FacebookTwitter
Hatrack River Forum   
my profile login | search | faq | forum home

  next oldest topic   next newest topic
» Hatrack River Forum » Active Forums » Books, Films, Food and Culture » Changeable God? (Page 1)

  This topic comprises 4 pages: 1  2  3  4   
Author Topic: Changeable God?
KarlEd
Member
Member # 571

 - posted      Profile for KarlEd   Email KarlEd         Edit/Delete Post 
I often hear that God is "unchanging". What, exactly do people mean when they say this? To illustrate my confusion:

God in the old testament had no problem smiting a city for its sins, or simply demanding its destruction from his followers because the inhabitants worshipped a different god. He sent plagues and pestilence. He stood before his people's enemies in a pillar of fire. We don't see any of this today. Well, we do see cities destroyed, but the few religious leaders bold enough to declare that God did it to smite the wicked are sharply criticized (and rightly so, in my opinion) by most people including most religious leaders. Now it could be argued that God hasn't changed, but the way we interpret his actions and what we attribute to God has changed. There may be some value in this if someone wants to expound on it further, but I can't buy it at face value. If you don't believe that God smote New Orleans for its sins, for instance, why not? Is there any case of God smiting a city for its sins in post-biblical times? If not, does this not constitute a change in his methodology?

In the law he gave the Israelites, he commanded that homosexuals be stoned to death. Today, most Christians would agree that this isn't required. You can make an arguement that Christ fulfilled the law and therefore the stoning is no longer required, but is that not also a change in terms of how God deals with his people as individuals? The problem I have with the "fulfillment" idea is that nothing was fulfilled for the homosexual that got stoned. Christ's sacrifice did nothing to change the mortal consequence of his sin. (i.e. it didn't undo the stoning). And why does God not require stoning of Homosexuals today? Surely if such a thing isn't required today for God's plan to be carried out, it didn't have to be required back then. If God has imparted to our generation a wiser and more tolerant method of dealing with "sinners", he also could have imparted that method to his followers from Adam on down, no? In fact it seems like it might have been easier to do it back then when prophets were more likely to write scripture.

Posts: 6394 | Registered: Dec 1999  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
pooka
Member
Member # 5003

 - posted      Profile for pooka   Email pooka         Edit/Delete Post 
Homosexuals weren't the only ones to be stoned, there was all kinds of harsh punishments for various things. All women spent a good portion of their time in a state of uncleanness, if I understand it.

But the law of Moses did contain provisions for atonement, which I don't fully understand. Something involving the scapegoat.

Mainly my sense was that God's instructions differ to different people. That is why the children of Israel have the Torah, and the Muslims have the Koran etc. and so forth. It is tragic that such instruction becomes the justification for so much strife and killing, but I chalk that up to the nature of man.

There were differing degrees of punishment- a recent scholar I heard said there were 5. Punishable by death, imprisonment, recompense of some kind... can't recall the fourth one, and then uncleanness (for masturbation) which was to be kept out of the community until nightfall and then wash with running water.

It was a strange talk in which he discussed applying this as a solution to behavior problems today. He said that it gives us the opportunity to still keep a promise to God even if we fail to keep the original promise of the commandment we break.

Posts: 11017 | Registered: Apr 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
rivka
Member
Member # 4859

 - posted      Profile for rivka   Email rivka         Edit/Delete Post 
quote:
Originally posted by pooka:
Homosexuals weren't the only ones to be stoned, there was all kinds of harsh punishments for various things. All women spent a good portion of their time in a state of uncleanness, if I understand it.

But the law of Moses did contain provisions for atonement, which I don't fully understand. Something involving the scapegoat.

Wow. I don't even know where to start with that. And I'm about to step out the door. So I'll try to get to this tonight.

Meanwhile: a woman's state of taharah (ritual purity) is not a punishment (what would it be a punishment for?) And Jewish Law most emphatically requires that all repentance be done by the person themselves. The scapegoat was never used as any type of atonement!

Posts: 32919 | Registered: Mar 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
camus
Member
Member # 8052

 - posted      Profile for camus   Email camus         Edit/Delete Post 
quote:
Christ's sacrifice did nothing to change the mortal consequence of his sin.
Well, not necessarily.

The wages of sin is death. Regardless of whether your life is lived before or after Christ's sacrifice, the eventual outcome of imperfect, sinful life is death. Christ's sacrifice undoes this, and in a sense, it does undo the stoning by offering the hope of resurrection.

Christ's sacrifice changed a lot of things. In addition to no more stonings, we no longer are required to make animal sacrifices to atone for our sins.

Has God changed? Employing different methods based on different situations in order to accomplish a specific goal doesn't necessarily mean that he's changed.

Here's an example. I should note that this is an idea that just came to me now. I don't think I've read anything like this anywhere, so I don't think it represents any specific religion's belief...

God's purpose for mankind, as outlined in Genesis, included populating the earth. To accomplish this, offspring needed to be produced quickly (that is if God had a timetable that he was trying to keep) and so laws reflected that goal. That might explain why concubines and polygamy was allowed. Homosexuality, on the other hand, was counterproductive, so it was discouraged by being outlawed.

Now that the goal of populating the earth is no longer important, the consequences of those specific laws are no longer relevant.


But what about all the other ways in which it seems like he's changed?

No matter how we interpret Biblical accounts, it is quite obvious that God's visibility and interaction with mankind is different now than it was before. Once again, I think this has to do with God doing what is necessary for the times and situations of the people.

In early times, people were much more superstitious. It was very important for their God to have a very visible presence if He wanted them to have faith in Him. Today, those actions aren't necessary for a person to have faith in God.

So my interpretation of an "unchanging" God is a God whose grand purpose, attributes, and abilities don't change, just his means for carrying them out.

