, patient, kind, giving, joyful. Humans are worth the attention of God. God still wants a relationship, but each person has to respond freely, without being coerced or forced. That is why God gave us free will, which led to our being selfish-- so that God could experience the love of creatures who respond with genuine love to God's love. God did not want robots.

resist1

03/30/2005 03:13:49 PM

nnmns All seriously good questions, which every Christian needs to consider and deal with before they can ever teach anyone about anything. The Christian rational goes like this: humans were created by God as companions to God and to each other in a perfect existance that knew no suffering nor death. Only one thing was required -- obedience. The Creation myth metaphor is one of eating a forbidden fruit. The sin is not in the eating, but in the act of disobedience and lack of faith in a God who had given them EVERTHING ELSE in the whole universe as theirs. Most importantly, they had the ability to freely choose this action. They listened to the "devil" in the form of a "snake" -- another metaphor for the selfishness, self-seeking and ingratitude that, combined with free will, led to their problems.

nnmns

03/30/2005 02:41:46 PM

I snipped a little from resist1's quote which I intended to indicate and forgot.

nnmns

03/30/2005 02:25:21 PM

resist1 said "God, through Christ, extends a perfect justice. And the very best of it is that God is trying to free us, you, me, everyone, from this web of good and evil in which, and from which, we do not have the scope of sight nor wisdom to escape on our own. The web is called "original sin". Christ cut through the web with his death and resurrection and offer of new life." Ok, here's one of my major concerns about Christianity. Why worship a god that set things up that way? If, as many apparently believe, original sin is due to apple eating, why would a reasonable deity regard that as so serious? And if it is so serious, why put the apple tree in front of them anyway? And no matter the source of this sin we all have that would cause us to be toasted why should god make Jesus go through all that and why make our "salvation" depend on a particular belief? A truly strange religion! But clearly a profitable one.

resist1

03/30/2005 12:15:24 PM

God, through Christ, extends a perfect justice. God's perspective is great enough to see all sides of situations, to weigh all hearts, to understand the compulsions and situations that drive us all unavoidably to sin. And the very best of it is that God is trying to free us, you, me, everyone, from this web of good and evil in which, and from which, we do not have the scope of sight nor wisdom to escape on our own. The web is called "original sin". Christ cut through the web with his death and resurrection and offer of new life.

resist1

03/30/2005 12:13:42 PM

AS IS EVERY RIGHTEOUS PERSON, ALSO, for no one has ever escaped at least once offending some else, or putting their own needs ahead of another's, or telling an untruth, or taking what did not belong to him. I, for example, am overweight to obese. Every bite I eat over the minimum I need to survive is really a sin against all the starving in Africa. But in many ways, I find myself helpless to do what is right. How can I control a compulsion that gets worse the more I fight it? How can I give justice to the starving? Send food? Maybe, but I cannot save them all, even if I literally starved myself. That is the dilemma of sin. I do that which I do not want to do, and cannot do the good I do want to do. "For all have sinned and fallen short." Some of us may sin less, some of us may be victimized more -- but we are all in it. It is the original condition of our existence.

resist1

03/30/2005 12:11:37 PM

And that is the whole crux of the matter. When we come to a religion we hear a myriad of interpretations of its teachings, and if the teachers are not guided by an overriding principle such as God's love for us, or if they remain unfilled with the Holy Spirit, that religion CAN TEACH UNRIGHTEOUSNESS. We are all caught in a web of sinning and BEING SINNED AGAINST. We cannot cut ourselves from it without help. Christ is the help. If someone steals your bread, you are a victim, but instead of condemning the thief to hell, I believe that Jesus would have you ask yourself, "WHY did he take your bread?" Maybe because his children are starving because someone stole HIS bread. So the thief is not just a thief, he is also a victim. AS IS EVERY CRIMINAL AND SINNER OF ALL TIME.

resist1

03/30/2005 12:10:04 PM

I believe that is the whole point also behind the "eye for an eye" teachings about justice found in the Old Testament. Before Moses limited what a victim could demand as justice, revenge was taken in person and was total, limited only by your strength and ability to take. If someone stole your goat, you got to steal his whole flock, and beat up his shepherd. If someone raped your daughter, you got to rape all his female relatives, castrate his sons, burn his village, and, oh yes, steal his flocks. As satisfying as that might be to the victim, that is NOT justice. More sins are being committed against the innocent. This Scripture has been misinterpreted for so long as a justification (hear the irony?) for brutality in revenge, that we can no longer see it for the attempt to create fairness that it really is. And we can see everywhere, Iraq, Africa, Latin America, Germany, the results of taking vengeance against the innocent. All vengeance does is create another group of victims bent upon revenge.

