Gordon Tubbs

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OPEN-FORUM DEBATE | Twenty Questions on the Bible
« on: December 06, 2016, 03:45:07 pm »
Good day to you.

Last week I decided to conduct a debate, but I wanted it to be a different than how we’ve done debates before and also have it be open. Based off some recent polls and opinions, the debate topic is going to be about Biblical Studies. This is clearly a large and robust topic (that is in fact worthy of a Bachelor’s Degree at most universities), and so this “debate” is going to be in the form of an open-house Q&A in the format of “Twenty Questions” (I will lock the thread after 20). In order to get the most out of this debate format, please be mindful of the Four Point Box below. If we stay in the box, we should have a great debate.

1. Theists and Atheists/Skeptics can contribute, though please limit prefatory comments and your question itself to 100 words.

2. Try to avoid rhetorical and incendiary questions. ("You know the Bible is full of crap, right?")

3. Try to avoid double questions. (“How do you know this? What is your method?”) Rewrite your post such that it contains one question mark only.

4. In terms of actual subject material, please keep it related to the Bible directly. Questions can be of a personal nature, but must tie in the Bible.


Thank you.

Let's keep it clean and have fun!





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aleph naught

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Re: OPEN-FORUM DEBATE | Twenty Questions on the Bible
« Reply #1 on: December 06, 2016, 05:57:17 pm »
I'll offer a question to start with because I'm interested in the answer, though I don't know if I'll stick around and debate.

Ephesians 5:22-24 (NIV) says "Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything."

This verse prescribes a very absolute sort of submission: for wives to submit to their husbands as they do to God, and as the church submits to Christ. How do you square this with feminism, which maintains that women ought to be treated equally and be given equal opportunities (e.g., equal opportunities to lead, based on their own natural skill and merit, and not based on their sex), and that we shouldn't follow these sorts of gender roles? Are Christian feminists free to not think wives should submit to their husbands as they would submit to God, or is feminism incompatible with Christianity?

Note I'm not asking how you square this with the view that the sexes ought to have equal burdens. The fact that husbands are also given a very extreme marital role isn't relevant.

Edit: There's a bit of funny business going on with the NIV. In the NIV verse 21 is a single statement, making it look as if verse 22 could be continuing in the same context. Thus, allowing for a more egalitarian view of the submission being prescribed. But in the KJV verse 21 is a part of a longer statement, making it clear that the context switches between verse 21 and 22 so that they're not referring to the same sort of submission. Verse 21 talks about Christians in general submitting to each other out of respect for God, and makes no mention of extent to which they should submit. Verse 22 is a direct prescription for wives to submit to husbands, and explicitly mentions a very absolute submission.
« Last Edit: December 06, 2016, 06:07:52 pm by aleph naught »

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Gordon Tubbs

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Re: OPEN-FORUM DEBATE | Twenty Questions on the Bible
« Reply #2 on: December 06, 2016, 10:15:18 pm »
Thanks for the ice-breaker. The answer to your questions has more to do with Interpretation Theory and Hermeneutics rather than Theology itself. Even though I asked to keep questions limited to one per post, it seems two were unavoidable in this case.

(1) How do you square [Ephesians 5:22-24] with feminism AND that we shouldn't follow these sorts of gender roles?

Whilst interpreting Ephesians (and any book of the Bible), we have to ask the classic interrogatives: Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How? In doing so, we get to understand the historical context Paul was writing in, as well as the intended audience. Additionally, what exactly did Paul mean by the word "submission?"

The original Greek is ὑποτασσόμενοι (hypotassomenoi), which means "to arrange oneself under something" as a subordinate or subject shows up in Verse 21. It is merely implied in Verse 22. On the face of it, submission sounds very oppressive, but when you consider the role of the husband to be the head of their wife as Christ was the head of the Church, we have to ask, what did Christ prescribe as a role for leadership?

Quote from: Matthew 20:25-28
25 But Jesus called them to Himself and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. 26 Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. 27 And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave— 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

When you read Ephesians 5:22-24 and Matthew 20:25-28 side by side, it becomes very apparent that the Christian prescription for gender roles is a kind of mutual submission that defers to a servant leadership model. In doing so, neither truly rules over the other, because both submit to their marriage. Brazen feminism that rejects and rebels against male authority simply because it is male will lead to marital strife. Authentic feminism that celebrates equality and liberty can be achieved when both genders work together.