Posts: 1256 | Registered: May 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Will B
Member
Member # 7931

 - posted      Profile for Will B   Email Will B         Edit/Delete Post 
St. Paul would say (and did) that the law wasn't relatively unwise or bad; it's just that we couldn't live by it.

If we don't live by the spirit of the Law, then we are indeed drifting from the God who provided it. The spirit of the law definitely includes "have mercy on the poor," but I'd say "don't eat lobster" is more the letter.

And we don't live by the spirit of the law. Today, the idea that we should stone adulterers sounds really bad, so we won't accept that they should be punished at all. A hundred years from now, we may think stoning adulterers makes perfect sense, and instead be horrified that he says we should kill defenseless lambs when we can get it all from a food replicator.

The Katrina thing is interesting. I would not assume that every disaster that happened in O.T. times was a punishment from God (the collapse of Santorini? Pompeii? Numerous nameless monsoons and hurricanes?). The flood, yes, but we have a prophecy saying it was. Yet I am skeptical of any prophecy saying a modern disaster is punishment. Maybe that's my modern programming. Maybe it's just that I want a bit more reason to think so than UBL saying we deserved Katrina.

Even though I've disagreed so far, I think it's an interesting question, and it helps me examine my assumptions. Thanks for bringing it up!

Posts: 1877 | Registered: Apr 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
KarlEd
Member
Member # 571

 - posted      Profile for KarlEd   Email KarlEd         Edit/Delete Post 
quote:
Homosexuals weren't the only ones to be stoned, there was all kinds of harsh punishments for various things.
Of course, picking a specific as an example isn't the same as claiming there aren't other examples. The fact that there were many other things punished harshly does more to strengthen the confusion about whether God is changeable than it does to remove it.

quote:
Mainly my sense was that God's instructions differ to different people. That is why the children of Israel have the Torah, and the Muslims have the Koran etc. and so forth. It is tragic that such instruction becomes the justification for so much strife and killing, but I chalk that up to the nature of man.
This also seems to be evidence of a changeable nature. Are you saying that these are fundamentally different kinds of people and thus their prophets had to be given different instructions?
Posts: 6394 | Registered: Dec 1999  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
beverly
Member
Member # 6246

 - posted      Profile for beverly   Email beverly         Edit/Delete Post 
I think that an unchanging God can treat his children in different times from different cultures differently and still be unchanging.

Just a few small examples from more recent LDS situations:

I have suspected that some of the restrictions in the WoW may be a response to the cultural environment we live in. Which means to say, I do wonder if alcohol will always be forbidden.

An even "smaller" example might be the standards of modesty (if one considers these scripture.) In the previous generations, it would have been considered immodest for women in the church to wear pants. Now the concern lies in how long shorts and skirts are. Things have obviously changed here. How much does the shaping of our culture from birth effect how God chooses to deal with us?

The OT times do seem brutal. It may be that because the times and culture were brutal, more gentle means wouldn't have reached the people then. It is very hard to understand how the world looks through the eyes of a completely foreign culture.

Posts: 7050 | Registered: Feb 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
mackillian
Member
Member # 586

 - posted      Profile for mackillian   Email mackillian         Edit/Delete Post 
I wonder if it isn't the god that's changeable, but a person's or a people's interpretation of the same god.

I mean, considering how three witnesses to a crime can have three differing descriptions of a suspect, it doesn't seem terribly far off the mark.

Posts: 14745 | Registered: Dec 1999  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
kmbboots
Member
Member # 8576

 - posted      Profile for kmbboots   Email kmbboots         Edit/Delete Post 
KarlEd,

God doesn't change; our understanding of God does.

Many peoples recorded their various creation myths, stories of God's interaction with "His" people - i.e. whoever was writing that particular story, - and rules for getting along with God.

Many of these rules were essential to the people writing them down; many of them are still pretty good ideas; many of them don't really make sense now that we have things like refrigerators and an understanding of germs and so forth. Bad consequences for doing something = God doesn't want you to do it.

The Hebrew Testament is a collection of these writings from one of these peoples.

The New Testament is a collection of stories about Jesus (written many years after the events, not by eye-witnesses) and the letters, etc., of some of the important early Christians - esp. Paul.

In the 4th century the Catholic Church got together and decided what was in and what was out. They had a specific agenda for this. They needed to settle on a particular doctrine - the divinity of Jesus. Writings that supported this doctrine stayed in. Also, we have no idea what got lost in the meantime.

Does this help? It is sort of a broad stroke explanation. I can go into more detail if it would be helpful, but that might bore (or furthur offend) folks here. Feel free to e-mail me.

Posts: 11187 | Registered: Sep 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
TomDavidson
Member
Member # 124

 - posted      Profile for TomDavidson   Email TomDavidson         Edit/Delete Post 
quote:

God doesn't change; our understanding of God does.

But on what basis do you make this statement?
Posts: 37449 | Registered: May 1999  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
kmbboots
Member
Member # 8576

 - posted      Profile for kmbboots   Email kmbboots         Edit/Delete Post 
The first part (for me) is a matter of faith; the second seems self-evident. I know that, personally, my understanding of God has changed as I've learned more and matured. And I hope it will continue to do that. I believe this is also true on a larger sense for civilizations.
Posts: 11187 | Registered: Sep 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Chris Bridges
Member
Member # 1138

 - posted      Profile for Chris Bridges   Email Chris Bridges         Edit/Delete Post 
Whether you're a believer and feel that understanding of an unchanging deity is true, or a nonbeliever and feel that the fiction of a deity serves a social purpose and changes with the society, a society's deity is developed, interpreted, and defined by that society and will change to meet their needs.
Posts: 7790 | Registered: Aug 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
IanO
Member
Member # 186

 - posted      Profile for IanO   Email IanO         Edit/Delete Post 
quote:
The New Testament is a collection of stories about Jesus (written many years after the events, not by eye-witnesses) and the letters, etc., of some of the important early Christians - esp. Paul.