resist1

03/30/2005 12:09:42 PM

The trouble with human beings and justice is our lack of perspective. We so easily fall from wanting justice to wanting revenge, or at least to cage up our enemies so that they can no longer offend us. Maybe that is why we are all so ready to accuse others of sin, because we are so easily offended, so easily motivated by revenge and oppression as a means of protecting ourselves, that we lose sight of true justice. That could be another angle on original sin --the inability to separate ourselves from our own needs, viewpoints and rights in order to acknowledge other people's needs, viewpoints and rights. Maybe that was Christ's whole point about "turning the other cheek" and "leaving vengeance to God

resist1

03/30/2005 12:09:14 PM

And we ALL want justice. We all want offenses against us dealt with. And most of us try to avoid being brought to account for our own offences, even if we admit them to ourselves. It's painful being accused and even more painful to admit to failure and crime. BUT, most of us really want those who sinned against us to admit it, to feel that pain, because we feel that that is justice. And that IS justice. However, it is not perfect justice, merely the best we can achieve from our limited position and viewpoint. That is especially true if, when calling others to account, we are not as strict with ourselves. Maybe that is what all religious and ethical debate is about -- how each of us sees events and issues from our limited point of view as to what is "fair". Most humans care deeply about justice, or at least "fairness". Ever watch young siblings battle it out?

resist1

03/30/2005 12:08:21 PM

F1fan: The creation story is a metaphor for the condition of our existence as human, our "original sin", which, I believe needs an intervention from a Higher Power. I have come to interpret original sin as not a condemnation of us all because of what our ancestoral parents have done, but as an acknowledgement of our humanness. We are born into sin because we cannot escape being influenced by it. That is the point of why Christ died as payment for sin. No mere human could stand up to the punishment for all the bad he/she has done. Neither can that same human demand justice from every single person who has wronged him/her. Perfect justice is not possible on a human scale, because we all sin and we are ALL SINNED AGAINST. That is what original sin is -- the environment in which sin is inevitable. The reason we care about original sin is because of the issue of justice.

godisaheretic

03/30/2005 11:22:51 AM

sagenav, that's about right... Witherington writes about "meaning"... within that mix of truth and non-truth that the bible contains, I find much meaningful interpretation of God and of living in a faith relationship with God... that's primary... secondary is the question of history and myth... either way, the bible points to the reality of God... in my opinion... peace. David

sagenav

03/30/2005 08:54:52 AM

The bible is man's interpretation of God, which means it contains some truths, some half-truths and some outright falsehoods. To interpret it as literal or "true history" will lead one down a slipperly slope to self-delusion and hypocrisy. Just ask Pat Robertson or Jerry Falwell.

brigid

03/30/2005 08:18:59 AM

Actually the are seven books in the Catholic Bible that protestants call "Apocrypha". What the Catholics call apochrypha are other books not included in either Bible. The included books are; Tobit, Judith, Wisdom, Sirach, Baruch, and 1 & 2 Maccabees, and parts of Esther and Daniel. These books were discarded by the Jews whan they decided not to include scripture not written in Hebrew, during the First Century. The books were included at the trime of Christ. They have always been in the Catholic Bible and were thrown out by the Protestants during the Reformation. Incidentally I think that there have been parts of a couple of these books have been found in the original Hebrew, within the last 50 years.

thefish

03/29/2005 11:52:12 PM

I base my belief on my own personal experience, thoughts and revelations from God...that's what. Peace, <

reason87

03/29/2005 11:09:14 PM

The apocrypha is synonymous with the fourteen or fifteen books. These writings are not found in the Hebrew Old Testament, but they are contained in some manuscripts of the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament, which was completed around 250 BC in Alexadria, Egypt. Most of the these books were declared to be scripture by the roman catholic church at the council of trent (1545-1563)- there are many other reasons why these books are not considerd "scripture" - the catholic church basically chose to recongize these books as a reaction relating to the Reformation.

chevy56

03/29/2005 11:07:09 PM

No, Reason, that passage tells me that they were pretty much having a memorial service of some kind, based on the text cited. Again, this proves that there were Christians in the Roman Empire during the 1st century CE- your point would be...

chevy56

03/29/2005 11:02:19 PM

cont...Being of a scholarly bent, Reason,I trust that you are aware that the winners write the history books..ask the Ebionites,Cathars, Arians and Gnostics,to name a few. Your citing Homer is actually a good example of oral tradition being written down LONG after the fact, and the Bible seems to fit that criteria well- an oral tradtion of semi-myth eventually written down, translated, mistranslated, retranslated ad absurdum, ad nauseum. I don't even find th3 different creation stories compelling either-I much prefer the Hopi stories or the Dreamtime stories myself. The Church Fathers you cite were merely handing down what they were handed down- remember the children's game "Telephone"...? I find the evidence for a bodlily ressurection scant at best.

reason87

03/29/2005 10:57:04 PM

Pliny writes "They were in the habit of meeting on a certain fixed day before it was light, when they sang in alternate verses a hymn to Christ, as to a god, and bound themselves by a solemn oath, not to do any wicked deeds, but never to commit any fraud, theft or adultery, never to falsify their word, no deny a trust when they should be called upon to deliever it up; after which it was their custom to separate, and then reassembe to partake of food - but food of and ordinary and innocent kind. (pliny the Younger L, 10:96) - This reference provides solid evidence that Jesus Christ was worshipped as God from an early date by Christians.

