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JimmyB27
04-14-2010, 01:21 PM
As an aside to the thread about reactions to the return of Jesus, it occurs to me to wonder just what evidence people would require in order to believe a second coming of Christ, or the first coming for any Jews. I'm not familiar with any other Messiahs, but if anyone is of another faith that's expecting such an event, please chip in, I'm interested in all views.
Personally, as a pretty staunch non-believer, I'm going to need some pretty heavy duty miracles going down before I accept any supernatural explanation. Most of the ones from the bible probably wouldn't cut it. I think David Blaine could probably work out a way to make it appear that he'd turned water into wine, for example.
I reckon, though, that even the most fervent believer is unlikely to just believe any old schmuck who claims to be a messiah without at least something to back up their claim.
So what would you need to see to believe them?

semilargeintestine
04-14-2010, 08:36 PM
The Jewish people don't require much. There are many things that the messiah is supposed to do, but it is accepted belief that many of them can be done by anyone. Until recently, it was the standard belief that the person who rebuilt the Holy Temple would be the messiah. Now, many believe that since it has been so long since we've had it, that we are allowed to build it before he comes; however, there is not a single group of Orthodox Jews attempting to do this because of the situation over there (PLEASE do not get into that, because I don't feel like discussing it AGAIN).

So basically, it will be the guy who rebuilds the Temple. The belief/prophecy is also that he will win a huge war against an evil nation, bring all the Jews back to Israel, reinstate Torah law in the land of Israel, bring about world peace, and cause--through all that other stuff--the whole world to realise that Hashem is the One True God. Those are pretty big, specific things which would be impossible for a false messiah to do. The war is probably the worst part, which is why the Talmud is full of statements from people saying they want to the messiah to come but they hope they don't have to witness his coming.

Of course, I'm an atheist, so I don't think any of this will happen, but neither did a large portion of Jews until the destruction of the Second Temple.

ETA: Just to be clear, the messiah in Judaism has no divinity whatsoever. He is simply a man descended from Solomon who simply is picked by God to lead the Jews out of exile. The word Moshiach, which is often translated as messiah, means anointed one and can refer to a priest, a king, or an official--in fact, it is used many, many times in the Bible to refer to such people, including non-Jews. There is nothing divine about it.

Kateness
04-14-2010, 08:40 PM
another atheist here.

What would I require to believe that someone was a god/messiah/word of choice?

Miracles. In laboratory settings. That were repeatable (by this character). Turn water into wine, repeatedly, under conditions where there's no possibility for the guy being a charlatan.

And yeah, I know that the whole point of religion is that it's something that you believe in without evidence. But I'm not going to convert to Christianity, Islam, or Georgeism just because someone says they're right.

But believe me, if lab testing proved that someone was actually capable of performing miracles, I'd join his/her religion posthaste. F'reals

JimmyB27
04-14-2010, 08:59 PM
another atheist here.

What would I require to believe that someone was a god/messiah/word of choice?

Miracles. In laboratory settings. That were repeatable (by this character). Turn water into wine, repeatedly, under conditions where there's no possibility for the guy being a charlatan.

And yeah, I know that the whole point of religion is that it's something that you believe in without evidence. But I'm not going to convert to Christianity, Islam, or Georgeism just because someone says they're right.

But believe me, if lab testing proved that someone was actually capable of performing miracles, I'd join his/her religion posthaste. F'reals
The funny thing is, I still wouldn't. I'd assume he was some ET fucking with us. Remember AC Clarke's laws?

Kateness
04-14-2010, 09:02 PM
okay, fair enough :tongue

Then I'd demand a full DNA analysis.

Honestly, if an alien could turn water into wine , raise people from the dead, and feed whole populations ON DEMAND, I'd be cool with worshiping him :tongue

DeleyanLee
04-14-2010, 09:02 PM
Hmmm...I suppose that means I'd have to be a Christian or a Jew in the first place, wouldn't I?

semilargeintestine
04-14-2010, 09:26 PM
another atheist here.

What would I require to believe that someone was a god/messiah/word of choice?

Miracles. In laboratory settings. That were repeatable (by this character). Turn water into wine, repeatedly, under conditions where there's no possibility for the guy being a charlatan.

And yeah, I know that the whole point of religion is that it's something that you believe in without evidence. But I'm not going to convert to Christianity, Islam, or Georgeism just because someone says they're right.

But believe me, if lab testing proved that someone was actually capable of performing miracles, I'd join his/her religion posthaste. F'reals

For miracles like that, I'd want some sort of controlled testing. Doing all the stuff the Jews require of the messiah would be enough for me though, since they basically involve the entire world--if I believed in that stuff that is.

As far as DNA testing goes, even the NT excludes the J-man from being the messiah through his (conflicting) genealogical record. DNA testing would be nice, but I don't think we'd have anything to compare it to from King Solomon.

Kateness
04-14-2010, 09:29 PM
the DNA testing was for the alien comment :D

semilargeintestine
04-14-2010, 09:35 PM
Oh, I totally missed that post, haha.

Chris P
04-14-2010, 09:47 PM
As a Christian, I have sometimes pondered this. Many people during the last 2000 years have claimed to be a messiah, and intelligent and devout people have followed them. Not all have been led to a Jim Jones/Heaven's Gate/David Koresh doom, but in my belief they got to "the other side" and found out that they were wrong.

The short answer is that I don't know. I would look for consistency between the person's (and not necessarily their followers') words and actions and if following their beliefs benefited others. Following this person would also have to bring me closer to those with different beliefs (rather than closer to a like-minded hive of a paranoid elite). I took a 15-year break from the religion of my upbringing, and decided to remain a Christian after asking myself these very questions, as well as a lot of prayer and reflection. Acceptance of divinity is a much harder question than an acceptance of philosophy. But that's why it is called faith. Knowledge is belief based on answers, faith is belief in spite of questions. It's okay to not know.

JimmyB27
04-15-2010, 05:43 PM
Hmmm...I suppose that means I'd have to be a Christian or a Jew in the first place, wouldn't I?
Nope. Look at the other replies, two to one atheist to Christian. And I only mentioned Christianity and Judaism because they are the only two I know of with Messiah myths.

wrangler
04-15-2010, 05:56 PM
if there was a god and he/she came back, i'm most certain they'd be a hell of a lot smarter than they were the first time around.

in my mind, unless he/she was coming with something which could not be denied, which i'd doubt, because even in the book of revelations there are still going to be those refusing to believe in the "last days", they'd have a hard time convincing most people of anything.

wrangler
04-15-2010, 05:58 PM
as for me though; i'd know.

JimmyB27
04-15-2010, 06:25 PM
if there was a god and he/she came back, i'm most certain they'd be a hell of a lot smarter than they were the first time around.
How can you be smarter than ominiscient?


as for me though; i'd know.
I'm sure you would. But how would you know?

wrangler
04-15-2010, 06:36 PM
I'm sure you would. But how would you know? jim, i apologize that i am unable to clarify my previous statement. i'd just know it.