In the 4th century the Catholic Church got together and decided what was in and what was out. They had a specific agenda for this. They needed to settle on a particular doctrine - the divinity of Jesus. Writings that supported this doctrine stayed in. Also, we have no idea what got lost in the meantime.

Considering that others on this board have quite different viewpoints regarding the authorship of NT books and the formation of the canon (many of them not simply because some pastor "told them so"), you might be a bit careful with your "broad stroke" that negates so many peoples beliefs.
Posts: 1346 | Registered: Jun 1999  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
pooka
Member
Member # 5003

 - posted      Profile for pooka   Email pooka         Edit/Delete Post 
quote:
Are you saying that these are fundamentally different kinds of people and thus their prophets had to be given different instructions?
The torah and the Koran aren't that different. The New Testament and the Book of Mormon also teach, fundamentally, "love God, and love your fellow man." But somehow, we come up with several definitions for each of those 7 words for a myriad of actual practices.
Posts: 11017 | Registered: Apr 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
ketchupqueen
Member
Member # 6877

 - posted      Profile for ketchupqueen   Email ketchupqueen         Edit/Delete Post 
quote:
God doesn't change; our understanding of God does.

Orthodox Jews might tell you that's not necessarily true. [Wink]
Posts: 21182 | Registered: Sep 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
kmbboots
Member
Member # 8576

 - posted      Profile for kmbboots   Email kmbboots         Edit/Delete Post 
How am I negating others' beliefs by stating my own? I assume that people with differing viewpoints will chime right in.

When did say that other people believe what they believe because "some pastor 'told them so'"? I said nothing of the kind and I'm not thrilled that you seem to be quoting me as doing so.

Posts: 11187 | Registered: Sep 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
beverly
Member
Member # 6246

 - posted      Profile for beverly   Email beverly         Edit/Delete Post 
Just be careful not to state your beliefs as fact. [Smile] It tends to get on people's nerves.

This is an example of that:

quote:
God doesn't change; our understanding of God does.

Posts: 7050 | Registered: Feb 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
IanO
Member
Member # 186

 - posted      Profile for IanO   Email IanO         Edit/Delete Post 
Not to derail the thread, but your statement appeared to be more than simply your opinion. It seemed that you were stating a fact that all persons 'in the know' agreed with. Occasionally, we've had people, of completely different ideologies, mind, show up and make statement about matters like they were unquestioned fact. And when they have been called on it (be even people who might agree, but also respect that those on the other side), they have made statements to the effect that those who disagree have a head-in-the-sand mentality or are sheep following someone else's direction. I was merely pre-empting such criticism, just in case.

But I apologize if my statement offended.

Posts: 1346 | Registered: Jun 1999  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Taalcon
Member
Member # 839

 - posted      Profile for Taalcon   Email Taalcon         Edit/Delete Post 
quote:
The New Testament is a collection of stories about Jesus (written many years after the events, not by eye-witnesses)
John's writings, and Peter's also, are written by eye-witnesses.
Posts: 2689 | Registered: Apr 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Lisa
Member
Member # 8384

 - posted      Profile for Lisa   Email Lisa         Edit/Delete Post 
quote:
Originally posted by KarlEd:
I often hear that God is "unchanging". What, exactly do people mean when they say this?

Well, among other things, at least from a Jewish perspective, it means that change isn't even a relevant concept for God.

quote:
Originally posted by KarlEd:
To illustrate my confusion:

God in the old testament had no problem smiting a city for its sins, or simply demanding its destruction from his followers because the inhabitants worshipped a different god. He sent plagues and pestilence. He stood before his people's enemies in a pillar of fire. We don't see any of this today.

Suppose I write a book where the narrative voice seems to be viewing a certain character as bad. And later on in the book, I have the narrative voice treating that same character as good.

Have I changed?

John Irving writes his books starting at the end. He writes the endings first, and works backwards from there. But the narrative goes from the beginning to the end when I read it. So any changes I perceive while I'm reading the book don't mean that Irving changed.

If God is unconstrained by time, which is to say that time is just one of God's creations, then God today and God yesterday and God the day after tomorrow... that's all synonymous. How can change even apply?

It applies to us, though. And, I mean, God even says Himself that if we misbehave, He'll hide His presence from us. So we'd kind of expect to see less in the way of obvious divine interaction, no?

quote:
Originally posted by KarlEd:
Now it could be argued that God hasn't changed, but the way we interpret his actions and what we attribute to God has changed.

Or we can say that the God who zapped Sennecherib's army when Jerusalem was beseiged is the same God who didn't stop the Nazis from exterminating six million Jews and five million others. That the interaction (or lack thereof) in each case is by plan and by intent, and for a purpose. I'm not saying that it's a warm and fuzzy idea, but it's an option that doesn't require God to have changed and doesn't require our perceptions to have changed, either.

quote:
Originally posted by KarlEd:
There may be some value in this if someone wants to expound on it further, but I can't buy it at face value. If you don't believe that God smote New Orleans for its sins, for instance, why not?

For starters, Las Vegas seems to be doing just fine. That's got to indicate something, no?

quote:
Originally posted by KarlEd:
Is there any case of God smiting a city for its sins in post-biblical times?

Dunno. You'd have to ask God. Honestly. If you believe that there are people in direct contact with God right now, go and ask them, and attribute the same authority to their answer as you do to their ability to be in contact with Him. If not, how can there be an answer to your question?

Things happen. Porches collapse. People get sick. Hurricanes obliterate cities. It's not like any of this is new, you know. We just have mass media dumping it in our laps now. In that sense, it is a matter of our perception.

quote:
Originally posted by KarlEd:
In the law he gave the Israelites, he commanded that homosexuals be stoned to death.