chevy56

03/29/2005 10:41:40 PM

Reason, again I appreciate your thoughtful and attentive posts. Citing Pliny and Trajan's letters only gives testimony thatyes, there were such a thing as Christians in the Roman Empire-I recall that Pliny was asking his emperor for advice whether to handle them as criminals or not.Josephus is commonly believed to have been contaminated by Christian redactors. and as to the Chuch fathers, their writings largely fall into apologetics. As to the Bible being "God's revelation of himself to mankind..", first, which version are we talking about here- the Catholic version, the Protestant version which had the Apocrypha removed fromit for no good reson, despite it being included in the Canon by the 4th century Church council which created the Bible?

reason87

03/29/2005 09:47:09 PM

True: the bible is not a "historical" book. However, what is in the Bible has been proven historically accurate. I would disagree - The Bible is God's revelation of Himself to mankind - if you wish to know God, one needs to read the Bible - I agree, it is a spiritual work - it was supernaturally inspired by the Holy Spirit who moved upon men, which compelled them to write what we have in the Bible today - it is supernatural in that it is "God's Word" and God chooses to use it to transform people's lives.

reason87

03/29/2005 09:37:16 PM

You asked for external evidence for the reliability of the bible: 1. Early Christian writers outside the Bible; Eusebuis A.D 130, Papias, Irenaeus, Clement of Rome, ignatius, Ploycarp, Tatian. 2. Non-Christian confirmation of New Testament history - the writings of Tactius (1st century Rome), Suetonius (the chief secretary of Emperor Hadrian - 117-138), Josephus (who was a Pharisee historian working for the Roman government) - he wrote "Antiquities of the Jews" A.D 94 and "Against Apion". Thallus A.D 52, Pliny the Younger A.D 112, Emperor Trajan, Lucian, Mara Bar-Serapion (do a search for these works on the internet if you doubt my truthfulness)

reason87

03/29/2005 09:25:09 PM

Thefish: "that's what I believe" what do you base your beliefs on? F1Fan: "myth" what evidence do you have for calling the Bible a myth?

reason87

03/29/2005 09:16:20 PM

Not only do the New Testament documents have more manuscipt evidence and close time interval between the writing and earliest copy, but they were also translated into several other languages at an early date. Translation of a document into another language was rare in the ancient world, so this is an added plus for the New Testament. The number of copies of the versions is in excess of 18,000, with the possibility as many as 25,000. This further evidence that helps us establish the New Testament text.

reason87

03/29/2005 09:12:43 PM

Two major manuscripts, Codex Vaticanus (A.D. 325) and Codex Sinaiticus (A.D 350), a complete copy, date within 250 years of the time of composition. This may seem like a long time span, but it is minimal compared to most ancient works. The earliest copy of Caesar's "The Gallic Wars" dates 1,000 years after it was written, an the first complet copy of the Odyssey by Homer 2,200 years ater it was written. When the interval between the writing of the New Testament and earliest copies is compared to other ancient works, the New Testament proves to be much closer to the time of the original. The 5,500 copies are far and away the most we have of any ancient work. Many ancient writings have been transmitted to us by only a handful of manuscripts (Catullus 3 copies; earliest one is 1600 years after he wrote; Herodotus 8 copies and 1,300 years after he wrote.

reason87

03/29/2005 09:06:57 PM

In speaking to the authenticity of the Bible: The new testament was originally composed in Greek. Before the invention of printing in the fifteenth century all books were copied by hand. A handwritten manuscript is known as a manuscript. There are approximately 5,500 copies in existence that contain all or part of the New Testament. Although we do not possess the originals, copies exist from a very early date. The New Testament was written from A.D 50 to A.D. 90. The earliest fragment dates abot A.D. 120, with about fifty other fragments dating within 150-200 years from the time of composition

F1Fan

03/29/2005 02:11:59 PM

One troubling aspect of the myth of "Jesus as savior" is human sin is dependent on a literal reading of creation, and the fall of Adam and Eve in the garden. This creation myth itself has no basis in truth, so how believers try to apply the basic story of Jesus as a savior is quite dubious. The Bible (in whatever formyou read it) is a fascinating look back to how an ancient people created a scenario to give meaning and significance to life. I find it both amazing and strange that people of the modern world are still attached to the myths of tradition, and seek many avenues of justifying methods of beliefs shared by those adherents of any concept or religious system.

thefish

03/29/2005 01:08:08 PM

"You remove that, there is no forgivness of sin, there is no redemption, there is no atonement." What if there was never a need for "redemption" because we never really "sinned", that "God" understood all along how we would behave, considering God knows everything and created everything. Certainly, we do have a "compass" inside us that keeps us from "harming" others, I know I do, but I don't have that particular "compass" that tells me that sex is wrong unless married, one shouldn't drink or smoke or cuss or not attened church, or show our naked bodies...etc. In fact, in Genesis it states, "And they were naked and WERE NOT ASHAMED". Somehow a whole "nuther" can of worms got mixed with what we should REALLY feel bad about...killing, hurting, judging, hating, etc... That's my belief anyway... Peace <

chevy56

03/29/2005 02:20:11 AM

continued... BTW, you never did address the point about no non-believing contemporaries of Christ wrote about Him. That surprises me, that a man who had as much of a following as the Gospels claim wasn't mentioned in writing by his adversaries.

