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42 Comments

  1. Chris Barrett
    01 March 2015 @ 6:20 pm

    Jack, you have written a very creative, emotive piece. A decade or so ago I think it would have tugged my heart strings and been found compelling.

    Today, I read it with a sense of, almost, .. horror? How can we go on defending such stories? As I read through I kept getting images of an orange clad captive with a knife held to his throat by the black clad captor.

    And then I read this bit:

    “Only those who have not heard the Voice that knows no disobedience, the Word that creates its own reality, can imagine that Abraham had a choice.”

    …and the orange clad victims came into sharp focus. I wondered: Is that the voice that IS hear too? How would we know… how would we tell them it is not, what right do we have to say it is not, especially if we uphold such stories as the one on which you write …? 20 Christians bloody the sea as their killers obey the voice that cannot be disobeyed. Not connected? Poles apart in their gravity, but built on the same concept?

    I had trouble with your two options at the outset, but by the time I got to the end my biggest issue was your defense of such a myth.

    But, then, I remember… I’ve preached such sermons before…oh the things we do from our dark glass..

    Sorry, Jack, I just want to prod you to look a little wider and consider the implications of glorifying Abraham’s actions.

    Edit: “It was severe. “Horrible,” “absurd,” “cruel” are thrown against Abraham’s God. It made no sense; it was a contradiction; it seems immoral. Sons and daughters revolt against being bait in a divine ploy. Holier than Yahweh we claim we would never agreed to murder, no matter what God asked.” Thanks for remaking my point, Chris.

    • Jim Hamstra
      07 March 2015 @ 4:05 am

      Do not be overcome by evil but overcome evil with good.

      When we obsess over the atrocities of terrorists we become terrorized and the terrorists have succeeded.

      The way NOT to become terrorized is NOT to obsess over the atrocities they commit. The way NOT to let the terrorists control our minds is NOT to pay them the attention they crave.

      The whole reaction of the Western world to terrorism is irrational. Do we need to hunt down and dispose of this human trash? YES Do we need to make them the primary focus of our national and personal priorities? NO

      And when people come to view God as the ultimate terrorist then Satan has won.

      Satan is the ultimate terrorist – God is NOT.

  2. Elaine Nelson
    01 March 2015 @ 7:37 pm

    That is one of the most disturbing stories in the Bible; but hasn’t Jesus’ crucifixion been compared as similar to Isaac and the animal sacrifices of Judaism?

    There is no limit to the analogies that are used in Christianity that have been compared to the OT stories, many are myths that have been told for centuries as literal for which there are not evidences at all.

    Edit: Your point? I’m Elaine and I think the Bible is myth? Please talk about the story, not your opinion of Scripture.

  3. Bill Garber
    01 March 2015 @ 8:40 pm

    Outrageously Outstanding, Jack!

    What a grand retelling of a foundational legend underlying sacrifice. Legends, of course, arise out of verifiable realities in almost every case.

    You have certainly got me thinking.

    Abraham was apparently in a land where sacrifices were the norm when seeking divine favor, and sacrificing one’s first child was the ultimate value to be sacrificed. It is one thing to offer a possession and quite another to offer one’s progeny, one’s literal best hope to live beyond one’s death.

    Whether God was speaking at the outset or only at the moment the knife would do its work is a practical question in terms of the veracity of the story. It may be meaningless in terms of the truth of the story, the truth being that sacrifice is a symbol rather than a value proposition in the Old Testament. Sacrifice in reflection in the CE is indeed foreshadowing. What sacrifice actually seemed BCE is likely much less so. The story of Abraham’s attempt to sacrifice Isaac may well be the profound justification with regard to why there is no human sacrifice in Judaism. True enough if indeed it is.

    It seems the story is being mispreached,, though, when declaring that our faith is inadequate when we refuse to commit as Abraham committed to doing the work of the voice of God.

    The hero of this story is God so this story cannot be about us? This story vividly makes the point that sacrifice is nothing to the God of everything. And our attempt to demonstrate our commitment to God is utterly meaningless, totally obliterated by the commitment of God to us his creation, starting in the very beginning, in Genesis, and made certain by the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, God’s son, and never more true than in our lives this very day.

    You are so right, Jack, we do well to respect the story of the God of Abraham and Isaac on mount Moriah, especially today.