Actually, no. He commanded that males engaging in a particular act be killed, whether they are straight or gay. He also gave us rules as to what is necessary for death penalties to be carried out. You have to be warned by two qualified witnesses before the act, and have chapter and verse cited to you, confirm that you understand what you've been told, and that you're going to go ahead anyway. Two qualified witnesses have to actually see you do it, as well and then testify against you.

You have to pretty much want to die to be executed according to the law God gave Israel. The most practical purpose of those prescribed punishments is to indicate relative severity.

Still, if the rabbinic court system were still up and running (and once it is again), that law and all the rest will be effective again. No change here.

quote:
Originally posted by KarlEd:
Today, most Christians would agree that this isn't required. You can make an arguement that Christ fulfilled the law and therefore the stoning is no longer required, but is that not also a change in terms of how God deals with his people as individuals?

It is. Particularly since God said that those laws were eternal statutes for all our generations. For God to turn around and say, "Oh, actually not" would constitute a change. It's one of the reasons why Jews can't buy the whole Christian thing.

quote:
Originally posted by KarlEd:
The problem I have with the "fulfillment" idea is that nothing was fulfilled for the homosexual that got stoned. Christ's sacrifice did nothing to change the mortal consequence of his sin. (i.e. it didn't undo the stoning).

Why not? If you believe that it's now okay to eat a pork chop, or wear linen and wool blends, why should this be any different? I mean, the law is the law. If you believe that it no longer applies, then it no longer applies. If you believe it still does, then it still does.

Or am I missing something?

The lame challenge against Dr. Laura back when she was "being Jewish" was spot on when directed against Christians who hold those positions. It doesn't work on Jews, because we do keep all those things.

quote:
Originally posted by KarlEd:
And why does God not require stoning of Homosexuals today? Surely if such a thing isn't required today for God's plan to be carried out, it didn't have to be required back then. If God has imparted to our generation a wiser and more tolerant method of dealing with "sinners", he also could have imparted that method to his followers from Adam on down, no?

Well, yes and no. I mean, the Revelation at Sinai was long after the time of Adam, right?

Also, those laws were commanded to Israel alone. When someone else eats a pork chop, it's not even something frowned on, let alone forbidden.

Posts: 12266 | Registered: Jul 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Lisa
Member
Member # 8384

 - posted      Profile for Lisa   Email Lisa         Edit/Delete Post 
quote:
Originally posted by ketchupqueen:
quote:
God doesn't change; our understanding of God does.

Orthodox Jews might tell you that's not necessarily true. [Wink]
Highly unlikely. God doesn't change.
Posts: 12266 | Registered: Jul 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Lisa
Member
Member # 8384

 - posted      Profile for Lisa   Email Lisa         Edit/Delete Post 
quote:
Originally posted by pooka:
quote:
Are you saying that these are fundamentally different kinds of people and thus their prophets had to be given different instructions?
The torah and the Koran aren't that different.
Wow. That's... on the offensive side. They're actually quite different. The Torah pulls no punches when dealing with the lapses of our leaders and ancestors. The Qur'an would never dream of doing such a thing.

quote:
Originally posted by pooka:
The New Testament and the Book of Mormon also teach, fundamentally, "love God, and love your fellow man." But somehow, we come up with several definitions for each of those 7 words for a myriad of actual practices.

For what it's worth, one of the wisest men I've ever had the privilege of meeting once pointed out that Judaism has a strong focus on the opposing concepts of strict justice and merciful compassion, viewing each as enormous values.

He pointed to Christianity, which vastly overemphasizes the merciful compassion side, and to Islam, which vastly overemphasizes the strict justice side, and then noted how the imbalances on each side have led both of them to commit the most horrible things throughout their history. Burning people alive during the Inquisition for the sake of compassion (saving folks from hellfire, dontcha know), and slaughtering everyone who stood in their way because Allah wills it so.

Posts: 12266 | Registered: Jul 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Lisa
Member
Member # 8384

 - posted      Profile for Lisa   Email Lisa         Edit/Delete Post 
quote:
Originally posted by pooka:
Homosexuals weren't the only ones to be stoned, there was all kinds of harsh punishments for various things. All women spent a good portion of their time in a state of uncleanness, if I understand it.

"Uncleanness" or "impurity" are really, really bad translations of the terms in question. There's nothing morally bad about tum'ah (the word being translated), and nothing particularly praiseworthy of taharah (the opposite). They're just states of being.

quote:
Originally posted by pooka:
But the law of Moses did contain provisions for atonement, which I don't fully understand. Something involving the scapegoat.

The goat was part of a ritual on the Day of Atonement, but it was worthless without personal repentance.

quote:
Originally posted by pooka:
There were differing degrees of punishment- a recent scholar I heard said there were 5. Punishable by death, imprisonment, recompense of some kind... can't recall the fourth one, and then uncleanness (for masturbation) which was to be kept out of the community until nightfall and then wash with running water.

The final thing that needs to be done to change your condition from tamei to tahor involves immersing in a mikveh. It specifically cannot be running water.

quote:
Originally posted by pooka:
It was a strange talk in which he discussed applying this as a solution to behavior problems today. He said that it gives us the opportunity to still keep a promise to God even if we fail to keep the original promise of the commandment we break.

Yep. God doesn't expect us to do the impossible. We're to do our best and aim for getting everything right. And when we don't get it right, we have the opportunity to repent and fix things.
Posts: 12266 | Registered: Jul 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
beverly
Member
Member # 6246

 - posted      Profile for beverly   Email beverly         Edit/Delete Post 
quote:
Burning people alive during the Inquisition for the sake of compassion (saving folks from hellfire, dontcha know), and slaughtering everyone who stood in their way because Allah wills it so.
Unless you believe God really *did* command those things. After all, God commanded Israel to destroy many nations, did He not? All I have to do is believe that God *didn't* command those things and voila! Jews have commited equally gross atrocities.
Posts: 7050 | Registered: Feb 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Lisa
Member
Member # 8384

 - posted      Profile for Lisa   Email Lisa         Edit/Delete Post 
quote:
Originally posted by Will B:
St. Paul would say (and did) that the law wasn't relatively unwise or bad; it's just that we couldn't live by it.