chevy56

03/29/2005 02:19:26 AM

Hi Reason, I appreciate your responding in detail. While Albright has done much worthwhile work, I would still tend not to buy his approach that the Gospels were completed by 80 CE. The dates I always heard were well after 90, and also,no non- fundamentalist scholar I've ever read thought for a minute that John who was one of the 12 wrote the Gospel attributed to him, or that Paul wrote every letter credited to him. Understand that writing in the name of another was a well established method of instruction by claiming the authority of a great teacher, and no contemporary mainstream scholar thinks that any of the Gospel writers wrote under their own name, except Luke, who I do believe wrote the Acts. 30 years + after the fact is a long time, and by ancient standards of life expectancy, a whole generation had gone by between Christs death and the first of the Gospels. I feel that that was enough time for the usual discrepancies and myths to creep in.

godisaheretic

03/28/2005 09:52:28 PM

reason87 "The inescapable conclusion is that the NT picture of Christ can be trusted." sagenav "But it is still an interpretation." yes... Witherington's article is just his interpretation... others have different interpretations... there's the reality... by the eyes of faith, some see that the NT can be believed... others don't believe... I happen to get a beautiful picture of God from the NT... somehow the God of love that is pictured there must be OK with the reality that the NT is not convincing to most people... I see much spiritual truth there... the historic details are secondary... peace. David

sagenav

03/28/2005 09:35:21 PM

reason87: even if what you say is correct (some of which contradicts what I have studied) it does not mean that the New Testament picture of Christ can be trusted. Though I have to admit I'm not sure what you mean by that. But it is still an interpretation. How many gospels were there originally? Hundreds maybe? Then a corrupt Roman emporer strong arms his agenda as to the "nature of Christ" and which gospels will become canon in the "new church". Can that really be trusted or reliable? Maybe, but it sure leaves room for error doesn't it?

reason87

03/28/2005 08:47:27 PM

The evidence points out 1. the documents were not written long after the events but within close proximity to them 2. they were written by people during the period when many who were acquainted with the facts or were eyewitnesses to them were still living. The inescapable conclusion is that the New Testament picture of Christ can be trusted. I could say more.

reason87

03/28/2005 08:44:50 PM

Facts involved in the issue led W.F. Albright the great biblical archaelogest, to comment, "We can already say emphatically that there is no longer any solid basis for dating any book of the New Testament after A.D 80, two full generations before the date between 130 and 150 given by the more radical New Testament critics of today. Albrights A.D. 80 date might be questioned when it comes to the gospel of John. There is a strong possiblility the apostle John's banishment to Patmos under Domitioan was a late as A.D. 95-95 in Revelation 1. There is strong tradition John wrote Revelation there at that time. This is testified to by Clement of Alexandria, Eusibius, and Irenaeus

reason87

03/28/2005 08:39:50 PM

The early church generally taught that the first Gospel composed was that of Matthew, which would place us still closer to the time of Christ. This evidence leads us to believe that ther first three Gospels were all composed within 30 years from the time these events occurred, a time when unfriendly eyewitnesses were still living who could contradict their testimony if it was not accurate. This type of evidence has recently led one liberal scholar, John A.T. Robinson to redate the New Testament documents much earlier that most modern liberal scholars would have us believe. Robinson has argued in Redating the New Testament that the entire New Testament could have been completed before A.D. 70, which is still well into the the eyewitness period.

reason87

03/28/2005 08:32:57 PM

The fact of the matter is that the life of Jesus was written by eywitnesses or people who recorded firsthand testimony. The writers were all living at the same time these events transpired, and they had personal contact either with the events or with people who witnessed the events. There is strong internal testimony that the Gospels were written at an early date. The book of Acts records the missionary activity of the early Church and was written as a sequel by the same person who wrote the Gospel according to Luke. The Book of Acts ends with the apostle Paul being alive in Rome, his death not being recorded. This would lead us believe that it was written before he died, since the other major events in his life have been recorded. We have some reason to believe that Paul was put to death in the Neronian persecution of A.D 64, which means that Book of Acts was composed before this time. That's just one "internal" testimony.

chevy56

03/28/2005 08:17:40 PM

Reason, I respectfully disagree with your claim that the Bible has the most evidence of authenticity of any work of antiquity. There was nothing written in the New Testament by anyone who was an eyewitness to Christ's ministry- the earliest of the Gospels is presumed to have been written between 60-70 CE. Paul, and those who wrote in his mane. Having read the whole book cover to cover at least a few times from early childhood on,taken a college level N.T. class from a non-fundamentalist school I have found not enough solid PROVEABLE evidence for his bodily ressurection, much less his existance. Do you not find it strange that we have no surviving information written about him by anyone who was a contemporary of his outside of the N.T. Also, Jesus would be far from the first to be apotheosized by his fan club. No disrespect meant, but you'll need to do better than make a blanket statement about authenticity.

reason87

03/28/2005 06:30:53 PM

The basis for Christianity is the physical resurrection of Jesus. You remove that, there is no forgivness of sin, there is no redemption, there is no atonement. However, one can believe in this miracle based upon solid historical evidence found in the bible. Which has the most evidence of authenicty of any work of antiquity.