    • Bill Sorensen
      02 March 2015 @ 7:16 pm

      “The hero of this story is God so this story cannot be about us? This story vividly makes the point that sacrifice is nothing to the God of everything. And our attempt to demonstrate our commitment to God is utterly meaningless, totally obliterated by the commitment of God to us his creation, starting in the very beginning, in Genesis, and made certain by the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, God’s son, and never more true than in our lives this very day.” Bill Garber

      That seems a little creative in interpretation to me, Bill. For me personally, it demonstrates both God and Abraham from two different perspectives. God’s gift of His Son that we are all guilty of murdering, and Abraham’s faith in God’s gift. Abraham understood that God could raise his son from the dead if necessary.

      It is a very comprehensive illustration of several factors, including Isaac’s willingness to participate as well. By reading some of the posts, it seems some miss the obvious point for various reasons.

  4. RonCorson
    02 March 2015 @ 5:55 am

    It is interesting to see how people still think the point of the story was to “illuminate Calvary”. There really is no such thing as illuminating something that has not happened yet. It is like pointing a lit flashlight into the clear dark of the night sky. It shows nothing!

    No the story is very likely meant to show the difference between the God of Israel and the neighboring gods. The God of Israel was not going to demand human sacrifices. The story got rid of the idea of human sacrifice and encouraged that of animal sacrifices, which of course became the mainstay of the Israelite worship services.

  5. EARL CALAHAN
    02 March 2015 @ 12:11 pm

    Jack, you have brought to life the story of Issac.
    i could tremor in the balance of the scales, would
    or could Abraham carry through with the unbelievable suggestion (demand of God)that he sacrifice his son as a demonstration of faith??
    i would have failed this test. Would have sacrificed myself.
    Speaking of an analogy of Abraham/Issac versus
    Jihadist/Enemy Prisoner, The depth of gut wrenching of Love and Hate are represented here, the aeons old Heavenly Controversy.

    • Elaine Nelson
      02 March 2015 @ 1:33 pm

      Much like the emotionally draining sermons that have given every single torturing pain while Jesus was hanging in the cross, preachers have mined pitying catharsis from their audiences. But to what affect? Is that what we should be emphasizing to tell of Jesus’ love? That he not only gave his life for sinners, but chose the most agonizing form?

      No one, until years later devised such an explanation. No one who saw it at the time ever conceived such an idea. It was dependent on those who never knew Jesus or who heard him to construct so many variations of why Jesus did this as the only way man could be saved. It is a retrospective explanation of an event that had no such meaning to the spectators.

  6. Steve Ferguson
    02 March 2015 @ 5:33 pm

    Chris and Elaine clearly don’t like the biblical story of Abraham attempting to sacrifice his son Isaac, and thus attack the Bible itself. They seem to see it as barbaric.

    I was thinking about death and sacrifice the other day. Yes, it is pretty terrible, but at least eating meat was solemnised in sacrifice. Today we buy meat in plastic wrapping from supermarkets, who get their food from industrialised abbatoirs.

    Even human death is more hidden today than any other period of history. Old people are put in nursing homes. Even movies are more violent but that violence is depersonalised by two-dimensional evil henchmen. Sex is no longer the last taboo – death is.

    No wonder then that moderns, including Chris and Elaine, so hate this biblical story. Their aversion is perhaps simply a symptom of the modern taboo on death.

    • Steve Ferguson
      03 March 2015 @ 5:45 am

      Really Chris, I think my second paragraph is entirely the point. Is there any wonder that traditional atonement theory has declined amongst theologians, upon which the story of Abraham is based, at the same time death is made more distant? Death is now such a taboo that we even want to cleanse Judeo-Christian religion of it.

      But closer to what you want to talk about, you seem horrified by how barbarous this story is. To you it seems little different what what ISIS is doing to hostages in jump suits. But that’s the point, as I see it reflected in Jack’s essay (I could be wrong). The story is meant to horrify us. We are meant to be sickened by it. I am horrified and sickened by it.

      That is the price of sin. To free you as a proverbial ISIS hostage God had to allow the biggest ISIS of them all to slit His own son’s throat, as if Jesus was wearing an orange jump suit. ISIS are such evil b*stards that is just the sort of crazy deal they’d take.