(2) Are Christian feminists free to not think wives should submit to their husbands as they would submit to God OR is feminism incompatible with Christianity?

During 1st century, women had very little rights depending on what country you were in. In the church, there was an egalitarian atmosphere that was culturally progressive for the time (even if we think it was backwards). When you consider the goals and principles of feminism, it is my opinion that it can only be fulfilled and actualized within Christianity. Equality, access, opportunity, rights... all of those things are available in the Church. Unfortunately this hasn't historically been the case, but this is only because the Christian prescription for male-female relations was abused or twisted. If a group of people are secure in their identity, and truly love the Lord and seek to practice a Biblical lifestyle to the fullest extent they can - I don't see any reason why feminism would be necessary in a community like that.
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Gordon Tubbs

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Re: OPEN-FORUM DEBATE | Twenty Questions on the Bible
« Reply #3 on: December 13, 2016, 09:35:30 am »
Quote from: Stoic
(3) How does PA deal with people who have never heard of God, or if so only in passing? Like for instance-- the majority of Asia? Do they really believe all of Japan is suppressing their belief in a God who they may or may not have heard of because they want to all be hedonists?

Even myself, who grew up to secular parents (agnostics if asked, but secular in that I don’t really recall ever having a single conversation about God as a kid - other than a cursory comment here or there ). I knew people went to church and all that, but my idea of the Christian God was probably about as vague the average American's concept of Shiva. I remember asking someone what God was -- this was in high school. And when I first started to research it, It was beyond baffling to me that anyone could believe it. Along the lines of what I can imagine you would have thought of someone tried to convince you of Zeus in high school.

Point is something like PA is going to sound as ridiculous to the atheist, as you would think of you heard "You only don't believe in Zeus because you are actively trying to suppress it and just want to be a dirty hedonist!"

One of the core doctrines of the Christian faith is that we believe that reality is fundamentally spiritual in nature in addition to being physical. This is based on the idea that “spiritual forces” (Ephesians 6:12, Colossians 2:8) are just as relevant as economic forces or military forces when it comes to determining human destiny and growth. To put it simply, Christians believe that human beings are hard-wired (Ecclesiastes 3:11) for spiritualism and religious expression because we are made in the Image of God (Genesis 1:27). This belief overlaps with an evolutionary anthropological study of religions, particularly Michael Shermer’s theory of agenticity, in that regardless of time or location, every human tribe or civilization has had some form of religion or spiritual belief that they integrate into the physical world.

The Presuppositional Apologist reconciles our hard-wiring to explain why humans have a basic spiritual impulse to give ourselves over to spiritual forces, because we have an innate sense of the divine (Romans 1:20). We should not confuse this with “innate sense of the God of the Bible and the truth of Jesus Christ” but rather in a more general, albeit mystical sense. This is why the Gospel has had a hard time penetrating deep into Indian and Chinese cultures – particularly because Eastern civilization tends to be more spiritual than physical. (The notion that East Asians are atheistic is false: Buddhism, Daoism, Shintoism, and other “folk religions” are deeply spiritual/mystical at their core.) So, it’s not that East Asians are suppressing their belief in God – on the contrary – they are expressing a belief in something spiritual other than God which is preventing them from hearing the Gospel and accepting Christ.

The point that is getting overlooked are the subconscious or cultural biases that often shape one’s presuppositions about supernaturalism. In Western Civilization, there is an embedded bias against supernaturalism simply because we are all children of the Enlightenment. Cartesian Dualistic thinking is often viewed as prima facie absurd, because “if there was such a thing as a soul, then how come science hasn’t found it yet?” Yet, in civilizations where spiritualism is openly accepted, it's not an issue at all, as in fact for some it's THE issue. (The movie Doctor Strange touched on this anti-spiritual Western bias rather well.)