Don Allen
04-15-2010, 06:50 PM
I sometimes wonder if the whole concept of Jesus or the Messiah may be flawed in thinking that the return would be in the form of a man. Perhaps it would be in the form of a movement, or a natural occurrence designed to accomplish the deeds heralded by the creators return.. From a practicing agnostic,,, of course...

Williebee
04-15-2010, 07:03 PM
I don't know, but my guess is, those with faith in Jesus would believe; some who desire to have faith would be swayed. Those without faith would not be convinced.

Pretty much like now.

Alpha Echo
04-15-2010, 07:08 PM
I don't know, but my guess is, those with faith in Jesus would believe; some who desire to have faith would be swayed. Those without faith would not be convinced.

Pretty much like now.

I think this is true. As the Bible says, if you believe it, not EVERYone will be saved. There will be some who never believe.

kuwisdelu
04-15-2010, 07:17 PM
If someone were all powerful and required some sort of belief to be saved, I'd expect him to make me more predisposed to believe.

If someone claimed to be the Messiah, I'd probably ask him or her what his motivation was for being here.

ChristineR
04-15-2010, 08:02 PM
I don't know, because you'd have to play with definitions. For example, the Bible says Jesus will return in the lifetime of the original twelve disciples, destroy the Roman empire, restore the Jews to Israel, and punish the emperor Nero. He couldn't do any of that, even if He exists and has godly powers.

There's a common belief in the US that first a one-world government will be established in Rome, and that its ruler will be a reincarnation of Nero. That's the theory behind books like The Left Behind series and movies like The Omen. I guess if something like that happened, I'd be looking out for Jesus.

The more conservative interpretation is that the second coming is only spiritual, and has already happened. For this to be true, I'd be looking for my standard proofs of any God or any religion, or really anything supernatural.

Williebee
04-15-2010, 08:16 PM
The next question is which show would he do: Leno, Letterman or Conan?

video clips of the latest miracle, shout out to the homeys, a promise of more after the break, and then the rapture between the beer and the little blue pill commercial.

semilargeintestine
04-16-2010, 07:04 AM
I think this is true. As the Bible says, if you believe it, not EVERYone will be saved. There will be some who never believe.

Actually, the prophecies for the messiah basically state that everyone will acknowledge God and the messiah. Probably the greatest indicator will be that even those staunchly against religion and a messiah will "see the light" so to speak.

benbradley
04-16-2010, 07:25 AM
Hey, if James Randi is convinced, I'll be convinced might investigate.

okay, fair enough :tongue

Then I'd demand a full DNA analysis.

Honestly, if an alien could turn water into wine , raise people from the dead, and feed whole populations ON DEMAND, I'd be cool with worshiping him :tongue
I'm reminded of that Twilight Zone episode "To Serve Man." :)

Priene
04-16-2010, 07:37 AM
I'm with Lou Reed on this:


If you're like me I'm sure a minor miracle will do
A flaming sword or maybe a gold ark floating up the Hudson

AMCrenshaw
04-16-2010, 07:51 AM
The next question is which show would he do: Leno, Letterman or Conan?



This question means to me: whose show do I like better?

Williebee
04-16-2010, 08:00 AM
This question means to me: whose show do I like better?

meh, I don't watch any of them.

Would you be so kind as to elaborate on that? ETA: That is to say, I could read enough into that statement that I know most of it would be wrong.

Ruv Draba
04-16-2010, 08:40 AM
I think that extensive cultural, historical and linguistic knowledge of the period and region would be sufficient evidence that it was someone from that milieu. Supply that, and I think it's sufficient miracle to gain the necessary attention. From there I don't think further authentication is possible. To me the likely case is that many Biblical stories traditionally held sacred would be invalidated, and thereby the faithful would be split.

Beyond that, I don't think humanity needs a messiah, and if we don't need one then I don't think one can fill the role. :D

Ruv Draba
04-16-2010, 09:29 AM
Zoroastrianism has three successive saviours: Hushedar, Hushedarmah and Saoshyant (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saoshyant). The last leads humanity in a final battle against falsehood. I don't know that the world has seen the first two yet, but there are enough Zoroastrians in the world that they might recognise Saoshyant -- he's immaculately conceived, resurrects the dead, perfects their bodies and gets involved in an apocalyptic battle that melts the mountains like metal. He has a sun-like body, never takes nourishment from his mother, lives on vegetables for the first half-century or so of life, then water, then finally only 'spiritual food'.

That would be hard to miss, I imagine. :D

benbradley
04-16-2010, 09:40 AM
I think that extensive cultural, historical and linguistic knowledge of the period and region would be sufficient evidence that it was someone from that milieu. Supply that, and I think it's sufficient miracle to gain the necessary attention. From there I don't think further authentication is possible. To me the likely case is that many Biblical stories traditionally held sacred would be invalidated, and thereby the faithful would be split.
To me that could just as well be an actor who extensively studied the culture, history and language of the time ... better yet have a child raised in a community set in that time (I can see the SCA being a big part of this, though it's even before their 'time'), so he ONLY knows those things of the time period, and truly believes himself to be The Messiah. Hmm, I'm sure it's been done before in various forms, but this could make a novel or a movie...

But presuming He is The Real Thing, I'd love to see Him on Sean Hannity's show on Fox News ("Tonight on my TV show: Jesus Christ. I'm so excited I'm totally giddy, I'm really grateful He agreed to be on. Hope you'll tune in.") just to watch Him tell Hannity where he's wrong. :D

Bartholomew
04-16-2010, 09:46 AM
The real messiah would have so many ways of being able to prove himself; he'd have insight into human nature and the workings of the universe that, by themselves, would seem like magic before any sort of divine touch causing actual magic.

His knowledge would be so vast and on so many different topics that he could convince even the most obscurely-versed skeptic of his divinity.

Also, his cell phone would have the pope's direct line. Proof positive right there.

Ruv Draba
04-16-2010, 09:50 AM
To me that could just as well be an actor who extensively studied the culture, history and language of the time ... I suspect that someone who'd had first-hand experience of the times could produce all manner of linguistic, cultural, historical, craft and political insights that, while surprising, would nevertheless prove correct. It'd be very hard to fake, I think.


But presuming He is The Real ThingThe Real Thing presupposes the legitimacy of the texts, and then we have to work out which interpretation of the texts is legitimate... there's no real standard for such stuff. And there's no guarantee that the texts themselves are authentic or literal (so many of the stories resemble those of the Zoroastrian saviour Saoshyant, for instance). So if it were possible at all, I think we could get someone from the right place and time with the right historical knowledge (miracles optional) but I doubt we could get anything more definitive than that.

As for appearing on talk-shows, I think it would be every bit as challenging for a modern audience to make sense of the thoughts of man who lived 2,000 years ago, as it would for him to try to understand the sense behind some of our questions. :D

JimmyB27
04-16-2010, 01:11 PM
I suspect that someone who'd had first-hand experience of the times could produce all manner of linguistic, cultural, historical, craft and political insights that, while surprising, would nevertheless prove correct. It'd be very hard to fake, I think.
Surely either all of that stuff can be found out, in which case it would be easy to fake, or it can't be found out, in which case it would be very easy to fake, because we'd have no way of verifying it.