      I know your fear is that if Abraham hears voices of God telling him to do such a terrible thing then how is that different from ISIS claiming to obey God’s voice also in doing similarly horrible things. There are two major differences Chris.

      First, Abraham didn’t actually do the act. Take note of that. The story is not meant to condone such violence but rather to point out how horrible it is.

      Second, ISIS leaders don’t claim to hear God’s voice. They are like Jack’s metaphorical cat, thinking they are making true sacrifices to God when they really aren’t.

      Edit: Exactly, the sacrifice of me by you is the pagan and ISIS plan. “Here god have some infidels.” “Here god have some cattle I russeled from the Amalakites.” The Father God demands sacrifice too, but the animal sacrifices were only to give some financial weight (a thousand pound bull was like a $1,000 bill Dr. Les Hardinge used to say) to the ceremony, to teach that sin was real and expensive. But at the heart of the Father God’s sacrificial plan was this–The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. Psalm 51:17

      • Chris Barrett
        03 March 2015 @ 12:53 pm

        Stephen, what if “sin”, (in the theological context/sense) were an invention? As I believe it is. Without such “numbing” excuses perhaps more of us would see such things as sickening and horrifying.

        Is this not also a link between IS and this story, among others: Something that is seen as “God’s will in the battle of evil loses its horror for us because the “responsibility” is moved from us to God and we can justify anything. Or even take glory in it as IS do, and Jack does with the story.

        I didn’t actually say IS hear God’s voice. I said they obey the voice that cannot be disobeyed. Ie the command of their god (as they read it) in “their” holy book.

        • Steve Ferguson
          03 March 2015 @ 3:47 pm

          Chris: “I didn’t actually say IS hear God’s voice.”

          That is where we disagree Chris. ISIS definitely would not claim to have a prophetic experience, because that would undermine their fanatical belief that Mohammed was the last prophet.

          Again, you are confusing Abraham for Jack’s metaphorical cat.

        • Steve Ferguson
          03 March 2015 @ 3:50 pm

          Chris: “what if “sin”, (in the theological context/sense) were an invention? …Or even take glory in it as IS do, and Jack does with the story.”

          Don’t you think that societies that denied ‘sin’ are just in much danger of developing just as horrifying an ethic. Didn’t Marxism deny the notion of sin? Didn’t Nietzche, who inspired the Nazis. Look how they turned out!

      • Chris Barrett
        03 March 2015 @ 3:37 pm

        Stephen, here’s a link to an abstract. If this is anything to go by, your thesis that death is a taboo may not be straightforward.

        Link: http://soc.sagepub.com/content/25/2/293.abstract

        • Chris Barrett
          03 March 2015 @ 4:22 pm

          Stephen, no I don’t think societal denial of sin would create the same danger.

          Human society seems to me to show a steady improvement in its ethic and respect for life over the millennia. Both its own and other creature life.

          This improvement is sometimes in spite of religion and sometimes because of it (perhaps less often the latter than some like to think).

          If religion is an invention of humans then the “ethics” and “values” (or absence of them) all spring from the same well anyways.

          The Marxist and Nazi examples you give seem to me to illustrate the danger of any ideology bought into to the point where human conscience is stifled.

          Religious ideology has exactly the same potential to stiffle the conscience.

          Yes, I admit, we humans have invented some pretty horrible god’s in the past, and some pretty horrible ideologies too.

          On the other hand, in our good moments, when we strip away the fogs of “otherization” and see the other – we are capable of beautiful ethics – of “seeing” our neighbor as we would ourselves. (twist on love your neighbor – both an oversimplification, but hopefully makes the point)

          Religion and ideologies warp our consciences and blind us.

  7. Steve Ferguson
    03 March 2015 @ 5:37 am

    And what do you fear Elaine? What are you projecting by continually visiting this place? We all project something?

    I admit the story is hard to accept because like you I live in the modern world, where such stories indeed seem barbaric. But the point is the story is meant to seem barbaric – that’s the point.

  8. Serge Agafonoff
    03 March 2015 @ 7:02 am

    ‘What happened on Mount Moriah? Immoral religion, or immortal revelation? Why Worship This God?’

    Why indeed! Cat sacrifice? Seriously? The use of this as analogy or mere metaphor reveals how wide of the mark this blog is. My cat brings me rodents cos the little critter wants to show off. And he likes fresh meat.