The follow-up issue is: how do we test our presuppositions? Is science the singular arbiter of truth? Or are other forms of philosophical inquiry equally as valid, particularly when it comes to metaphysics? A kindler and gentler Presuppositional Apologist should be making those sorts of points and asking those sorts of questions, because that gets more so to core issue of why do we believe what we believe? Rather than come now, you know God is real, you're just denying it! which is actually damaging to a relationship.
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Stoic

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Re: OPEN-FORUM DEBATE | Twenty Questions on the Bible
« Reply #4 on: December 13, 2016, 10:15:05 am »
Gordon,

Quote
The Presuppositional Apologist reconciles our hard-wiring to explain why humans have a basic spiritual impulse to give ourselves over to spiritual forces, because we have an innate sense of the divine (Romans 1:20). We should not confuse this with “innate sense of the God of the Bible and the truth of Jesus Christ” but rather in a more general, albeit mystical sense. This is why the Gospel has had a hard time penetrating deep into Indian and Chinese cultures – particularly because Eastern civilization tends to be more spiritual than physical.

If God gave us a spiritual faculty, it seems odd that he would give us one so vague that it had the side-effect of humans believing in thousands of Gods other than him. Especially when, according to the bible, this is punishable by death, everlasting hell, and it goes against the very first commandment! Why not just give us the 'Christian only spiritual faculty'? After all he is all-powerful. He could have done that if he wanted to...but he didn't and now billions will torment in everlasting hell (and God being all knowing would have foreseen this).

« Last Edit: December 13, 2016, 10:17:21 am by Stoic »

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searcherman

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Re: OPEN-FORUM DEBATE | Twenty Questions on the Bible
« Reply #5 on: December 13, 2016, 01:04:45 pm »
I can find no proof online that the Council of Nicaea decided on the final version of the Bible. However the final books were decided, maybe valuable ones were left out, and incorrect ones left in. What is the theological justification for the current version?
« Last Edit: December 14, 2016, 09:51:07 am by searcherman »
Religion is the general theory of this world, its encyclopaedic compendium, its logic in popular form, its spiritual point d’honneur, its enthusiasm, its moral sanction, its solemn complement, and its universal basis of consolation and justification.- K. Marx, Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right

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Gordon Tubbs

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Re: OPEN-FORUM DEBATE | Twenty Questions on the Bible
« Reply #6 on: December 14, 2016, 09:05:24 am »
Quote from: Stoic
If God gave us a spiritual faculty, it seems odd that he would give us one so vague that it had the side-effect of humans believing in thousands of Gods other than him. Especially when, according to the Bible, this is punishable by death, everlasting hell, and it goes against the very first commandment!

(4) Why not just give us the 'Christian only spiritual faculty'?

After all he is all-powerful. He could have done that if he wanted to...but he didn't and now billions will torment in everlasting hell (and God being all knowing would have foreseen this).

Why doesn't God just ________?

This is a line of questioning that I am sympathetic to, because believers ask it all the time. Questioning God and wondering why he chose to do some thing over other things is an integral part of having faith. Within the Judeo-Christian tradition, this concept is known as "wrestling with God" and comes from Genesis 32. The idea is that we as humans "see through a glass darkly" (1 Corinthians 13:12) in that we don't have the full picture or full understanding about the nature of things - and we likely never will.

We only have so many senses. Our brains can only compute so much. The idea is that we cannot reconcile our limited perception and capability to understanding everything with a being (God) who actually does perceive and understands everything, AND whose cognitive capabilities are altogether different (Isaiah 55:8-9) than ours. What this means fundamentally is that a common sense solution to a problem may not exactly be what God has in mind. So to answer your question, a "Christian-only" spiritual sense and programming our brains to make the Gospel more neurologically receptive would violate our free will. God wants us to make a free and unencumbered choice to follow him, because then it will be genuine.

The only way to get people to make that choice is to utilize a human agency to do the groundwork. We can read from Genesis 1:28 that the original purpose of mankind was to exercise dominion over the Earth. We weren't made to worship. We weren't made to practice religion. We weren’t made merely to know God and accept the Gospel like a robot. We were made to advance the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth. This is why Christ continually preached about “the coming of His Kingdom” and reinforced our specific purpose when he issued the Great Commission (Matthew 28:16-20). Our job, as Christians, is to reinstate the dominion that God gave Adam, and the only way to do that is to overcome the power of sin with the power of the Holy Spirit. This all sounds wishy-washy, but the reality is that humanity is jacked up. We kill each other for stupid stuff all day every day. The best solution to our problems and to literally bring about world peace is to make peace first with ourselves, reconcile our relationship with God, and then with our neighbors. Even a secularist can get onboard with that.