Ruv Draba
04-19-2010, 02:11 AM
Surely either all of that stuff can be found out, in which case it would be easy to fake, or it can't be found out, in which case it would be very easy to fake, because we'd have no way of verifying it.History isn't just referencing what happened. It's knowledge discovery, which means we have to look at stuff and ask questions, guess answers and then look at other stuff to see whether the answers still make sense.

So say that there was a carpenter from ancient Nazareth. A carpenter would know the different kind of carpenter's tools and how they worked, what people made and how, what woods they used, where those woods came from, how they protected those woods from pests... that knowledge would be referenceable for the carpenter, while for the historian a lot of it's only inferable. A fraud could reference the same material as an historian, but when it came to the extra detail he'd have to make it up, and it would only be as good as his research. Ask enough questions, and you run off the end of the research... but if the person isn't a fraud, some answers will be surprising and new to historians. Then when they cross-check against other known facts, or when new facts emerge, it'll prove accurate.

semilargeintestine
04-19-2010, 02:50 AM
Surely either all of that stuff can be found out, in which case it would be easy to fake, or it can't be found out, in which case it would be very easy to fake, because we'd have no way of verifying it.

Not quite. A good example is language. Ancient languages can be studied and learned, but someone who did not grow up in that time will never know all the nuances of the language. As such, idioms, slang, grammar particularities unique to that language, etc. will never be known, nor will vague references to historical events that we are as of yet unaware be picked up and understood. You can learn Ancient Hebrew, but you will never be able to speak like an Ancient Israelite because you didn't grow up in that time period.

ChristineR
04-19-2010, 03:28 AM
Not quite. A good example is language. Ancient languages can be studied and learned, but someone who did not grow up in that time will never know all the nuances of the language. As such, idioms, slang, grammar particularities unique to that language, etc. will never be known, nor will vague references to historical events that we are as of yet unaware be picked up and understood. You can learn Ancient Hebrew, but you will never be able to speak like an Ancient Israelite because you didn't grow up in that time period.

I'm not so sure about this--it's circular. If you can know Hebrew as well as any scholar, then you ought to be able to fool the scholars. You might not fool a genuine ancient, but then, there aren't any around to call you on it.

Try a search for Secret Mark--it's a non-canonical gospel quoted in an ancient letter. It only exists in an eighteenth century copy--more accurately, in a single photograph of the supposed copy. It was seen only by one scholar, and appears to have been destroyed or hidden by monks who didn't like it. It's a yarn worthy of a Dan Brown novel.

The language is perfect, both of the letter, and the quote. The handwriting is convincing for a eighteenth century monk scribe. But loads and loads of scholars think it must be a fake because of the circumstances of its discovery, and its naughty content. Those who say its real claim no grad student could forge Greek well enough to fool them. Those who say its fake point to the bizarre circumstances of its discovery, and its salacious subject matter.

Ruv Draba
04-19-2010, 03:37 AM
Try a search for Secret Mark--it's a non-canonical gospel quoted in an ancient letter. It only exists in an eighteenth century copy--more accurately, in a single photograph of the supposed copy. It was seen only by one scholar, and appears to have been destroyed or hidden by monks who didn't like it. It's a yarn worthy of a Dan Brown novel.That sounds like fun, ChristineR... but a document isn't the same as a person. A document is a single story, but a person is a source of many stories. For a person to be legitimate, every story they tell must check out. Not only that, the stories will all connect with each other and with external stories too. So initially, a good charlatan can fool a lot of people but over time well-informed people can usually work it out.

But individual bits of evidence -- apocrypha or piltdown man or whatever -- it's harder to work them out because you can't ask them questions about their own nature. :)

Paul
04-19-2010, 03:44 AM
I don't know, but my guess is, those with faith in Jesus would believe; some who desire to have faith would be swayed. Those without faith would not be convinced.

Pretty much like now.

and back then.

The usual stuff.
"Please , Great One, give me all the answers, so that i'll be so knowledgeable i be bored outta me mind. but happy. but dumb. but happy"

bigb
04-19-2010, 03:46 AM
I would ask him if you could smoke in heaven, if he said yes, then he's the real thing.

Paul
04-19-2010, 03:50 AM
:D to above post

Paul
04-19-2010, 03:52 AM
I've a vague memory of a story on the return of Jesus. Anyone know one?
Actually think it might have been one of those old comics 'weird stories' or something. Some of them were excellent. Got a load of them one day from a dying neighbour (1950/60 editions). remember my mother told me she threw them all out. i try not to think bout that too much...

semilargeintestine
04-19-2010, 04:21 AM
I'm not so sure about this--it's circular. If you can know Hebrew as well as any scholar, then you ought to be able to fool the scholars. You might not fool a genuine ancient, but then, there aren't any around to call you on it.

The problem with your example is that it's a letter, which is not what we're discussing. A person can spend months or years painstakingly making sure that the handwriting, grammar, etc. are all perfect and make sure to only include subjects scholars are aware of so that there is no chance of something looking funny.

A guy being asked questions on the spot and having to perform is just not going to be able to do that. There's no way to be able to do that without someone being able to say, "Hey, that doesn't seem quite right."

semilargeintestine
04-19-2010, 04:22 AM
I would ask him if you could smoke in heaven, if he said yes, then he's the real thing.

Depends on what he says they're smoking.

ChristineR
04-19-2010, 06:08 AM
Ruv and semilarge--point is taken about the difference between a letter and a person, but presumably this person would spend months and months being coached and practiced. Imagine the person doing the best it's possible for a fraud to be. Secret Mark, if it is a forgery, is actually three forgeries--a letter, the gospel itself, and an eighteenth century copy.

Ruv Draba
04-19-2010, 06:57 AM
Imagine the person doing the best it's possible for a fraud to be.Yes, but once you make your announcement all your claims become fixed, but research continues to develop. A fraud freezes himself in the knowledge of the day, and immediately, knowledge itself begins to diverge from that. A genuine claimant's claims are also frozen -- but in the knowledge to which research converges.

This also happens if a claim is not fraudulent but simply false. A great deal of ancient belief (religious and secular) has changed exactly because at the times the claims were made they weren't disprovable, then there were objections but the believers propped up their claims with more argument, then even those props were undermined. It is very hard to hold a false claim against constant research in the longer term. The claims that survive tend to either be provable, or neither provable nor disprovable.

AMCrenshaw
04-19-2010, 07:14 AM
Isn't this kind of like a discussion about reincarnation? We could just as easily be discussing the Dalai Lama! :D

Ruv Draba
04-19-2010, 11:31 AM
Isn't this kind of like a discussion about reincarnation? We could just as easily be discussing the Dalai Lama! :DIndeed... or any prophecy, miracle, or supernatural figure claimed to have appeared in our world. :)

Guffy
08-04-2010, 09:00 PM
In John chapter 6 there is a story about Jesus feeding 5000 with 2 fish and five barley loaves of bread. That would be something to see and it would be very convincing. But it was only the next day that many of those that ate from this meager meal and were satisfied turned away from Jesus and stopped following him. And the reason was because he started saying things they couldn't accept.