    I thought you were getting close to the mark, Jack, when you said ‘throw away.. pride…’

    What happened on Mt Moriah was a setting of the ground rules for Judaistic thinking: Obey Obey Obey.

    Most of the OT was composed during and after the Babylonian captivity, which itself was attributed to divine retribution for disobedience. Sacrifice of the best of one’s herd was none other than appeasement of the divine wrath.

    Worship a God like that? Not any more we don’t. Jesus came at the end of a line of prophets who were questioning the industrial scale system of temple sacrifice as far back as Isaiah.
    Isa 1:11 To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me? saith the LORD: I am full of the burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts; and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he goats.

    But the priests had to be fed somehow so they system had to be maintained. Until Jesus finally showed just how radically different God actually was from that portrayed in the OT. And those preachers that Elaine describes, who wring out every bit of bathos from the story of the agonies of crucifixion are simply reinforcing the view that the God of the NT is no different to the God of the old in that He demands bloody vengeance for infractions of His commands, even from creatures incapable of performing them. Worse, He will obtain satisfaction from the tortures and death of His own Son! The god of such a belief is called Moloch!

    No, Jesus taught a new way, and essentially a new God. Abba, Father. ‘Obey’ (which didn’t happen under the old covenant way) was replaced with ‘Ye must be born again…. I will come to you…. create a new heart within you…. etc.

    Before reacting to this thesis, please ponder this text:

    1Cor 2:5 That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.
    6 ¶ Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought:
    7 But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory:
    8 Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.

    Imagine that: no crucifixion. Where would your personal theory of the atonement be without it? What is Paul suggesting here? Its a far cry from Abraham on Mt Moriah.

    • Steve Ferguson
      03 March 2015 @ 7:12 pm

      How Gnostic of you Serge. Yes, we know you don’t worship the Hebrew god, which you no doubt see as some sort of Demiurge.

      • Serge Agafonoff
        03 March 2015 @ 10:46 pm

        Judge not Steve. WHy not try answering the question in Pauls statement?

        • John McCaull
          04 March 2015 @ 5:02 am

          The “judge not” passage is way over-used, especially in these threads. Jesus made lots of severe judgments and He is our example. So did all the prophets. So did all the apostles.

          “Do not cast your pearls before swine” is a severe call to judgment. It is a Semitic way of saying “clap the dust of their villages off your sandals” and is the same point. That too is a severe judgment.

          Let’s hope we hear less of “judge not” in the very hour of God’s judgment. Judgment is not to be human judgment, but only that given by revelation, and that is real and severe and serious.

          Not sure what the point of the quote in 1 Corinthians is. Why bother with absurd hypotheticals like “What if there were no crucifixion?” That would have undermined the whole plan for the salvation of the race of Adam, determined before time existed.

          God knows the end from the beginning, but to safeguard freedom (the key element in love) He does not reveal what is absolutely going to happen, only what CAN be achieved by correct response.

          And, by the way, the crucifixion is not necessarily the death of the Lamb of God. Read the passages in Zechariah that picture a different form of death, and remember that “looking on Him whom they have pierced” is a reference to sacrifice. Again, look at Zechariah.

          And note that in Daniel 9 the Anointed was “cut off/annihilated” by the action of the antichrist figure.

          The question is meaningless, without merit, and undermines the nature of the Infinite God. (Yes, that is sort of a judgment, but not the sort of which Christ spoke.)

          Hah, Steve, haven’t heard mention of the Demiurge in quite some time!

  9. Bill Sorensen
    03 March 2015 @ 8:35 am

    I guess people generally hate the idea of a vicarious atonement where God punishes His Son for the sin of Adam and his children. They hate the words like “punishment” and “wrath” and “appeasement” in the hopes that God would have no such attitude toward the sin of rebellion and an “in your face” attitude toward God.

    People hope they can limit sin to ignorance and not rebellion. After all, if we are simply ignorant, how can God deal with us on a level of rebellion and deliberate rejection of truth and righteousness?