I think that if you hear someone saying that about the law today (secular law), the response would be, "Speak for yourself." Maybe he felt he wasn't up to it. But God doesn't give laws that we aren't able to live by.

quote:
Originally posted by Will B:
If we don't live by the spirit of the Law, then we are indeed drifting from the God who provided it. The spirit of the law definitely includes "have mercy on the poor," but I'd say "don't eat lobster" is more the letter.

Isn't that a bit subjective? I mean, the same God gave both commandments. On what basis is it okay to place our own estimations on those commandments and say, "Well, this one we really have keep. That one... nah, no big deal."
Posts: 12266 | Registered: Jul 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
camus
Member
Member # 8052

 - posted      Profile for camus   Email camus         Edit/Delete Post 
I think the fact that society constanty changes further enhances the perception that God is changing.

To illustrate...

As a child, my parents would occassionally spank me as a form of discipline. It seemed very harsh at the time, but in looking back, it was probably the most effective. As I grew older, the forms of discipline changed. Instead of phsyical punishment, a stern lecture or removal of privileges was all that was necessary for me to get the point. It wasn't my parents that were changing, rather, it was me that changed, and their actions were based on what they felt would be the most effective based on my situation.

Likewise, I think God's dealings with us seem different because we have changed, not because God has changed.

Posts: 1256 | Registered: May 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Lisa
Member
Member # 8384

 - posted      Profile for Lisa   Email Lisa         Edit/Delete Post 
quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
Many of these rules were essential to the people writing them down; many of them are still pretty good ideas; many of them don't really make sense now that we have things like refrigerators and an understanding of germs and so forth. Bad consequences for doing something = God doesn't want you to do it.

Um... germs and refrigerators have nothing to do with God's commandments.
Posts: 12266 | Registered: Jul 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Taalcon
Member
Member # 839

 - posted      Profile for Taalcon   Email Taalcon         Edit/Delete Post 
As you understand them [Wink]
Posts: 2689 | Registered: Apr 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
ketchupqueen
Member
Member # 6877

 - posted      Profile for ketchupqueen   Email ketchupqueen         Edit/Delete Post 
quote:
Highly unlikely. God doesn't change.
I meant the "understanding" part.
Posts: 21182 | Registered: Sep 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Teshi
Member
Member # 5024

 - posted      Profile for Teshi   Email Teshi         Edit/Delete Post 
I think the point kmbboots was attempting to make is that, from his point of view, God's commandments are really aligned with things that have bad consequences. Eating meat that's older than a certain amount of time could have in the past killed a person without the proper preperation, for example, which could have been ascribed as an act of God. The commandment would then hypothetically me "thou shalt not eat meat past the fourth day" or something.

With the invention of refrigerators and an understanding of germs and so forth, this commandment's original intent, according to kmbboots would be lost.

Of course, this is open to your own personal or religious interpretation of the commandments or religious laws in discussion.

Posts: 8473 | Registered: Apr 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
TomDavidson
Member
Member # 124

 - posted      Profile for TomDavidson   Email TomDavidson         Edit/Delete Post 
quote:

He pointed to Christianity, which vastly overemphasizes the merciful compassion side, and to Islam, which vastly overemphasizes the strict justice side, and then noted how the imbalances on each side have led both of them to commit the most horrible things throughout their history. Burning people alive during the Inquisition for the sake of compassion (saving folks from hellfire, dontcha know), and slaughtering everyone who stood in their way because Allah wills it so.

You know, starLisa, more monstrous than either of those two approaches is the dark possibility I hear in almost every post you make about religion: that, if Jewish law were in force, you would go about grimly and seriously and regretfully slaughtering people because it was your job.
Posts: 37449 | Registered: May 1999  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Lisa
Member
Member # 8384

 - posted      Profile for Lisa   Email Lisa         Edit/Delete Post 
quote:
Originally posted by beverly:
quote:
Burning people alive during the Inquisition for the sake of compassion (saving folks from hellfire, dontcha know), and slaughtering everyone who stood in their way because Allah wills it so.
Unless you believe God really *did* command those things. After all, God commanded Israel to destroy many nations, did He not? All I have to do is believe that God *didn't* command those things and voila! Jews have commited equally gross atrocities.
Not really. I'll give you two reasons why that doesn't follow:
  • The sole evidence that exists for us having killed the Canaanites (after offering peace, but still...) is the same document that says God commanded it. If that document isn't reliable... well, then it isn't reliable across the board.
  • Matthew 7:15-20. We don't have any such thing in our religion. Christianity does, right?

Posts: 12266 | Registered: Jul 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Lisa
Member
Member # 8384

 - posted      Profile for Lisa   Email Lisa         Edit/Delete Post 
quote:
Originally posted by Taalcon:
As you understand them [Wink]

Germs and refrigerators? Lacking any evidence that connects them, I guess I'll stand with my categorical statement. And after all, it was in response to a categorical statement itself.
Posts: 12266 | Registered: Jul 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Lisa
Member
Member # 8384

 - posted      Profile for Lisa   Email Lisa         Edit/Delete Post 
quote:
Originally posted by ketchupqueen:
quote:
Highly unlikely. God doesn't change.
I meant the "understanding" part.
Then yes. <grin>
Posts: 12266 | Registered: Jul 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Lisa
Member
Member # 8384

 - posted      Profile for Lisa   Email Lisa         Edit/Delete Post 
quote:
Originally posted by Teshi:
I think the point kmbboots was attempting to make is that, from his point of view, God's commandments are really aligned with things that have bad consequences. Eating meat that's older than a certain amount of time could have in the past killed a person without the proper preperation, for example, which could have been ascribed as an act of God. The commandment would then hypothetically me "thou shalt not eat meat past the fourth day" or something.