As long as we believe the message we'll believe the proof, when don't like the message there is no proof that will satisfy.

DeleyanLee
08-04-2010, 09:15 PM
Nope. Look at the other replies, two to one atheist to Christian. And I only mentioned Christianity and Judaism because they are the only two I know of with Messiah myths.

Totally missed this in the intervening months--sorry.

In my religion, it's up to the gods to prove to you that they're real, provided of course that they care if you think they're real or not. It's not a faith-based religion (it's action-based: you do the rites, you get the blessings), so belief doesn't matter diddle-squat. What that would entail, I don't know, since no god seems to care whether or not I believe in him/her. And I'm good with that.

I was raised Christian, so I know the popular tenets, but honestly never considered the concept of the second coming as anything real. I was taught it was your becoming more Christ-like and bringing his spirit back to Earth than someone coming down from the Heavens or a new child being born.

Ruv Draba
08-05-2010, 01:48 AM
As long as we believe the message we'll believe the proof, when don't like the message there is no proof that will satisfy.We have plenty of examples of "bad news" that people accepted with sufficient proof. Like the link between cigarettes and lung disease, for example. It's true that if we're delivering bad news (i.e. news folk don't want to hear), then the evidence needs to be solid. But it's not true that good evidence fails to persuade, given time and the opportunity to consider it.

The real problem is that people (politicians, evangelists and other folk with ideological agendas) try to peddle bad advice with bad evidence.

Gugland
08-05-2010, 02:42 AM
I think he'd have to do the Bruce Almighty thing - give me a chance to take the omnipotence for a spin. Just for a few minutes - enough for me to fix my credit rating, pad my bank acct a little, a *poof* a mansion, a few exotic cars and maybe a supermodel or two.

Then I'd believe. But I'd probably wouldn't have made the best impression.

Guffy
08-05-2010, 03:25 AM
We have plenty of examples of "bad news" that people accepted with sufficient proof. Like the link between cigarettes and lung disease, for example. It's true that if we're delivering bad news (i.e. news folk don't want to hear), then the evidence needs to be solid. But it's not true that good evidence fails to persuade, given time and the opportunity to consider it.


People may accept the link between cigarettes and lung disease but they don't quit. Accepting the evidence that Jesus is the Messiah is not like accepting the evidence that DNA is arranged in a double helix; whether that is true or not will not change anything in my life. But to accept that Jesus is messiah means I must change the way I live.

Ruv Draba
08-05-2010, 09:53 AM
I could conceive (in improbably remote circumstance) a situation where a person calling himself Joshua ben Joseph could demonstrate miracles consistent with messianic prophecies and a life in biblical Jerusalem... That might lead me to call him the Christian messiah, but it wouldn't necessarily lead me to call myself a Christian. Missing is the moral argument for me to submit to an absolute power just because it's absolute.

JimmyB27
08-05-2010, 11:59 AM
Isn't this kind of like a discussion about reincarnation? We could just as easily be discussing the Dalai Lama! :D
Well, not really. I was thinking more specifically of messiahs, including the first time they show up. Jews, for example, are still waiting for their First Coming, right?


In John chapter 6 there is a story about Jesus feeding 5000 with 2 fish and five barley loaves of bread. That would be something to see and it would be very convincing. But it was only the next day that many of those that ate from this meager meal and were satisfied turned away from Jesus and stopped following him. And the reason was because he started saying things they couldn't accept.

As long as we believe the message we'll believe the proof, when don't like the message there is no proof that will satisfy.
See, even that wouldn't convince me. I can imagine David Blaine pulling off a similair trick.

Bartholomew
08-05-2010, 01:24 PM
Missing is the moral argument for me to submit to an absolute power just because it's absolute.

I don't think it was originally a moral argument. I think that a fear of being instantly slain by a deity (and then later in Christian history, being damned to eternal hell) was a primary motivator for the non-zealous.

That which likes you probably won't turn you into a pillar of salt.

Bartholomew
08-05-2010, 01:30 PM
People may accept the link between cigarettes and lung disease but they don't quit. Accepting the evidence that Jesus is the Messiah is not like accepting the evidence that DNA is arranged in a double helix; whether that is true or not will not change anything in my life. But to accept that Jesus is messiah means I must change the way I live.

That's not really a fair comparison.

I can look into a powerful microscope and see an arrangement of DNA any time I want.

I can't look through a timescope, aim it at ancient Jerusalem, and confirm ancient miracles.

Diana Hignutt
08-05-2010, 03:56 PM
Okay, I'm here to throw my recently obtained messianic hat into the ring here. The very real possibility of me being the prophesied (Book of the Law, Book of Babalon) Thelemic Messiah, a magickal being brought into existence by mad scientist/Thelemic wizard (and newly discovered relative of mine--great uncle, or something like that) Jack Parsons.

See, if your Christian messiah (or other) is like me, they won't know for sure that they are the messiah until they've done something saviory. So, when they do go on Lettermen or The View, it will have already been established that their messiah credentials are valid, to most people. Or, so one would think.

I, personally, wouldn't go around saying, "I'm the Messiah" unless I was pretty damned sure I was. Otherwise, I'd say, "I might be a messiah, but I might not be too." Keeps things clear.

ColoradoGuy
08-05-2010, 05:13 PM
I see. Okay.

Guffy
08-05-2010, 05:25 PM
I can look into a powerful microscope and see an arrangement of DNA any time I want.

I can't look through a timescope, aim it at ancient Jerusalem, and confirm ancient miracles.


but what miracles would you accept as proof of the messiah if they happened in front of you, no tricks no mirrors.

My contention is that if you don't like what he says you wont accept him as savior no matter what miracles he can preform.

Diana Hignutt
08-05-2010, 05:28 PM
but what miracles would you accept as proof of the messiah if they happened in front of you, no tricks no mirrors.

My contention is that if you don't like what he says you wont accept him as savior no matter what miracles he can preform.

What if such a messiah were to save the world from hostile alien invasion? Would that do?

Guffy
08-05-2010, 05:38 PM
When we talk about messiah we are not talking about someone who can cure cancer or stop an alien fleet from landing on earth, we are talking about our God and creator. As creator God has the right to expect his creation to behave the way he designed it to behave. If I built something I would expect it to what I built it to do, if it didn't I would tear it up and start over.

Diana Hignutt
08-05-2010, 06:10 PM
When we talk about messiah we are not talking about someone who can cure cancer or stop an alien fleet from landing on earth, we are talking about our God and creator. .

You are, of course free to use any word anyway you like, however, you don't get to go all "we" in order to universally invalidate other definitions (this being not the Christian sub-forum, but the Comparative Religious sub-forum), for example that's not necessarily how dictionaries define the word:



Mes·si·ah (mhttp://img.tfd.com/hm/GIF/ibreve.gif-shttp://img.tfd.com/hm/GIF/imacr.gifhttp://img.tfd.com/hm/GIF/prime.gifhttp://img.tfd.com/hm/GIF/schwa.gif) n. 1. also Mes·si·as (mhttp://img.tfd.com/hm/GIF/ibreve.gif-shttp://img.tfd.com/hm/GIF/imacr.gifhttp://img.tfd.com/hm/GIF/prime.gifhttp://img.tfd.com/hm/GIF/schwa.gifs) The anticipated savior of the Jews.
2. also Messias Christianity Jesus.
3. messiah One who is anticipated as, regarded as, or professes to be a savior or liberator.