    So we create a god of our own imagination in the hopes of escaping the punishment we truly deserve for rebellion. Jesus died for both types of sin. Ignorance and rebellion. And to limit sin to ignorance only is a false idea that Satan would love everyone to accept and embrace. Including himself, as he claims his whole conflict with God was never on the basis of rebellion. Just keep it up. You will find yourself on the outside, looking in, just like Satan.

    • Chris Barrett
      03 March 2015 @ 12:58 pm

      Bill, I see no evidence for an “inside” and an “outside”.

      Such constructs are human and only contribute for ways we can “otherize” one another.

      I see you… do you see me?

      …no, because I am other to you.

      • Bill Sorensen
        03 March 2015 @ 2:24 pm

        I am sure that is how you see it, Chris, because this is what you choose to believe. But it does not fit the biblical format.

    • John McCaull
      04 March 2015 @ 5:10 am

      “Sin” in our Bibles is a flattening of the Hebrew.

      There is, for instance, “transgression” where the human goes over into God’s territory, taking God’s authority and glory to himself/herself or ascribing it to another human or Satanic agencies.

      But “pasha” is rebellion, plain and simple. Here the sinner has not wandered (sort of haplessly, aimlessly, or even ignorantly) into sin. Here the sinner is in deliberate, open rebellion to God’s authority. Such persons are fairly easy to spot, and the difference between the two is hardly subtle.

      Then there is plain old “iniquity” which is the worst possible category. Here “sin” is a kind of madness that can lead into anyu disastrous course, murder, rape, promiscuity, drug use, etc and is never an accident. It is an end-point, self-destruction, the kind of sin that proves “the result of sin is death” is not because God has ordered it so, but rather because that it the nature of sin!

      The refined and numerous concepts of “sin” are not human constructs and have to be taken seriously. So far, God via the Holy Spirit has always placed a check on sin. The will of God in the final tribulation/trouble is to leave sin unrestrained, to make a demonstration to horrific that no sentient being, not even the demons, can deny the obvious.

  10. Steve Ferguson
    03 March 2015 @ 5:10 pm

    Chris: ““what if “sin”, (in the theological context/sense) were an invention?”

    And what if sin is not an invention? Virtually every great philosopher and religious leader in history has emphasised, as an almost agreed starting point, that there is something ‘wrong’ with this world.

    Edit: People who don’t believe in sin, and aren’t afraid of death are ill, we call them psychopaths. The rest of us know all too well the truth of what G.K. Chesterton said, “Original Sin is the one doctrine that is empirically provable.”

    • Chris Barrett
      03 March 2015 @ 11:36 pm

      Stephen, I think the only place I would agree with you on those not being afraid of death being psychopaths would be IS militants. They fear not death because of their religious convictions. Psycho’s indeed. Other than this I object to your point.

      I know many good people who are at peace with the reality that we all die. Psychopaths? Absolutely not!

      While I agree much with Elaine’s edit below, I would also object to the concept or state of sin being something religion has responded to and using the term or title of “sin”. This ties in to my objection also to your original sin being an empirically provable thing. How so?

      Where I do agree with Elaine, and perhaps the concept behind your point is this: Human nature is capable of actions we can describe as brutal, horrible, bad, wrong, destructive etc.

      And, religion has loaded these concepts into a God/theological context and uses terms like “sin”, and “evil” etc.

      It is this state or aspect of our nature that I agree religion has responded to, but these characteristics and traits need not represent anything “original” or “pre-fallen” or the like. They may indeed be nothing more than “what we are”. Just as Jacks cat is what it is.

      The good news is that the human creature has evolved to a point where we can stand back and look at our behavior and evaluate it in the ways we do. (some other creatures can do so in ways too). Just as we can see this weakness, (some call it brokenness – but this implies a pre-broken state for which there may be no evidence) we can also see the beautiful, we can see our neighbor, we can know what it means to uphold a Golden rule or the like.

      So, yes, as Elaine has said Ethics are outside religion. They flow from the same well of human experience as do our dark aspects.

      We empirically know which are which, just as we can know what it means to be well or sick; hungry or full, sad or happy etc.

      It is religion that too often to muddies our vision of what is good/bad/horrible/destructive/ etc. Other ideologies at times blind us too.

      • Steve Ferguson
        04 March 2015 @ 2:38 am

        Chris: “The good news is that the human creature has evolved to a point where we can stand back and look at our behavior and evaluate it in the ways we do.”