Ah. Just like "thou shalt save thy documents no less than once every five minutes" would have had no application a thousand years ago.

But neither of those commandments exists, right?

quote:
Originally posted by Teshi:
With the invention of refrigerators and an understanding of germs and so forth, this commandment's original intent, according to kmbboots would be lost.

You don't find it a tad dangerous to come up with personal "reasons" for God's commandments that let you out of them?

I mean... God said "Thou shalt not steal". So in theory, I could say that this was commanded because desert conditions were harsh, and stealing anything could easily result in someone dying. But nowadays, in areas where food is plentiful, stealing is actually okay.

Posts: 12266 | Registered: Jul 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Lisa
Member
Member # 8384

 - posted      Profile for Lisa   Email Lisa         Edit/Delete Post 
quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
quote:

He pointed to Christianity, which vastly overemphasizes the merciful compassion side, and to Islam, which vastly overemphasizes the strict justice side, and then noted how the imbalances on each side have led both of them to commit the most horrible things throughout their history. Burning people alive during the Inquisition for the sake of compassion (saving folks from hellfire, dontcha know), and slaughtering everyone who stood in their way because Allah wills it so.

You know, starLisa, more monstrous than either of those two approaches is the dark possibility I hear in almost every post you make about religion: that, if Jewish law were in force, you would go about grimly and seriously and regretfully slaughtering people because it was your job.
But I wouldn't. I'd do everything in my power to avoid bloodshed. But my priority would be for my own. Why would anyone want to kill anyone else? Maybe that's what I don't get.
Posts: 12266 | Registered: Jul 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
kmbboots
Member
Member # 8576

 - posted      Profile for kmbboots   Email kmbboots         Edit/Delete Post 
In my opinion (if that makes you feel better) statements of faith are by their very nature matters of opinion.

What I write is what I have learned or believe.
If you disagree with what I have written, dispute it. Present your own story; give your own information and opinions. I'm happy to discuss them - maybe I'll learn new things.

See below:
Taalcon,

I should have made a distiction between " written " and "authored". The Books of John (and Matthew actually) were traditionally held to have been authored by the Apostles. Some scholarship (higher criticsim) since the 1800s has disputed this. Can we agree that it is somewhat murky, or even better, start a new thread as to keep from completely derailing KarlEd's? The letters and Revelation I was referring to as "the letters, etc., of some of the important early Christians". Does this clear things up?

Posts: 11187 | Registered: Sep 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Altáriël of Dorthonion
Member
Member # 6473

 - posted      Profile for Altáriël of Dorthonion   Email Altáriël of Dorthonion         Edit/Delete Post 
My head starts spinning....
Posts: 3389 | Registered: Apr 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
beverly
Member
Member # 6246

 - posted      Profile for beverly   Email beverly         Edit/Delete Post 
quote:
Not really. I'll give you two reasons why that doesn't follow:

* The sole evidence that exists for us having killed the Canaanites (after offering peace, but still...) is the same document that says God commanded it. If that document isn't reliable... well, then it isn't reliable across the board.
* Matthew 7:15-20. We don't have any such thing in our religion. Christianity does, right?

For point #1: Perhaps you misunderstood me. I am playing devil's advocate and playing the part of the atheist. I am perfectly willing to dismiss all religion for the sake of the hypothetical point.

For point #2: I don't get your point. Are you saying that Christians are given reason to be suspicious of anyone who claims prophetic authority, but Jews are not allowed the same reservation? What does that have to do with what I said?

The fact remains that according to the Bible, Jews slaughtered whole nations of people. How can you call anything else done in the name of religion an atrocity and not that? OT Jews seem every bit as brutal as Muslims to me. I don't think you have a leg to stand on, especially when you say the only reason why Jews don't do it today is because they don't currently have the authority!

Posts: 7050 | Registered: Feb 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
beverly
Member
Member # 6246

 - posted      Profile for beverly   Email beverly         Edit/Delete Post 
quote:
In my opinion (if that makes you feel better) statements of faith are by their very nature matters of opinion.
Then you are OK with atheists stating, as though fact, "There is no God?" I have a problem with it. It seems horribly arrogant coming from either side. Maybe it's just me.
Posts: 7050 | Registered: Feb 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
kmbboots
Member
Member # 8576

 - posted      Profile for kmbboots   Email kmbboots         Edit/Delete Post 
I don't assume anything on a discussion board is a fact. How on earth could such a thing (or its obverse)be stated as a fact?
Posts: 11187 | Registered: Sep 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
beverly
Member
Member # 6246

 - posted      Profile for beverly   Email beverly         Edit/Delete Post 
quote:
I don't assume anything on a discussion board is a fact.
My point is whether or not it is stated as a fact, not whether or not it is.

There is a world of difference, IMO, between saying, "There is no God," and "I believe there is no God."

Posts: 7050 | Registered: Feb 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
IanO
Member
Member # 186

 - posted      Profile for IanO   Email IanO         Edit/Delete Post 
I wasn't trying to argue, kmbboots. And I appreciate your reasonableness. As I said, we've had people show up that were truly unaware that the issue was anything but settled. And when it was pointed out to them, they blustered and insulted and backed up until they either left, or learned humility and to respect the other side. I apologize that I even seemed to lump you into that category. And if you'd like to discuss the issue, I'd be happy to, if there's other interest, too. I don't want to derail the thread.

starLisa: If I, as a murderer who felt my murders were justified because God told me to do them, recorded my dealings with 'god' and detailed and justified my actions, other people would not be wrong to reject the possibility that my actions where divinely motivated without rejecting that I had actually done those things.