[Middle English Messias, Messie, from Old French Messie, from Late Latin Messhttp://img.tfd.com/hm/GIF/imacr.gifhttp://img.tfd.com/hm/GIF/amacr.gifs, from Greek, from Aramaic mhttp://img.tfd.com/hm/GIF/schwa.gifhttp://img.tfd.com/hm/GIF/scaron.gifihttp://img.tfd.com/hm/GIF/hlowdot.gifhttp://img.tfd.com/hm/GIF/amacr.gif, the anointed one (from mhttp://img.tfd.com/hm/GIF/schwa.gifhttp://img.tfd.com/hm/GIF/scaron.gifahttp://img.tfd.com/hm/GIF/hlowdot.gif, to anoint) or Hebrew mhttp://img.tfd.com/hm/GIF/amacr.gifhttp://img.tfd.com/hm/GIF/scaron.gifîahttp://img.tfd.com/hm/GIF/hlowdot.gif, anointed (from mhttp://img.tfd.com/hm/GIF/amacr.gifhttp://img.tfd.com/hm/GIF/scaron.gifahttp://img.tfd.com/hm/GIF/hlowdot.gif, to anoint); see mhttp://img.tfd.com/hm/GIF/scaron.gifhttp://img.tfd.com/hm/GIF/hlowdot.gif in Semitic roots.]

The American HeritageŪ Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition copyright Đ2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Updated in 2009. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company (http://www.eref-trade.hmco.com/). All rights reserved.
Messiah [mɪˈsaɪə]
n 1. (Non-Christian Religions / Judaism) Judaism the awaited redeemer of the Jews, to be sent by God to free them
2. (Christian Religious Writings / Theology) Jesus Christ, when regarded in this role
3. (Government, Politics & Diplomacy) an exceptional or hoped for liberator of a country or people [from Old French Messie, ultimately from Hebrew māshīach anointed]
Messiahship n


Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged (http://www.thefreedictionary.com/_/misc/HarperCollinsProducts.aspx?English) Đ HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003

So, actually no godhead required for messiahship as it turns out, no matter what your God thinks about it. And, although not as old as Christianity the religion of Thelema (which I do not happen to belong to, btw, but others do and who are you or I to say I'm not their hoped for and expected messiah--I mean Jesus wasn't Christian, either) is every bit as valid a source for inspiration, messiahs, and religious definitions.

ishtar'sgate
08-05-2010, 09:08 PM
I reckon, though, that even the most fervent believer is unlikely to just believe any old schmuck who claims to be a messiah without at least something to back up their claim.
So what would you need to see to believe them?
I'd need to see him descending from the sky in clouds like he said he would and raising people from the dead. I wouldn't believe anyone else.

Mac H.
08-06-2010, 11:37 AM
But why is raising from the dead such a significant thing?

According to Matthew 27: 50-53, on the weekend that Jesus was risen from the dead plenty of other people rose from the dead too!

Being raised from the dead might be pretty impressive the first time it happened - but it was so common around the time of Jesus that dozens of people being raised from the dead wasn't even worth including in the other gospels.

It must have been so common that it didn't rate a mention when Josephus was writing an account of the era - and this is a guy who gave tedious details on what Herod had for breakfast.

Mac

Lhun
08-06-2010, 12:07 PM
The evidence for any historical jesus actually existing is so flimsy in the first place, that i personally would need some serious convincing. A true miracle could do it, wouldn't have to be large scale, but something that's impossible by any non-miraculous means.

Bartholomew
08-06-2010, 12:19 PM
but what miracles would you accept as proof of the messiah if they happened in front of you, no tricks no mirrors.

My contention is that if you don't like what he says you wont accept him as savior no matter what miracles he can preform.

Most of what we've recorded Jesus saying is admirable, at least from my moral point of view. I see nothing wrong with devoting oneself to a higher power, and giving thanks for sacrifices.

An omnipotent, omniscient being should have no trouble convincing me of his version of the truth. I'm not sure why such a being would want to convince me, and I'm not sure why I'd want to be convinced.

I have no idea what you mean by "accept him as savior."

Guffy
08-09-2010, 06:06 PM
You are, of course free to use any word anyway you like, however, you don't get to go all "we" in order to universally invalidate other definitions (this being not the Christian sub-forum, but the Comparative Religious sub-forum), for example that's not necessarily how dictionaries define the word:

Sorry about the "we" I was being lazy with my words. What I meant was, when we consider what Jesus himself said about being the messiah; "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." John 14:6, then that makes believing in him more than just believing that some historical event happened. Believing what Jesus said about himself, the actual definition of messiah not withstanding, requires a response from the believer.

By quoting from John I'm not trying to say that the case is closed. John is just a letter presumably written by an eye witness who was with Jesus during the time of his ministry in Palestine. Fragments of this letter have been found that date back to the first hundred years after the death of Jesus, but its just evidence not proof. And what this thread is about is what would a Jesus type need to do today to convince us we was this messiah not some generic messiah.

My contention is that no matter what he did people would believe in this modern day person only as much as they believed his message. The same as the people that presumably witnessed the first set of miracles.

I'm only making this argument for the arguments sake, not anything else.

Maxx
08-09-2010, 07:14 PM
By quoting from John I'm not trying to say that the case is closed. John is just a letter presumably written by an eye witness who was with Jesus during the time of his ministry in Palestine.

I had the impression that the author of the big John text was offering his story in counterpoint to the earlier texts (such as Matthew, Mark, and Luke). Your impression is that John is a very big letter from an eyewitness? If John was an eyewitness, he must have been very confused or miss-informed about what he was witnessing since he has the Pharisees in postions of power in Jerusalem. Had I been there, I would have at least gotten that part right or might have checked with somebody who might have some idea what was going on before I wrote a very large letter full of rather poorly informed assumptions about local conditions. Where did this guy John come from? Who was he writing this letter to? Certainly not to anyone in Judea or Galilee or Idumea or any place neighboring those provinces. Even in Alexandria or Antioch they would have known who was who in Jerusalem.

Guffy
08-09-2010, 07:57 PM
I don't know where you got your information from. When ever the Romans took over a place they ran the big stuff but always put a local in charge of the day to day stuff. In Jerusalem the most powerful person below the Roman rulers was the Jewish High Priest of Herod's temple. At the time of Jesus, the Romans had replaced the original high priest Annas with Caiaphs his son-in-law. These two men could control who got to go to the temple. They could bar people from the worship if they wanted to. The high priests and the Jewish Sanhedrin where given authority by the Romans to decide most matters up to but not including the death penalty among themselves. The Pharisees controlled the worship within the Jewish synagogues where the Jewish people would gather on the Sabbath. This gave them great power over the people of their communities. It is a lot like the power the priests had in medieval Europe. In fact the small glimpse of social life we see in John and the other eye witness accounts of Jesus have been proved through other historical text including Josephus to be very accurate.