mbstruss

03/28/2005 03:23:20 PM

I tend to believe in the resurrection - even though I no longer believe in most of the miracles in the bible (or the literalness of Genesis). In contrast to the myth like stories of the OT, the miracles of Jesus tend to be down played (especially by him). His miracles are so woven into the fabric of the gospels that the narratives would not even make sense if they were removed. Therefore, the resurrection is no harder to believe than the others. It is even known by modern science that matter and energy can be interconverted. However, what dosen't make any sense to me is why God would just open up the spiquet to heaven for about 3 years and then just close it off! For example, he let those present witness all those great things and now we must believe in the accuracy of these ancient stories (or be accursed according to many). I can attest to the truth and wisdom in the teachings of Jesus, but the supernatural aspects, I am less "really" sure about!

watsy

03/28/2005 02:28:16 PM

OK, Sagenav. Based on documents that have been found, I didn't know that there was any question that he existed. Jesus didn't perform miracles to show off(if he performed them). So, when I read the accounts of the miracles, I try to understand the lesson that Jesus or the author was teaching. I would like to hear what came out of his mouth to clear up the contradictions and ask a few questions. I would ask him to skip the parables and make it simple. I would like to describe the behaviors of those on the radical Christian right and see what the Man has to say. I don't think that it matters if he was bodily resurrected.I think that the important question is if he was spiritually resurrected and returned to speak to the apostles.

sagenav

03/28/2005 02:01:36 PM

Why is it that the gospel of John, which is so different from the other gospels and considered more metaphorical, is the one most quoted by fundamentalists as literal truth?

sagenav

03/28/2005 01:59:21 PM

watsy: there are several things you could learn by being there first hand. 1. That the historical Jesus actually did or did not exist. 2. You might witness some of the miracles he performed or didn't perform. 3. You could hear first hand some of the things he said and maybe clear up some contradictions between the gospels. 4. You could hang out at the tomb and make sure that no one actually removed the body. There are others, but these would be interesting enough for me.

watsy

03/28/2005 11:39:38 AM

You bring up a good point, nighngl. I believe in the resurrection, but my faith doesn't depend on it. My faith in an afterlife and the living Christ doesn't crumble if it's a metaphor. In some ways, it makes it more believable and just as easily understood. The reason that I believe that it happened is that I've come to the conclusion that Jesus acted out the metaphor so that people could better understand what needs to take place to find God within their heart.

nightngle

03/28/2005 11:31:46 AM

The problem with claiming that something is a fact and not a metaphor, is that all we can do with facts is explore them to see if they are true or not. Ok, Jesus was thought to be dead when he was entombed, but it turned out he wasn't. Then he physically ascended into heaven (something the good pastor didn't address). If it's his physical body flying through space to heaven, wouldn't he still be travelling, given the size of space? Oh the other hand, metaphors are stories that inform larger truths. Does the resurrection have deeper meaning when we look at it as a metaphor for transcending that which makes us dead spiritually? For me, the metaphors speak to me about the feelings invoked by religion, not the facts - I get to research plenty of facts at work.

watsy

03/28/2005 11:24:20 AM

I'm not afraid to breach this subject, dangerouschristian. I don't think that God punishes us for doubts. There are parts of Christian doctrine that I reject. Much of it has to do with the saved/not saved teachings. There's no PROOF that the resurrection happened. There's no PROOF that the apostles received the Holy Spirit as Jesus promised. There's evidence. I agree with Ben Witherington that the change in the behavior of the apostles, especially Paul, is convincing. I believe this, not because I've read this, but through deep prayer, I've felt myself changed. Accepting the spirit of Christ into your heart, and attending to it through prayer, reading of scripture, etc, can change your heart.

dangerouschristian

03/28/2005 10:55:42 AM

darnay3, henry1 & sagenav... You three appear to be the only posters who are leaning in the direction I'm going. As I said in my last post, the Gospels give little to the resurrection story, and as a Christian this concerns me because if Christ did not rise from the dead as the Gospels (and Acts) assert, then we need to reevaluate this thing. And we must remember that the Gospels were written at least 40 years after the Passion events, which leads to the argument that the stories could've been embellished over those decades. Believe me, this is not easy to air (let alone write). And like my fellow posters mentioned above, many Christians are afraid to breach this subject for fear of their beliefs being threatened. And the "reasoning" Ben gives is not proof enough, since the Bible itself is under scrutiny and has found to be wanting in accuracy. But this must be asked... Stay tuned... Peace.

watsy

03/28/2005 09:43:27 AM

Unless you were one of the apostles to whom Jesus appeared, you'd wouldn't be any closer to the truth than you are today. You would see a man speaking about things contrary to the teaching of the religious institution. You'd see a man die on a cross. Would you believe what he said to be true, or would you believe that he was a loon and continue believing and following the instructions of the religious leaders in the temple. Would you believe that he was resurrected if his disciples said that he was? Jesus only appeared to the people with whom he had expectations. Would I want to be one of those people? Would I want to go from place to place spreading a gospel that was not readily accepted? Would I be willing to go to prison or lose my life to spread the Christian message? I would be afraid. I would only be able to do it with a lot of help from the Holy Spirit.