        Chris, I thought the horros of the early 20th Century killed off such Utopian fantasies about supposedly evolve human ethics. And if there was any doubt, the late 20th Century killed off any notion of supposedly evolved enlightened athiesm.

        I agree with the edit to the post above.

        Chris” “It is religion that too often to muddies our vision of what is good/bad/horrible/destructive/ etc. Other ideologies at times blind us too.”

        Yes that is true. But religion and ideology can also liberate us. It can help us do things that make absolutely no sense, whether it be William Wilberforce’s faith motivating him to end slavery to Dr King drawing on his personal faith as a minister.

        Chris: “So, yes, as Elaine has said Ethics are outside religion. They flow from the same well of human experience as do our dark aspects.”

        But what is the source of that well? To perhaps paraphrase arguments of C S Lewis, if we want to talk about something being ‘broken’, that implies a concept of something being fixed. And where do those notions come from exactly? Sin and salvation seem human universals for which science has no answers.

  11. Steve Ferguson
    03 March 2015 @ 5:19 pm

    Chris: “This improvement is sometimes in spite of religion and sometimes because of it (perhaps less often the latter than some like to think).”

    Chris, I don’t disagree. And you seem to admit religion can sometimes be a motivator for improvement in ethics.

  12. Elaine Nelson
    03 March 2015 @ 8:13 pm

    The greatest ethical standard ever made is the Golden Rule, and no sin is uttered. Sin is a religious construct, while ethics is universal, timeless, and non-religious.

    Edit: The “ethics” of the Golden (and Silver and Platinum and Diamond and Ruby) Rules (there are many good commandments) define “sin” when they are not followed (obeyed). “Doing to you what I would
    NOT want done to me” = sin. Religion does not make ethics or conjure up sin, both are givens. Religion is a remedy, a way of reversing sin, and returning us to ethical behavior. Good religion does it well, bad religion does it poorly. But good (ethics) and evil (sin) are not religious constructs, they are simple realities. Religions try to help us know how to follow good and avoid evil, and when we can’t how to remedy the mess that makes. Religion is the response to sin, not the originator of sin.

  13. Bill Sorensen
    04 March 2015 @ 6:56 am

    It should be more than a little obvious that some don’t believe the bible and simply attack the bible. They don’t try to explain what they think the bible means, they simply throw out the bible and state their own opinion on any given issue. This seems to be more and more the norm, not only on some forums, but in the SDA church on some level.

    So we could wonder if this is the goal of the A-today forum? I hope it is not “Adventist Today” in the church community. To dialogue about what the bible means and teaches is one thing, but to blatantly attack the bible is another. “Birds of a feather flock together” may or may not be accurate. But the phrase does convey an idea that fits some situations.

    • Bugs/Larry Boshell
      04 March 2015 @ 8:11 am

      Bill, what in the world are you getting at, believe or not believe the Bible? That is a completely nonsensical statement. So is the proposition that the Bible can be “attacked.” If so, how and with what? Your histrionics are obsessive. What are you so afraid of? Is your faith being wrinkled a bit? You rail against opinions. With what? Yours.

      If you are a bird of a different feather, go find the flock you like. Visitation here is entirely voluntary. Blah blah blah is widely available elsewhere and might be more satisfying for you. Perhaps the give and take of this interchange is just too much. I’ve seen nothing here that requires you to adjust your thinking, abandon your faith, or see the Bible differently than what you currently do. Opinions rule here. Openly and passionately. Enjoy the ones you like, ignore those you don’t. Try to learn something. I do and I have.

      • Bill Sorensen
        04 March 2015 @ 10:39 am

        Everybody knows the difference between throwing out the bible with your own opinion, vs. trying to explain what you believe in the context of scripture, Bugs. So your “offended” comment is less than a rational response to what I stated.

        You don’t try to explain scripture, you attack it and do your best to undermine its declarations with scorn, ridicule and contempt. And everybody knows it who can read and reason.

        • Bugs/Larry Boshell
          04 March 2015 @ 11:29 am

          You apparently “throw in” the Bible in with your opinion while I am “throwing out” the Bible with mine. So what we have here is a right and wrong throwing opinion. What does that mean? Whew. This is getting complicated.