If the only thing God wanted was for the human race to simply know of his existence so we won’t go to Hell, this still wouldn’t “fix” the human race. Knowledge without action is meaningless; faith without works is useless to God (James 2:14-26). This is why Jesus gave a strict warning to those who merely pronounce themselves as Christians, but don’t actually do Christian things (Matthew 7:15-29). The idea that the human race is meant to be the citizenry in the Kingdom of Heaven is a recurring theme that warrants a lot more study and reflection than I could do justice to in this format of discourse, but “the game” that God is “playing” with the human race isn’t an epistemological one where our sole purpose is to simply know God’s will, it’s an ethical one where we do God’s will.

The comment of Hell is an interesting one, because the common preconception is that as soon as we die, we immediately go to Heaven or Hell - which isn’t true. Unfortunately this idea was popularized by the Catholic Church, but there isn’t any scripture to support it. Getting the eschatological timeline right is critical, because it directly influences how we as Christians view other religions, non-believers, and those who have never heard the Gospel. What is scriptural is the Resurrection of the Dead (Daniel 12:2, John 5:28-29), which is an event in the future where everyone who has died will be restored to life with a new body. This doesn’t diminish the urgency to preach the Gospel to those who are currently living, but the Resurrection does give the human race a “last chance” so to speak. Based on that, a cursory reading of Revelation 20:11-15 suggests that God will judge people fairly.




Quote from: searcherman
(5) I can find no proof online that the Councilmen of Nicaea decided on the final version of the Bible. However the final books were decided, maybe valuable ones were left out, and incorrect ones left in. What is the theological justification for the current version?

Contrary to what Dan Brown books or conspiracy theorists may have us believe about Nicaea, the “truth” of actually what happened in 325 AD requires a great deal of historical journalism. It was the first of seven Ecumenical Councils of the Church, wherein church leaders debated and decided important issues concerning doctrine and orthodoxy. Essentially, the Ecumenical Councils were deeply entrenched in the metaphysics of Jesus. Given that, the purpose of formatting and canonizing the Bible had one clear theological aim: to convey “the real” Jesus. Given the wide variety of writings about Jesus during the 1st and 2nd centuries, the Council of Nicaea had to employ several razors to get to “the real” Jesus.

Who wrote what?
When did they write it?
How did they know Jesus?
Does the content of the book contain the Gospel?

These sorts of questions are explored in great depth by historians, but the Council of Nicaea used them to determine which books made the canon, and which got cut. Yes - there was some politicization of the compiling, but even when taking the entire body of early Christian literature into consideration, the four questions above more or less function as gatekeepers to “the real” Jesus. I would suggest checking out: The Missing Gospels by Darrell Block and Lost Scriptures by Bart Ehrman.


« Last Edit: December 15, 2016, 06:14:49 am by GordonTubbs »
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searcherman

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Re: OPEN-FORUM DEBATE | Twenty Questions on the Bible
« Reply #7 on: December 15, 2016, 10:59:20 am »
Thanks Gordon. I have to commend your methodology and scholarship on RFF. it outshines almost all here, theist and nontheist alike.

What is your analysis of the criteria for selecting the Jewish/Hebrew/OT books?
Religion is the general theory of this world, its encyclopaedic compendium, its logic in popular form, its spiritual point d’honneur, its enthusiasm, its moral sanction, its solemn complement, and its universal basis of consolation and justification.- K. Marx, Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right

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Gordon Tubbs

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Re: OPEN-FORUM DEBATE | Twenty Questions on the Bible
« Reply #8 on: December 15, 2016, 04:12:39 pm »
(5) What is your analysis of the criteria for selecting the Jewish/Hebrew/OT books?

The Hebrew Bible, aka Tanakh, has had a long and storied history when it comes to its actual composition and canonization. Formally, the Tanakh was never canonized in the same way the New Testament was, although a series of redactions and "final versions" (so to speak) became the standard within Jewish communities. Two historical events give us a precedent to consider dating the "final version":

1. Persian conquest of Babylonia in 538 BC formally ended the Jewish Exile that began in 597 BC when Nebuchadnezzar conquered Jerusalem and began systematically deporting the Jews. During this Exile period, Jewish tradition holds that the priests and prophets began a major recompilation because there was an emphasis to preserve the integrity of the text, as well as the faith itself. Based on that, most scholars conservatively favor 538 BC as a reliable date for what I like to call the “Exile Version” of the Tanakh. This version is 100% written in Hebrew.