sagenav

03/28/2005 09:31:49 AM

If it were possible, would you go back in a time machine and find out the real truth about Jesus? Some people I have asked answered "no", admitting to fear of their belief system being shaken up. Others, myself included, would jump at the chance to see what really happened with Jesus if anything at all.

watsy

03/28/2005 09:07:42 AM

I'll have to take that course, Darnay. Why don't you tell us what else would motivate a group of people to spread a Gospel that would ultimately lead to their execution. What else would turn them from fearful people prior to the crucifixion, to fearless people a few days later. Basic logic tells me that people don't risk their lives to tell a fairy tale. I don't believe that they experienced the same wealth, power,and riches that we see our current most influential evangelical leaders enjoy. Early Christians often lost their lives when they called themselves Christians. The Christians who were Jews were shunned by their family and friends. I think that contemporary Christians, including myself, need to ask what sacrifice we make for Jesus. Being true to the gospel does require sacrifice. I don't think that it's enough to get the gold star for calling yourself a believer.

henry1

03/28/2005 04:28:17 AM

Pondering, questioning and philosophising is good. But let's face it, at some point we find ourselves inclined to believe it or not believe it. Only the truly faithful dare to question their faith. Only the truly fearful refuse to come to a conclusion.

darnay3

03/28/2005 01:14:55 AM

"It is very difficult for historians to explain the transformation of the inner circle of Jesus from cowards to some of the most courageous people of their era if Jesus did not arise and appear to them. " News Flash, Ben...experienceing the physical recussitation of a corpse is not the only thing that could give a group of people motivation. Take a course in basic logic and wuit wasting everyone's time with your shoddy reasoning.

dangerouschristian

03/27/2005 11:57:26 PM

I have a concern... When I was at Easter service today, I took a look at the Gospels and discovered that the resurrection story gets proportionately little play in the Gospels. Plus, they seemed to be "rushed" in their presentation. No detail was given to them as compared to the ministry stories. No revelation to his foes. No further teachings on the Kingdom of Heaven-especially since he rose from the dead. Just a few "blanket" verses then up to Heaven. This event is supposed to be the basis of the Christian's hope. If so, then why the above? Is there more to the story that needs to be answered? Or, were the stories written to take away the scandal of Jesus' death at the cross since that where the story may end. This may be a "downer" in response to Ben's article, but it's a concern I have. What do you say? Peace...

watsy

03/27/2005 06:46:49 PM

I don't believe that Paul's letters were written long after the events. I could be wrong because I'm not a Biblical scholar, but I think that he dictated them or wrote them himself while he was alive. They were letters by him to different Christian communities. Some things I base on faith. I base my belief in a God that is Spriritual in nature on faith. I base my belief that either we have the spirit within us, or during our life god can breathe the spirit into us, on faith. This isn't purely rational. It's not something that I know to be true with my head. It's what I know to be true with my heart. Other people, many whom are very rational, believe the same because they FEEL the same. When I read the Bible and the gospel writers or Paul talks of spirit, it rings true to me.

nnmns

03/27/2005 05:54:31 PM

There sure is a lot of taking the Bible at its word here. Remember it was written long after the events it purports to describe (New Testament, anyway) and the people who wrote it and the people who accepted/edited it into the cannon all had their own agendas, on which truth (even if it could have been known) may have been quite low.

watsy

03/27/2005 05:37:31 PM

And....their behavior and teachings would indicate that they were filled with the Holy Spirit. Why would God fill Paul with the Holy Spirit if He was going to make up his own little story and distort God's Word?

nnmns

03/27/2005 03:54:06 PM

Of course the real issue is why anyone would worship a god that demanded such cruel "payment" for sins which many Christians think we inherit from very distant ancestors (explaining why they are so insanely opposed to teaching evolution). Christianity as commonly practiced is dangerous to rationality and to our existence in an increasingly dangerous world. For instance if they continue to support politicians who ignore the fact we are using up the world's oil awfully fast we are in for a mighty hard landing.

nnmns

03/27/2005 03:46:45 PM

I scanned over the posts since yesterday. It gets stranger and stranger here. A question was posed as to why a few of us object to the idea Jesus suffered more than anyone else (if you assume there was a Jesus anything like commonly believed, which I don't). In my case I've heard it all my life and it never made any sense. Either Jesus was a god in disguise and didn't suffer or he was temporarily in human form and knew he had been a god and reasonably expected to be one again so this was all temporary, or he was just a man being crucified like a lot of other men in those days and suffered much like they did. Christian salesmanship demanded more. It had to be the biggest and baddest. Nuts to that!

fromoz

03/27/2005 02:34:20 PM

If Jesus was in fact resurrected in human form, that would be quite appropriate, after all humanity was created in the image of Jesus and God. God said to Jesus “Lets make man in our image”, and so it was, according to the Bible. But what about human resurrection, when people are no more than bones, dust or ash? Are deceased humans magically given new bodies to resemble the old? What if God had created someone who was disfigured or disabled – would God also punish that person after death – or are all disfigured and disabled people rejected by God, never to be resurrected, except to be eaten by worms and burnt in the fires of Hell?