          This might help your case: You owe me the courtesy of showing me my “attack” on Scripture. It might shut me up since I said it can’t be done. Feel free to enlist all your buddies who are “everybody . . . who can read and reason.”

  14. Bugs/Larry Boshell
    04 March 2015 @ 10:07 am

    The act of expiation, or the process of propitiation (minor technical difference), angry gods is a pagan concept conscripted, ritualized and codified by Judaism and Christianity. It developed on the notion that God became a blood thirsty, mad as hell, deity when his perfect universe was mucked up by those Johnny-come-lately, idiots, Adam and Eve (and in the Adventist version of the heavenly war zone, Lucifer and his rebel conscripts) who screwed it up with “sin.” Here’s my version of the scenario….

    EDIT: Larry I’ve been off line for the funeral of my mother in law for nearly a week now. I have come back and edited out comments of yours that I am sure you believe, but I find offensive and inappropriate. If you do not wish to have your blogs edited you are welcome to express your opinions on other forums that do not try to edit comments. I am willing to have recorded disagreements with my opinions, I am not willing to open comments as a forum for you to promote your own ideas beyond that you don’t agree with mine.

    I propose that mankind is and was what it has always been. Good, evil, sin, are terms applied to ourselves describing defined behaviors. Verbal templates laid over human conditions provide explanations, Judeo/Christian is one, but none are definitive. None solve real problems in real time.

    I bring this up because this ancient view emphasizes a human proclivity for immolation, guilt, self-doubt, and gloom. It’s a universal application of the same syndrome exhibited by abused spouses who feel they have earned and deserve their abuse. What I like about the teachings and life of Christ is what I see as the abandonment of this dark template in favor of none. That is, His acceptance of how we are and the offering of Love as the as the elixir of joy in life.

    There is no condemnation for being human. When you treat others as you wish for yourself, when you are willing to die for your friend, when you forgive others for your type of mistakes, when you experience the joy of giving your hungry child food, when generosity prevails in your life, then the pinnacle of human experience is repeatedly achieved along with the warm embrace of God. It’s way too simple for theologicrats. But it provides life with meaning tied to the heart and transforms the bland highway of life into a boulevard of experiential beauty.

    • Bill Sorensen
      04 March 2015 @ 2:37 pm

      Anybody who would read your comment, Bugs, and think you are defending what the bible teaches has a rather strange way of evaluating concepts to determine what the main point is. Are we to believe you are defending the biblical explanation of the human situation and God’s response?

      Or, should we rightly assume you deny the biblical explanation and opt for your own evaluation of the truth of the matter? If you are defending the bible and its message, then the scriptures have no enemies no matter how convoluted the evaluation may be. And just as a side note, would you consider your evaluation to be in harmony with the basic Protestant confessions of faith? Or do you just “fly by the seat of your pants” and fly off anywhere your imagination takes you?

      Obviously, I don’t think you support the bible as a valid revelation of God, man and what the relationship should be. But everyone will have to decide for themselves how much you and Elaine believe in and support the bible as the final authority for faith and practice. I don’t think I have misunderstood you, or your agenda.

      • Bugs/Larry Boshell
        04 March 2015 @ 7:15 pm

        I would love to defend what the Bible teaches if I could. But, Bill, the Bible teaches nothing. Or everything. Whatever you want. It is ink and words on paper. A reader teaches himself from his reading of it. If it “taught” something every reader would find the same “teachings.” They don’t. Thousands of different churches, denominations, sects, theologies, prophecies, theories, dogmas, predictions, many diametrically opposed, most with mind bending nuances, testify to that premise. Since what it “teaches” is optional, a choice of the searcher, it is opinion based. And then, with the resulting plethora of opinions, which is better? Or righter (sic)? So there is no “Biblical explanation” outside of guestimate, hope, interpretation, projection, faith, belief, and all falling under the general label of opinion.

        Our spiritual comfort levels, Bill, are sourced differently. It is pretty clear that I travel outside the mainstream of Protestant thought, mostly because I am willing to question the presuppositions on which much of it is built. You are apparently in basic harmony with it and appear to have concluded that that you are righter (sic) and I am wronger (sic). Years ago, after many moons of thoughtful, even excruciating evaluation, when I finally chose to head off in this direction, I literally stood outside, raised my arms to the sky, and announced to whom it may concern up there, “you gave me this mind, you must like me this way, we are at peace.” No, the seat of my pants isn’t my compass, my brain is. Not saying I’m smart. Just free.