As for who John is, according to the biblical text he was a fisherman, the brother of James the sons of Zebedee, called by Jesus to be an apostle at the beginning of his ministry. In John's first book he describes himself as "the apostle whom Jesus loved". He also wrote three other books contained in the Christian canon. From the text that have been found so far, he is the most quoted writer of the Christian canon by other Christians during the first three centuries after the death of Jesus.

But I am off track again. This thread is not about the historical Jesus but a modern Jesus.

Maxx
08-09-2010, 08:11 PM
I don't know where you got your information from. When ever the Romans took over a place they ran the big stuff but always put a local in charge of the day to day stuff. In Jerusalem the most powerful person below the Roman rulers was the Jewish High Priest of Herod's temple.

What big stuff were the Romans running in Judea in the time around 1 AD? They had left the place the control of a local Idumean clan and not the Pharisees (who after all had been friendly with Pompey the Great).
The Pharisees weren't in charge of anything and had been crucified by the hundreds by the Hasmonean-Idumean clan in charge only a few decades earlier. You mention the Temple as Herod's Temple --something that would have made any Pharisee very angry. It wasn't Herod's Temple to them, it was Jehovah's. Herod was an Idumean and it was the Herodian clan of Idumeans who were in charge when Jesus was around in really, not the Romans or the High Priest or the Pharisees. if John had been there (as our primary source for the period, Josephus, was), he would have known that.

Guffy
08-09-2010, 08:37 PM
the big stuff, taxes, commerce, rioting, protecting Roman citizens, war. Like the priest of Medieval Europe who were not part of the government they could still influence the people. They tried to help the people live up to the Law of Moses. They were in charge of the local synagogues and controlled community worship. Though they were persecuted they were the only Jewish political party to survive the destruction of the temple in 70 AD. I called it Herod's temple only to place at a time in History.

But perhaps we should start a new thread to continue this discussion.

Maxx
08-09-2010, 08:55 PM
the big stuff, taxes, commerce, rioting, protecting Roman citizens, war. Like the priest of Medieval Europe who were not part of the government they could still influence the people. They tried to help the people live up to the Law of Moses. They were in charge of the local synagogues and controlled community worship. Though they were persecuted they were the only Jewish political party to survive the destruction of the temple in 70 AD. I called it Herod's temple only to place at a time in History.

But perhaps we should start a new thread to continue this discussion.

Well, were the pharisees a "political party" or were they "priests"? They absolutely were not priests since that role was reserved for priests of the temple. Were they trying to get people to live up to the Law of Moses? Certainly not in their own minds. In their own minds they were making the law live in day to day life. What a Pharisee might have said he was trying to do was to help the simple people of the land do (enact) Torah, ie live in the way of the law.

Did the Romans control things in and around Judea? No. All the big things you name (except for some taxes) were controlled by the Idumeans. If John had actually been anywhere near Judea in 50 BC - 50 AD he would have known that.

Guffy
08-09-2010, 09:54 PM
But why is raising from the dead such a significant thing?

According to Matthew 27: 50-53, on the weekend that Jesus was risen from the dead plenty of other people rose from the dead too!

Being raised from the dead might be pretty impressive the first time it happened - but it was so common around the time of Jesus that dozens of people being raised from the dead wasn't even worth including in the other gospels.

It must have been so common that it didn't rate a mention when Josephus was writing an account of the era - and this is a guy who gave tedious details on what Herod had for breakfast.

Mac

I'd be pretty impressed by somebody being raised from the dead... if he didn't try to eat my brains.



I have no idea what you mean by "accept him as savior."

this is short hand and I'm not sure I can even explain what it means to me and I certainly wouldn't presume to explain for someone else. But I do think it means more than just believing the facts.

Ruv Draba
08-12-2010, 04:13 AM
I don't think it was originally a moral argument. I think that a fear of being instantly slain by a deity (and then later in Christian history, being damned to eternal hell) was a primary motivator for the non-zealous. But human history challenges that. Many autocrats have held the absolute power to torture and destroy their citizens, and we generally think it a good thing for citizens to resist them.

So as I said, routinely performing miracles might get me to believe in something akin to magic, but wouldn't command my submission or devotion. On the other hand, a decent person with a clear understanding of good, bad and human nature is likely to get a lot of respect and support from me, even without the miracles -- though I still wouldn't call such a person a "messiah".

Ultimately, I think that responsibility for our consciences vests in ourselves, while accountability for our endeavours is owed to our fellow man. So from that perspective, blindly serving a messiah without exercising one's own conscience moment by moment is irresponsible (consider how badly "I was obeying orders" goes down in war-crimes trials).

Diana Hignutt
08-16-2010, 08:53 PM
From John Hogue:

http://deoxy.org/critmass.htm


Name That Messiah!

The Christian Messiah: Second coming of Jesus Christ (http://www.indirect.com/www/thebible/rapture.html).



The Islamic Messiah: (Orthodox Sunnis) Muntazar: The successor to Mohammed who at the 'end of time' will unite the races of the world through understanding.

The Aztec/Mayan Messiah: The return of Quetzalcoatl -- an olive-skinned man with a white beard and followers in red.[ Diana's note: or a gaint flying serpent]

The Sioux Messiah: A man in a red cloak coming from the East.

The Indonesian Messiah: the twelfth-century Indonesian prophet, Djojobojo, foresaw the coming of a great Spiritual King from the West to come after the Dutch and Japanese occupations, and what sounds like the severe end of the rule of Indonesian dictatiors, Sukarno and Suharto.

The Hopi Messiah: Pahana the 'true white brother' from the East will wear a red cap and cloak and bring two helpers holding the sacred symbols: The swastika, the cross and the power symbol of the Sun. He will restore the Indian version of the Dharma.

The Buddhist mainstream Messiah: Maitreya (http://www.hooked.net/hooked/users/aquarian/): Meaning either 'The World Unifier' or simply 'The Friend.' A very human God-Man whom Buddha predicted will be a greater Buddha than himself.

The Mahayana Buddhist Messiah: Amida: A great Christ-like Bodhisattva.

The Japanese Messiah: Several sects of Japanese Buddhism and Shintoism foresee a variant of the Buddhist Maitreya appearing after 8 August 1988 (8/8/88).

The Maori Messiahs: Over a dozen Maori cheiftains in New Zealand from the nineteenth through the early twentieth centuries have laid claim to the title.

The Messiah of Central Asian nomads: The White Burkhan. He will come when the people of the steppes have abandoned their ancient gods (Communist Russia was atheist). He will come to offer them and the entire human race a spiritual rebirth.

The Jewish Messiah: "The" (sic) Messiah. The true messenger of Yahweh, the god of the jews, who will restore them to their status as the Chosen People. Know his time has come when Israel is restored and the temple of Solomon is rebuilt (interest in rebuilding the temple is at an all-time high during the 1990s)

The Hindu Messiah: Kalki or Javada: The ninth and last Avatar of this yuga cycle. His final incarnation will appear from the West.

The Shiite Messiah: The twelfth Imam: The final religious leader of the Shiite sect of Islam. He has never died but will reappear beside Jesus prior to Judgement Day to complete the Holy Qur'an (Koran).