Thus, as Beverly (and now I) have played devil's advocate (because I, and she, AFAIK, don't actually believe this), people can reject the thought that the Jews were commanded by God to exterminate the Canaanites while accepting that they actually had done so in history. It's not an all or nothing proposition.

And doing so, people then can lump Judaism with Islam and Christendom (and numerous other religions) as having perpetrated atrocities in the name of God. Judaism is, in their eyes, no better then the others.

Posts: 1346 | Registered: Jun 1999  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
KarlEd
Member
Member # 571

 - posted      Profile for KarlEd   Email KarlEd         Edit/Delete Post 
I should just stick to fluff for a few days, I think.

Most of the responses so far have really glossed over my specific examples. starLisa seems most to have read my initial post most carefully (which I appreciate) but still I guess I wasn't clear enough to get my main point across. For example:

quote:
Well, yes and no. I mean, the Revelation at Sinai was long after the time of Adam, right?
My point is, if the Revelation at Sinai was really how God wanted his people to behave, why didn't he give this information to Adam? Why was it not something required of everyone from Adam to Moses? Why isn't it fully required of all of us today. starLisa will presumably counter this with "We should be following it today" or at least "We Jews should be following it today". OK. That's a valid answer, I guess, though I personally am glad there is no one in a position of power to enforce that law over me. But the vast majority of Christians also believe that God gave that law, but that it doesn't apply today, for the most part. Maybe I'm seeking the Christian answer rather than the Orthodox Jewish answer. (Not to discount the validity of your answer starLisa.)

quote:
The problem I have with the "fulfillment" idea is that nothing was fulfilled for the homosexual that got stoned. Christ's sacrifice did nothing to change the mortal consequence of his sin. (i.e. it didn't undo the stoning).
What I mean by this is that the whole grand plan of Law and then Fulfillment doesn't ring true to me if you believe that God's goal is individual Salvation (as most Christians seem to) and that he is "unchanging". I can only presume that God wants as much the salvation of individuals today as he did then. In the science thread a couple of people sidestepped the possibility of conflicts between science and religion with the idea that scientific unknowns weren't that important because they didn't really have any bearing on one's eternal salvation. This sidestepping doesn't work so well when it is in regard to religion today and religion yesterday. If homosexuality is a sin punishable by death at one time in religious history, why isn't it always so? You might argue that the biblical Jew who was stoned for homosexual activity was breaking a covenant he had made. A covenant that I am not under obligation to (for instance). However, why would I not be under the obligation? Presumably you believe God gave the commandment to the Jews. Why not to the Christians as well? Or any other group to whom God speaks? Does he only speak to an incredible minority of his children to the neglect of all others, or does he give strikingly different commandments to different groups of people throughout history and time? If the latter, how is that not evidence of a changeable nature?

Anyway, I think the answer is going to be something like "You just have to have faith that it is so".

Like I said, I should probably stick to fluff for the next few days. [Wink]

Posts: 6394 | Registered: Dec 1999  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
kmbboots
Member
Member # 8576

 - posted      Profile for kmbboots   Email kmbboots         Edit/Delete Post 
Beverly,

I understand your concern with tone. Especially after reading some of the other posts here. I hate sprinkling my posts with "in my opinion"s (mostly because I think it is poor writing), so please take big picture unprovables (the existance of God, for example) as matters of faith and a starting point for discussion, and smaller picture informational statements ("The Council of Rome in 382 settled the canon") as...well even there I hate to say fact as I could be mistaken...but at least as something where I have some actual information.

If there is a question as to which I mean I will try to clarify.

Better?

Posts: 11187 | Registered: Sep 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
KarlEd
Member
Member # 571

 - posted      Profile for KarlEd   Email KarlEd         Edit/Delete Post 
IanO, thanks for that last post. I wanted to discuss many other things stated, but I only have time to pick and choose. You stated my position perfectly (except that for me it isn't "devil's advocate").
Posts: 6394 | Registered: Dec 1999  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
kmbboots
Member
Member # 8576

 - posted      Profile for kmbboots   Email kmbboots         Edit/Delete Post 
KarlEd

From my perspective as a Christian I believe that the conflict you are questoning comes from taking the Bible as literal. I don't believe that there is one "Christian answer" to your question. I would question that "the vast majority" of Christians would be in complete agreement on any of this including what commandments God gave to whom.

I personally am pretty settled on the "love thy neighbor" one. But that is a matter of faith.

Posts: 11187 | Registered: Sep 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
beverly
Member
Member # 6246

 - posted      Profile for beverly   Email beverly         Edit/Delete Post 
KarlEd, I'm sorry for not giving a more comprehensive response. I will try to give some response to your recent comments.

quote:
My point is, if the Revelation at Sinai was really how God wanted his people to behave, why didn't he give this information to Adam? Why was it not something required of everyone from Adam to Moses?
One possibility: Moses was simply restoring laws that were already in place. It is not beyond reason that during their period of slavery, Israel may have lost many of the practices that were once central to their society and religion.

Certainly Mormonism specifically believes that Adam practiced the law of sacrifice as well as baptism and all other ordinances later "lost".

Another possibility put forth at least in Mormonism: Moses was instructed to give the Israelites the higher law: the law of the gospel. But when he came down the mountain the first time and found them reverting to other-god worship, they had proven themselves "unworthy" or "unready" to follow such a law. He then returned to the mountain to receive the "lesser law", the Law of Moses.

Mormons are not unfamiliar with the idea of being required to live laws at some times and not others. Polygamy and Consecration are two that readily come to mind. Circumstances and the preparedness of the people are cited as the two foremost reasons--certainly not the changeableness of God, of course.