Lchunkylady

03/27/2005 02:24:59 AM

Answers to thefish's question,because on Ascension Day, "JESUS" went to Heaven. One day he will return and take all the true believers,to Heaven. Peace and Love <

godisaheretic

03/26/2005 10:40:08 PM

re: the greatest sacrifice of the suffering of Jesus... the common interpretation is that Jesus on the cross took on the wrath of God for all the sins of all humans for all time... so these hours on the cross would have been more painful than anything else could possibly be... I don't really agree with this interpretation, but I think it's the standard one... peace. David

watsy

03/26/2005 09:56:33 PM

Ron Sider is a professor of theology at Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary. He was interviewed in the April issue of Christianity Today. He says, "The heart of the matter is the scandalous failure to live what we preach. The tragedy is that poll after poll by Gallup and Barna show that evangelicals live just like the world. Contrast that with what the New Testametn says about what happens when people come to a living faith in Christ." Later he says, "It strikes me as being incredibly tragic and, yes, hypocritical for the evidence to show that precisely at a time when evangelicals have more political power to raise the issue of moral values in our society, the hard evidence shows that they don't live what they're talking about." I think because of this, people outside of Christianity look at the cross and see it as a symbol of cheap grace. Am I closer to the heart, or should we continue to debate if Jesus suffered enough?

watsy

03/26/2005 09:45:08 PM

Hmmmmmm. I'm sitting here thinking about this discussion, and I feel that I'm not getting to the heart of what's bothering blimp,nnmns,and fromoz. Mr. Witherington calls the resurrection a miracle. He says that it changed the world then, and continues to transform lives today. I think that's deserving of a little hype. Really, I've only noticed it HYPED since the Passion. I think that what bothers many about Easter has nothing to do with the crucifixion or resurrection and everything to do with the behavior of the religious right around the time the Passion was released. It was during an election year when Christians, to fullfill a political agenda, used Jesus to label non-Christians and, well, half the country, immoral.

thefish

03/26/2005 07:01:02 PM

sunshine, without going into detail, I was OVERCOME by the power of none other than GOD, who CAUSED me (I was not sick, nor dying, nor in an accident) to DIE and then come back to LIFE right here, right now and that spirit told me this is Heaven...or it could be, if only the lost and the blind would WAKE UP and smell the ROSES that God planted right here in HEAVEN. Now, I was taught my WHOLE life that Jesus/God hold the keys, not SATAN, so I believe with all my HEART, SOUL and MIND that I am in HEAVEN... And you can't make me believe otherwise... Peace <

sunshine2777

03/26/2005 06:04:23 PM

'But I have in on HIGH authority that this IS Heaven..." Your "authority" who told you this is wrong. Heaven is perfect and this place is far from it. Besides, God, Jesus, nor the Holy Spirit lie... THis place is satan's heaven, since its the closest he'll ever get to it again... doesnt matter though..... I said my answer wouldnt be good enough....... :-)...

nnmns

03/26/2005 05:25:52 PM

watsy said "Does a person choose illness? Does a person choose the pain that comes with a burn? Does a person who's tortured in a prison in Iraq choose that? NO." Likely some folks suffered torture rather than testify against someone. Prisoners of war have willingly suffered for long periods of time rather than renounce their countries. Soldiers and service people and in fact some women who get pregnant certainly risk immense pain knowingly. If Jesus was as claimed he knew there was a light at the end of the tunnel. A lot of these people don't. I'm sorry but this "greatest sacrifice" thing is indeed a lot of hype. continued below

nnmns

03/26/2005 05:25:17 PM

continued from above And what about the claim he'd be back while some people there were still alive? He's a little late. It doesn’t wash. Christianity, like I suppose pretty much any major religion, has led some people to do good things and some to do bad things. It's an open question whether they'd have done similar things anyway. Nature or nurture? But there sure are aspects of Christianity that could have been improved!

watsy

03/26/2005 04:59:06 PM

That's the problem with people. Nothings ever enough.

watsy

03/26/2005 04:56:47 PM

Well, blimp. Does a person choose illness? Does a person choose the pain that comes with a burn? Does a person who's tortured in a prison in Iraq choose that? NO. Jesus CHOSE to follow the will of God and show schmucks like you and me how to transform our lives to experience the beauty of a life with God. Christians also believe that he did this to give us eternal life. It's about his choice and praising the gift. Sorry if it doesn't seem like much.

watsy

03/26/2005 04:49:57 PM

I've noticed that the Buddhists and other spiritualists who come to this site seem to believe the same thing about acheiving peace on earth. It can only come about by individuals changing their hearts- one by one. You can't force people to love, forgive, repent, and treat people with compassion. I believe that when people accept Christ into their hearts and attend to that, the fruits will follow. I believe that the accounts of what happened to Jesus took place, and it all has meaning for us on a spiritual level. It's not just about the afterlife. The cross is a path of transformation for all of us. We die to our old way of being(separate from God) and rise with Christ(Christ in our hearts) and then live a life in Spirit.

watsy

03/26/2005 04:39:03 PM

level-not lesson.