The Sufi Messiah: Khidr, the mysterious guide of the Islamic spiritual underground. He is the Sufi's version of the Shiite twelfth Imam and Muntazar of the Sunnis.

The Zoroastrian Messiah: Saoshyant: Like Zarathustra, he's scheduled to come at the Zoroastrian twelfth millennium (AD 2000) The Eskimo Messiah: the prophets of the Arctic foresee him to be an olive-skinned man with long beard and white hair who comes from the East.

Teinz
10-22-2010, 09:26 PM
A very interesting question.

I think a Messiah would have to save us from sure annihilation in a way we cannot fathom before it happens. And he would have to save all of us, every human being.

dclary
10-22-2010, 11:39 PM
A very interesting question.

I think a Messiah would have to save us from sure annihilation in a way we cannot fathom before it happens. And he would have to save all of us, every human being.


He has done this and more. But he went one step further: To ensure you are freely admitted and not a mere slave to the all-powerful, he gave you the choice. Accept his salvation or not. He will not force it upon anyone.

Rufus Coppertop
10-23-2010, 03:35 AM
He has done this and more. But he went one step further: To ensure you are freely admitted and not a mere slave to the all-powerful, he gave you the choice. Accept his salvation or not. He will not force it upon anyone.

A choice needs to be clearly seen and comprehended by the recipient in order to be truly given.

Allegations about a man who was God and whom you need to believe in otherwise you will burn in hell for eternity because he's giving you the choice to do so or not to do so, do not constitute a choice.

When you already have a perfectly good religion by your own cultural standards, a bloke coming along with a book and informing you that his book says believe or burn will frequently not be seen as an absolute sweetheart offering you a choice, he'll often be seen as a bully making a threat.

Death Wizard
10-23-2010, 05:33 AM
A choice needs to be clearly seen and comprehended by the recipient in order to be truly given.

Allegations about a man who was God and whom you need to believe in otherwise you will burn in hell for eternity because he's giving you the choice to do so or not to do so, do not constitute a choice.

When you already have a perfectly good religion by your own cultural standards, a bloke coming along with a book and informing you that his book says believe or burn will frequently not be seen as an absolute sweetheart offering you a choice, he'll often be seen as a bully making a threat.

Agreed.

Teinz
10-23-2010, 12:26 PM
He has done this and more. But he went one step further: To ensure you are freely admitted and not a mere slave to the all-powerful, he gave you the choice. Accept his salvation or not. He will not force it upon anyone.

I donīt need personal salvation. I donīt think I am a sinner, Iīm a good man. I donīt think God wants anything. So how can I sin, if there is no divine will to sin against? How can I inherit sin, when the original sinner never existed? Why does God have to sacrifice himself on a cross in order to give us a chance of salvation? Why do we have to be punished for an eternity if we decline his offer?

Too many gaping plotholes in this story. Alas, I cannot suspend my disbelief.

A Vulcan would say: "Illogical"

dclary
10-26-2010, 02:50 AM
A choice needs to be clearly seen and comprehended by the recipient in order to be truly given. C.S. Lewis agreed with you on this. He argued in the 7th Narnia book that muslims and other non-christians who lived their lives in accordance with the natural rules of a good, godlike life would be permitted into heaven, because they lived as christians even if they'd never had an opportunity to become actual christians.


Allegations about a man who was God and whom you need to believe in otherwise you will burn in hell for eternity because he's giving you the choice to do so or not to do so, do not constitute a choice.
It's a pretty crappy choice, to be sure, especially if you don't like either of the options. But it's still a choice. We are all going to die... But we can often choose the manner in which we do so -- is this not the same thing? If someone says "would you rather die by the knife or the gun?" responding "I'd rather not die" does not change the fact that you're going to die. You've just chosen to refuse making that choice.



When you already have a perfectly good religion by your own cultural standards, a bloke coming along with a book and informing you that his book says believe or burn will frequently not be seen as an absolute sweetheart offering you a choice, he'll often be seen as a bully making a threat. As I recall, Jesus didn't use threats. He didn't say believe or burn. He said he came to bring life, and that more abundantly. I think he believed the world was already burning, and we'd all just follow that track, unless pointed toward a higher way. It's hard to think of any pacifist as a bully, IMO.

dclary
10-26-2010, 02:59 AM
I donīt need personal salvation. I donīt think I am a sinner, Iīm a good man. I donīt think God wants anything. So how can I sin, if there is no divine will to sin against? How can I inherit sin, when the original sinner never existed? Why does God have to sacrifice himself on a cross in order to give us a chance of salvation? Why do we have to be punished for an eternity if we decline his offer?

Too many gaping plotholes in this story. Alas, I cannot suspend my disbelief.

A Vulcan would say: "Illogical"

The book of Job exists to baffle the logical, and those who believe that man himself can lift his way out of the eternal rat race. The most devout, spiritual, god-fearing man was brought to the point of calling his god out and demanding explanations, for why the world had turned so suddenly against him. God's favorite, a man after God's own heart... even he could not resist falling when allowed to be challenged by the devil's devices.

If the best, most good, kindest people on the planet cannot achieve a higher enlightenment, how much less chance do the rest of us have?

You aren't being punished for declining the offer. You aren't being punished for the sins of another. All "sin" is, is an absence of godly living, living the kind of life God wants. It doesn't matter if you think you've sinned or not. Just as it wouldn't matter if a baseball pitcher thinks he threw a strike or not. An umpire will make that determination.

Jesus didn't come to threaten anyone with the brimstone. He came to save us from the inevitable fate that had already been ordained.

Maybe there are plot holes here. I'd have to say "So?" We are stubborn by our nature. If you are not inclined to listen, then nothing said would change your mind. I know I'm the same way with politics. We all are to some extent.

This is why it *is* a choice. A heart can listen, and choose not to respond. You are already on a path. If you like the path you're on, stay on it, and be true.

dclary
10-26-2010, 03:06 AM
As an aside to the thread about reactions to the return of Jesus, it occurs to me to wonder just what evidence people would require in order to believe a second coming of Christ, or the first coming for any Jews. I'm not familiar with any other Messiahs, but if anyone is of another faith that's expecting such an event, please chip in, I'm interested in all views.
Personally, as a pretty staunch non-believer, I'm going to need some pretty heavy duty miracles going down before I accept any supernatural explanation. Most of the ones from the bible probably wouldn't cut it. I think David Blaine could probably work out a way to make it appear that he'd turned water into wine, for example.
I reckon, though, that even the most fervent believer is unlikely to just believe any old schmuck who claims to be a messiah without at least something to back up their claim.
So what would you need to see to believe them?

There was a short story that appeared in Reader's Digest where God came to the earth and submerged the entire continent of Australia for like a minute. The whole continent dropped, the waters came in, and then it rose back out and receded. Even then, people were unwilling to accept it was God and instead blamed it on meteorological anomalies.

I tend to believe Dr. Manhattan here: the very fact that we are here at all is pretty damned miraculous. It takes a very skilled, subtle hand to hide miracles around us every day.