2. During the reign of Ptolemy II in Egypt (283 to 246 BC) he sponsored a translation and recompilation of the Tanakh into Koine Greek, which was done so by seventy Jewish scribes. This version of the Tanakh is known as the Septuagint (also referred to as “LXX” in Roman numerals). The translation was completed in 130 BC, but despite the generations and generations it took to get it done, the textual purity is extremely reliable based on scrolls that predate it. The big wrench that messes things up is that the Septuagint added some books that were not in the Exile Version (Tobias, Judith, Maccabees, etc.).

It’s important to consider both of these events, because theologically, the Jews put a huge emphasis on the Exile Version (to such an extent that it informs how they view modern day Jerusalem). The first Christians put more emphasis on the Septuagint because the lingua franca was Greek, and was more often quoted.  The Septuagint also influenced how Books, Chapters, and Verses were organized. These event also influenced the dichotomy between the Catholic and Protestant versions of the Old Testament. During the Reformation, Luther felt that "if it wasn't in the Exile Version, it ain't right" and so Protestants more or less reject the Septuagint's composition, favoring the Exile Version.

In my opinion, it's important to consider the full Septuagint, but not get caught up on the differences (which are largely cosmetic in nature). Ptolemy II was responsible for elevating Alexandria's position in the ancient world as a city of learning and literature, and so we can look at the Septuagint as perhaps a more "modern" version of the Old Testament. That being said, I don't think Protestants are "missing out" on anything from an exegetical perspective, as both Catholics and Protestants read their respective versions of the Old Testament with (a deliberate) Christ-focused bias.

New manuscripts get discovered all the time. New methods of cross-correlating texts to determine meaning and message (for translation purposes) are also important to consider. This is why I think as a student of religion, it's important to get my hands on the most authoritative versions of a translation as possible for analytical purposes. This is also why I trust the scholarship and translation work from the 20th and 21st centuries over that from the 17th. (Yes, that was a smear against the King James Version.)

« Last Edit: December 15, 2016, 04:15:36 pm by GordonTubbs »
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searcherman

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Re: OPEN-FORUM DEBATE | Twenty Questions on the Bible
« Reply #9 on: December 15, 2016, 11:47:52 pm »
Thanks GT, you're very generous with your knowledge. In my interfaith work I hang with theologians, philosophers, and clergy who are their equals in academic education. I'm glad to see a theist in their league posting here.

I like the KJV as literature. But I do know it's not the best translation. What translation, in your opinion, would be the most accurate? I want one to help me in dealing with theological clarity.
Religion is the general theory of this world, its encyclopaedic compendium, its logic in popular form, its spiritual point d’honneur, its enthusiasm, its moral sanction, its solemn complement, and its universal basis of consolation and justification.- K. Marx, Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right

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Gordon Tubbs

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Re: OPEN-FORUM DEBATE | Twenty Questions on the Bible
« Reply #10 on: December 16, 2016, 09:02:09 am »
Thank you for your kind words. Ironically, I have to do “discussion board” posts for some of the classes I take, and they often have to be loaded with academic jargon and fluff to the point of nausea, so public internet forums are a refreshing locale for dialogue particularly because people speak their mind (for better or for worse) rather than regurgitate something they read in more or less the same words. Interfaith or secularist-theologian dialogue simply works best when people express themselves honestly, and then back up their opinions with a sound analysis, which comes via methodology or research and observation. When you see the world how somebody else sees it, your world is opened to new possibilities.

(6) What translation, in your opinion, would be the most accurate?

When picking a Bible to own for personal research, it’s important to consider two dimensions: anthropology and theology.