        I see the Bible as evidence of mankind’s search for God. It can’t be a “final authority” except for those who want it to be, because it doesn’t “teach” anything but everything. It would help if it was dictated by “god!”

        Bill, you and I are never going to hold hands in joy over hermeneutics, doctrine, theology, or dogma. As for me, this conversation with you will suffice as the next best thing!

        • Bill Sorensen
          04 March 2015 @ 8:23 pm

          And your final argument being, “No one knows what it teaches, so we can all simply draw our own conclusion since the Holy Spirit has no viable basis to use to reveal truth.”

          In John, Jesus said, “When He, the spirit of truth is come, He will guide you into all truth.” And Jesus affirms the scriptures are the truth. But now you tell us the scriptures are not a valid basis of truth, because they are beyond any consistent comprehension. So, we all draw our own conclusions totally out of harmony with each other. But in your evaluation, this is OK. So, we have no standard to determine truth. We all “do our own thing” and whatever we decide to believe is OK. You claim God did not adequately communicate His will and therefore, we are not accountable to any objective truth to know and do God’s will.

          Sorry, Bugs. Your whole theory is bogus, even if you trumpet it until the cows come home. I assume you opt for some “spirit ethic” apart from the bible. My goal is not to misrepresent your position, but to consider what it is and show it is totally inconsistent with anything rational for a viable Christian experience.

  15. darrel lindensmith
    04 March 2015 @ 4:53 pm

    “the process of propitiation of angry gods is a pagan concept. ( I agree). and “conscripted.” (Yes, again I agree)Conscripted (put into used)for pagans to understand the Cross.

    God would have to “speak the Language” of human beings to speak to humans. The pagan systems of “propitiation” were pressed into service, and used as symbols for the fact the Creator would punish Himself (take the responsibility) for sin due to God’s choice to create free beings. God, in order to forgive transgression and also take responsibility for transgressionPunished Himself to appease Himself, that He “might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. Romans 3:26

    In context below:

    Rom 3:24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:
    Rom 3:25 Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;
    Rom 3:26 To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.

  16. Elaine Nelson
    04 March 2015 @ 7:43 pm

    But you haven’t revealed WHY Jesus had to die to redeem man, but only stated a theory of which there are many.
    If Jesus was truly God, He could have redeemed man with a single word. But I have yet to hear a cogent and logical reason why no one could be saved without His death; only that Jesus died, and after years, his followers puzzled why the death of such a good man and came up with several theories: to pay a ransom (to whom?); as a propiation (to whom was it required?) and to show His great love.

    We forget that all those who wrote of this put words in Jesus’ mouth wrote decades later during the time they were wondering “Why?”

    All the explanations are based on pagan sacrifices, first given to the Israelites, closely resembling the
    idolatrous cultures around them: Egypt, Canaan, Greece and Rome. But while most of these surrounding cultures demanded only animal sacrifices, Christianity demanded a human.

    • Bugs/Larry Boshell
      04 March 2015 @ 8:36 pm

      That God had to send Christ to die illustrates a powerless God, limited to a certain course of action…

      EDIT: Larry I’ve been off line for the funeral of my mother in law for nearly a week now. I have come back and edited out comments of yours that I am sure you believe, but I find offensive and inappropriate. If you do not wish to have your blogs edited you are welcome to express your opinions on other forums that do not try to edit comments. I am willing to have recorded disagreements with my opinions, I am not willing to open comments as a forum for you to promote your own ideas beyond that you don’t agree with mine.

  17. darrel lindensmith
    05 March 2015 @ 7:46 am

    “If Jesus was truly God, He could have redeemed man with a single word” Word’s are fine, but action is what gives them meaning.

    I. God was responsible for the sin problem. (if there is a God I think we agree here since He made us)

    II. Only God could take that responsibility and not by just saying “hey, it’s all good.”

    III. God punished Himself (took responsibility) that we would not.) Notice the word “THAT” in Paul statement: “that he (God)might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.”

  18. Jennifer Schwirzer
    07 March 2015 @ 3:25 pm

    I thought this piece was beautiful, poetic, and carefully thought out.