watsy

03/26/2005 04:37:02 PM

Hey, I'm not an authority on the mind of God, so, I don't know. I make observations and I speculate. That's it. I noticed that when Jesus was alive that he never paid much attention to Rome. He wasn't out to change the whole world in a big bang then, and he doesn't seem to be now. He seemed to be more concerned with the spiritual on an individual lesson. He would flip out at the leaders of the temple, but he didn't pay much attention to the Romans. Maybe because it is only on an individual level that we can experience the Kingdom. The sacrifice came because he didn't have to continue speaking the word of God. He could have said, "Find someone else to drink this cup. I'm outta here." It was an awful way to die. I believe that people who save the physical life of a person on earth are heroes. I wouldn't take that away from them. However, Jesus showed us the path to an eternal, spiritual, life. It was for all mankind. Don't you find that to be pretty heroic?

fromoz

03/26/2005 04:08:14 PM

I see mass hypnosis daily, watching subjects fall backwards before television evangelists. And I've seen how gullible people are in accepting rumours and lies, such as weapons of mass destruction. Are there any Roman accounts of Jesus being alive after he was crucified? Why did Jesus not demonstrate that he had risen to more people, and why does he not reveal himself now to stop the murders of innocents in religious wars, if in fact he is still alive. If Jesus is still alive, how could there have been any sacrifice - surely his "death" was merely symbolic? The life of Jesus (according to the Bible) didn't end as it has done for many people who have given their own lives to save others? I see greater heroism in the lives of many people killed in battle than I do in the life of Jesus, a God who came to earth, but was still aware of his Godly status, and a God that didn't die but returned to live in heaven. Where's the sacrifice?

watsy

03/26/2005 03:55:33 PM

I don't think that the Gospel of Thomas was written in a narrative, Fromoz. It was basically a collection of sayings by Jesus. Because there's no context, I have trouble deciphering the meaning. I'm not so great at it when there is context. These are the exact words: "Look, I shall guide her to make her male, so that she too may become a living spirit resembling you males. For every females who makes herself male will enter the Kingdom of Heaven." I don't think that he's talking about a sex change. Maybe he means that every female that can accept that she is worthy(like a male) of the kingdom will enter the kingdom. One needs to believe that they are worthy to receive the resurrected Christ in their heart, to believe that the resurrected Christ is in their heart?

watsy

03/26/2005 03:40:00 PM

I believe that Jesus was resurrected. I believe that he appeared to many disciples and all of the apostles. I don't find it hard to believe that one person could hallucinate, but 11 people having the same hallucination, all at the same time? How else was God to tell the world that Jesus lives(whether in body or spirit)without the resurrection? The disciples all thought that it was over. They needed to see an empty tomb to understand that it was not. They became believers in the living Christ by seeing the living Christ. But Jesus says, "Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed." I believe that Christ is living in spirit in the hearts of men. I believe that you have to believe that here's risen and able to enter our hearts. Then you have to be intentional about living a life in the spirit through prayer, growing in the Word, and following his commandments.

thefish

03/26/2005 02:55:12 PM

But I have in on HIGH authority that this IS Heaven... And, no that answer does not suffice... For me it is a metaphorical risen...he is RISEN in my heart and anyone's heart who does not allow hate to enter... Peace <

sunshine2777

03/26/2005 02:38:16 PM

First: The Gospel of Thomas is not a true gospel and shouldnt be relied upon for truth. Next: Anyone who believes in, follows and lives their life for Jesus is a disciple. Male and female. Jesus has 12 male apostles. They did treat women pretty much as property back in that time, but Jesus's life on earth also brought women up, He talked to them, etc. He went against the culture. God will always use the people and things that man looks on as below him to get His message across and for His glory.

fromoz

03/26/2005 02:09:17 PM

Ben Witherington III mentions female disciples, what female disciples? The last verse of the Gospel of Thomas has Jesus planing on changing Mary to a man because some male disciples didn't want her around, the belief being that women were not worthy of life. If that was not the attitude at the time, why did Jesus not select any female disciples, as distinct from the females who just hung around? I accuse Ben Witherington III of distorting the facts?

fromoz

03/26/2005 01:53:06 PM

It's human nature that when a loved one dies that we see and hear “hallucinations” of those people as if they were still alive. It happened to me with the deaths of my mum and dad, and I know it happens with other people. For me, that's the nature of the so-called resurrection of Jesus. If Jesus is still alive today, in heaven or on earth, why does he turn his back on Terri Schiavo and all the others suffering in the world?

sunshine2777

03/26/2005 01:37:30 PM

"If Jesus PHYSICALLY arose, not in spirit, but PHYSICALLY, to ETERNAL LIFE...why isn't he STILL HERE???" Simple answer which wont be good enough: He is in heaven. Heaven is not a location on this planet and is not accessible in these bodies we have. But if that answer doesnt suffice and you have enough patience and are living at the right time in history, then just wait and you'll see Him come back "in the physical". :-)

thefish

03/26/2005 01:00:04 PM

I have one puzzling question that never gets answered to my satisfaction: If Jesus PHYSICALLY arose, not in spirit, but PHYSICALLY, to ETERNAL LIFE...why isn't he STILL HERE??? Could someone please 'splain that to me??? Peace <

ekdglaubig

03/26/2005 12:39:53 PM

A resounding "amen" from the hilltops for this. The miracle of Christ's resurrection is one that we should always keep in mind in our lives - even after Easter.

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