1.   From an anthropological perspective, we have to take a look at where all the English translation began. In 1526, William Tyndale published an English version of the New Testament, and later in 1530 he published an English version of the Pentateuch (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy). Tyndale’s work was similar to that of Martin Luther’s in that both utilized the Textus Receptus (which was at the time the complete Greek version of the Bible - basically it was the Septuagint combined with the Greek New Testament), as well as Hebrew Tanakhs and Latin Vulgate Bibles, in order to do their translation work. It’s important to consider how significant Tyndale’s work was, because it greatly influenced the 1599 Geneva Bible – which was a full English version read by Shakespeare and the first American colonists. Tyndale’s work also subsequently influenced the 1611 King James Version, which essentially took over the English speaking world. Many Americans today still resonate with the KJV, but two modernized versions of it are very popular: the New King James Version and the English Standard Version. Both the NKJV and the ESV see themselves in Tyndale’s lineage, and so from an interfaith/community relations perspective, either version has considerable “street cred.” The Gideons International widely distributes the NKJV and ESV particularly because of that. The way some verses are phrased “hits home” with a lot of people, because it’s what they grew up hearing in church.

2.   From a theological perspective, I cannot recommend the Amplified Version enough for your purposes. It is considered wordy but that’s only because it is heavily footnoted and they include brackets and parentheses in many of the verses as to disambiguate the meaning of words. Ancient Greek and Hebrew words often have multiple meanings and are incapable of being translated in a strict word-for-word fashion (that the KJV is guilty of). Given that, the Amplified Version includes all possible variations in order to capture what the original languages intended to convey. If you read the Bible and you find yourself asking “what does that mean?” then the Amplified Version is the copy to pick up.

Consider a sampling of John 3:16-21.

Quote from: Amplified Version
16 “For God so [greatly] loved and dearly prized the world, that He [even] gave His [One and] only begotten Son, so that whoever believes and trusts in Him [as Savior] shall not perish, but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send the Son into the world to judge and condemn the world [that is, to initiate the final judgment of the world], but that the world might be saved through Him. 18 Whoever believes and has decided to trust in Him [as personal Savior and Lord] is not judged [for this one, there is no judgment, no rejection, no condemnation]; but the one who does not believe [and has decided to reject Him as personal Savior and Lord] is judged already [that one has been convicted and sentenced], because he has not believed and trusted in the name of the [One and] only begotten Son of God [the One who is truly unique, the only One of His kind, the One who alone can save him]. 19 This is the judgment [that is, the cause for indictment, the test by which people are judged, the basis for the sentence]: the Light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. 20 For every wrongdoer hates the Light, and does not come to the Light [but shrinks from it] for fear that his [sinful, worthless] activities will be exposed and condemned. 21 But whoever practices truth [and does what is right—morally, ethically, spiritually] comes to the Light, so that his works may be plainly shown to be what they are—accomplished in God [divinely prompted, done with God’s help, in dependence on Him].”

Quote from: New King James Version
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. 18 “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 19 And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20 For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. 21 But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.”

Huge difference.
« Last Edit: January 21, 2017, 10:42:36 pm by GordonTubbs »
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searcherman

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Re: OPEN-FORUM DEBATE | Twenty Questions on the Bible
« Reply #11 on: December 16, 2016, 11:57:18 am »
Now this juxtaposition of transitions highlights the difficulties of a polyglot, multimillenial body of work. I'm in an interfaith Quran reading group, (with me and a secular Jew as the only atheists). We are lead by a native Arabic speaker who reads from the original, and we take turns reading different English translations. Some are lyrically beautiful, like the KJV, others like the expanded version, with fuller meaning provided with parentheses. Even with a body of work with a translator of the original Classical Arabic text, written by one man, in a short period of time, we still wrestle over intent, nuance, and the real meaning of a word or phrase.

The collected books of the Bible can only be like this on steroids. This is one reason why all modern practitioners of the three Abrahamic faiths I know, reject the literalism of their respective scriptures to their very core. Unfortunately New Atheists don't see that. That small minority of them rest their case on a "Bronze Age goat herder bad" thesis, which lacks understanding of the role of allegorical narratives in human civilization. The conservative fundamentalists here take that bait and tailor their apologies to these hackneyed straw men.
Religion is the general theory of this world, its encyclopaedic compendium, its logic in popular form, its spiritual point d’honneur, its enthusiasm, its moral sanction, its solemn complement, and its universal basis of consolation and justification.- K. Marx, Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right