But you should know the Mormon perspective inside and out. [Wink] Perhaps you are interested in the non-Mormon Christian view?

quote:
The problem I have with the "fulfillment" idea is that nothing was fulfilled for the homosexual that got stoned.
Let me see if I understand: No, but what if you believe in repentance after death? And what if for this people at this time having such a harsh punishment was the most effective way of keeping others from doing the same? Perhaps for reasons we don't fully understand, it was more important at that time that people not do these things, whereas now it is in people's best interest to have the freedom to choose and bear that responsibility. After all, we are far more educated and taught to think today than humans have probably been in any other age. We may be far better prepared to be "agents unto ourselves" in some matters whereas before it was more important that the whole not be disobeying.

Maybe this is the eventual point that God meant us to reach when we were mature enough as a people? After all, the higher law described by Christ has far more to do with internal motivations than outward actions. The Law of Moses didn't touch on internal motivations nearly so much (the first of the 10 commandments arguably does.) Take, for example the difference between the old law: "do not commit adultery" and the new law "do not look upon a woman (man) with lust". The second is concerned with committing adultery in your heart (and one of the reasons I believe pornography is sinful.)

Just throwing out ideas. I don't necessarily embrace them. [Smile]

quote:
However, why would I not be under the obligation?
Just because the law of my church doesn't call for the stoning of those who engage in same-sex intimacy doesn't mean it isn't still considered sinful. The earthly consequences are different, but I don't see why that is a problem for an unchanging God who deals with different cultures differently according to their specific needs.

On the other hand, while my church has allowed polygamy at times, that does not mean that my husband can take another wife right now with the approval of the church. In fact, he would be excommunicated for it. And yet, the church does not denounce past polygamy practiced in the church as sinful or wrong. In fact, church may allow polygamy in the future. If Mormons can resolve this as the behavior of an unchanging God in the face of changing society and needs, the other issues aren't so problematic--for us. [Wink]

There is vast inequality as to what God requires of different people, or so it seems to me. I am not required to cross the plains with a handcart. I am not required to sacrifice my child--even if I didn't have to go through with it. I am not required to allow my husband to take another wife (at this point in time). I am not allowed to drink wine (at this point in time). I do have faith that God treats his children fairly, even if He treats us differently. That means a lot of the balancing may not happen in this life. If there were no afterlife whatsoever, I would have a harder time believing that God treats His children fairly.

quote:
Presumably you believe God gave the commandment to the Jews. Why not to the Christians as well? Or any other group to whom God speaks? Does he only speak to an incredible minority of his children to the neglect of all others, or does he give strikingly different commandments to different groups of people throughout history and time? If the latter, how is that not evidence of a changeable nature?
I believe I have already answered this question for homosexuality in particular. But I think that Jews have an interesting answer to this question. They are held to a higher law than Gentiles because they have a mission to fulfill as God's chosen people. It is a responsibility, and they are being an example to others. Others are free to join them in this calling if they so choose. Their presence in the world and their obedience in some way seems to make up for the lack of obedience around them. And they are called upon to suffer in ways that no other people has to suffer.

To me it sounds quite similar to the concept of a Savior. But maybe that's just 'cause I'm a Christian and I'm so biased. [Smile]

_________________________________________________

kmbboots, there are a lot of ways to express that what you are saying is only opinion. I do not think it is poor writing, in fact, I think it is poor writing to state beliefs as though they are facts. Not just in religious matters, but on any matter--like the recent discussion that touched on global warming. If you say, "Global warming is not caused by fossil fuels," you are stating it as though it were fact and you are going to get called on it here.

I understand that I can't make you change the way you write, but just understand that if you consistantly state your beliefs as fact on Hatrack, you will get called on it time and time again. It's just part of the culture here, and rightfully so, I think. You may find it annoying enough after awhile that you decide to alter your approach.

For now, I will just agree to disagree with you. [Smile]

Posts: 7050 | Registered: Feb 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
camus
Member
Member # 8052

 - posted      Profile for camus   Email camus         Edit/Delete Post 
quote:
My point is, if the Revelation at Sinai was really how God wanted his people to behave, why didn't he give this information to Adam? Why was it not something required of everyone from Adam to Moses? Why isn't it fully required of all of us today.
Well, Adam was created perfect, so it's possible that he didn't need to have the law given to him since he would have been created with a perfect conscience, thus a perfect understanding of God's will. Perhaps this intuitive perception of God's will was gradually lost over time. By the time Moses was alive, it may have been necessary for God to give a more definitive description of his laws to replace an imperfect, or flawed, conscience.

God may still have the same requirements today, even though they may not be spelled out in the NT. The biblical Jews were born into a covenant relationship with God, thus they were required to live and die by that covenant. People today are not born into that covenant (obviously some people believe otherwise), thus, even though God may require many of the same things, He does not exact the same type of punishment.

And some things just may not be expected of us anymore, possibly due to different situations/environments, or as a concession to our imperfect state.

Posts: 1256 | Registered: May 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
KarlEd
Member
Member # 571

 - posted      Profile for KarlEd   Email KarlEd         Edit/Delete Post 
Well thanks everyone for their responses. I still don't think I've made my actual issue clear, and for me that means I must not have thought it through enough somewhere. I'm apparently not able to articulate it. Once I think it through some more, I may revisit it here if it is still an issue.
Posts: 6394 | Registered: Dec 1999  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
  This topic comprises 4 pages: 1  2  3  4   

   Close Topic   Feature Topic   Move Topic   Delete Topic next oldest topic   next newest topic
 - Printer-friendly view of this topic
Hop To:


Contact Us | Hatrack River Home Page

Copyright © 2008 Hatrack River Enterprises Inc. All rights reserved.
Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.


Powered by Infopop Corporation
UBB.classic™ 6.7.2