That said, if Jesus were to come back, I would expect the end-days miracles. An army of invincible angels that cannot be stopped, the splitting of mountains, and peace.

Christ (pun intended), wouldn't instantaneous world peace be enough?

Rufus Coppertop
10-28-2010, 05:59 PM
C.S. Lewis agreed with you on this. He argued in the 7th Narnia book that muslims and other non-christians who lived their lives in accordance with the natural rules of a good, godlike life would be permitted into heaven, because they lived as christians even if they'd never had an opportunity to become actual christians.

If God can permit people to enter heaven because they've lived as Christians, even when they haven't become Christians, so long as they never had the opportunity to become Christians, then making good people who are happy with their religions aware of Christianity is to condemn a large portion of them to hell unnecessarily because a large portion of them won't convert but will remain good people within their own faith.

I swear, if I were ever to become a Christian myself, the last thing I would do when meeting a good person who hasn't heard of Christianity, would be to tell them anything at all about it. I would not participate in the unintended yet utterly predictable condemnation of other people to eternal fire.

Also, if God can judge the worthy from the unworthy among those who never heard of Christianity, why impose such a necessity in the first place? Many Christians seem to believe that the most vile scum will go to heaven as long as they accept Christ as their lord and saviour. An omnipotent god is, by definition, capable of judging all according to their merits. Therefore there is no need for such a god to discriminate against those who have heard of Christianity by imposing it upon them to become Christians or suffer hell.


It's a pretty crappy choice, to be sure, especially if you don't like either of the options. But it's still a choice. It is an alleged choice.

The gun you mention may be a water pistol and the knife a child's toy, yet the one making the threat disguised as a choice actually believes he wields the power of life and death.


As I recall, Jesus didn't use threats. He didn't say believe or burn. He said he came to bring life, and that more abundantly. I think he believed the world was already burning, and we'd all just follow that track, unless pointed toward a higher way. It's hard to think of any pacifist as a bully, IMO.Jesus is reported to have said many things in many more gospels than the four recognized by the Council of Nicaea.

ColoradoGuy
10-28-2010, 06:07 PM
C.S. Lewis agreed with you on this. He argued in the 7th Narnia book that muslims and other non-christians who lived their lives in accordance with the natural rules of a good, godlike life would be permitted into heaven, because they lived as christians even if they'd never had an opportunity to become actual christians.

But Dante didn't, placing the "virtuous pagans" in Limbo, the first circle of Hell. What to do about the issue has vexed Christian theology for centuries.

JimmyB27
10-28-2010, 06:51 PM
I tend to believe Dr. Manhattan here: the very fact that we are here at all is pretty damned miraculous. It takes a very skilled, subtle hand to hide miracles around us every day.
I think that, for a super-being able to control matter at the quantum level and so on, Dr Manhattan had an incredibly poor grasp of statistics.

Ruv Draba
10-29-2010, 12:03 AM
He came to save us from the inevitable fate that had already been ordained....by fellow men, from self-interest, claiming authority to represent the numinous and dictate all the possibilities of existence.

Rufus Coppertop
10-29-2010, 07:42 AM
...by fellow men, from self-interest, claiming authority to represent the numinous and dictate all the possibilities of existence.

People can allege the existence of a particular choice and insist that it is the only choice until their faces turn blue.

The cosmos does not comply with the limitations of human imagination, intellect or experience, nor will it comply with scriptures when scriptures are chosen to enforce a political necessity rather than a description of reality. In fact it won't even comply with a description of reality. Reality comes first and it is up to scriptures to describe that accurately.

Christianity, when not forming part of a totalitarian state machinery, like all religions, has its own beauty and its own spiritual utility. Personally, I have no problem believing it can produce saints and lead to an experience of the numinous, for those practicing a disciplined, contemplative form.

One and only truth though? Self serve soteriorology? Not only do I not believe that. I am, quite literally, unable to believe that.

Ken
10-29-2010, 08:57 AM
... for me to believe that a person was the messiah they would have to perform miracles like our dear Lord Jesus did. It is wrong to ask of such evidence, I know. One should accept the messiah at His word. In this age of charlatans though I verily believe that such a request as this is somewhat necessary and that our Lord Jesus would be understanding and willing to perform such miracles. Let that time come soon, oh Jesus. The world has never been so in need of divine intervention and godly grace. Bless us one and all.

Rufus Coppertop
10-29-2010, 10:28 AM
I really like verses 5 and 6 of Matthew, chapter 6.

Teinz
11-25-2010, 06:02 PM
It is wrong to ask of such evidence, I know. One should accept the messiah at His word.

Why do you think this? This has alway puzzled me.

Smiling Ted
11-25-2010, 11:25 PM
As I recall, Jesus didn't use threats. He didn't say believe or burn. He said he came to bring life, and that more abundantly. I think he believed the world was already burning, and we'd all just follow that track, unless pointed toward a higher way. It's hard to think of any pacifist as a bully, IMO.


Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: NO MAN cometh unto the Father, but by me. John 14:6

But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into HELL; yea, I say unto you, Fear him. Luke, 12:15

And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in HELL. Matthew 10:28

Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels. Matthew 25:41

Maxx
11-26-2010, 04:38 PM
Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: NO MAN cometh unto the Father, but by me. John 14:6

But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into HELL; yea, I say unto you, Fear him. Luke, 12:15

And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in HELL. Matthew 10:28

Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels. Matthew 25:41

That's just wierd. Old Father Oddheart used to say that all he could remember about what Jesus said was, "Lord, preserve us from the Fury of the Northmen."

ColoradoGuy
11-26-2010, 11:35 PM
That's just wierd. Old Father Oddheart used to say that all he could remember about what Jesus said was, "Lord, preserve us from the Fury of the Northmen."

As a half-Norwegian, half-Swede myself, it's my favorite Medieval prayer. It also contained, as I recall, the request to "preserve us from moonlit nights," since it was on those sorts of nights my ancestors would row their long boats up the rivers of Europe, bound for pillage, rape, and assorted other mayhem. My blond, blue-eyed eight-year-old son's chest swells with pride at how his forbears used to crack heads and whatnot. I remind him not on the soccer field.

Maxx
11-26-2010, 11:44 PM
As a half-Norwegian, half-Swede myself, it's my favorite Medieval prayer. It also contained, as I recall, the request to "preserve us from moonlit nights," since it was on those sorts of nights my ancestors would row their long boats up the rivers of Europe, bound for pillage, rape, and assorted other mayhem. My blond, blue-eyed eight-year-old son's chest swells with pride at how his forbears used to crack heads and whatnot. I remind him not on the soccer field.

Oddly enough, the re-enactors are not so sure:

http://www.vikingsna.com/articles/50-from-the-fury-of-the-northmen-o-lord-deliver-us

Maybe old Father Oddheart was a re-eneactor? It's hard to imagine that sad, dilligent, frail, insane, wobbly little old man working on getting clubbed to death in a convincing way. I can imagine his horrible, deranged, squeaky, quavering voice saying, "Thanks for not killing me when you clubbed me to death."

Apparently the heart-felt prayer of the middle ages is a concoction from the early 1960s. None of it ever quite happened the way poor old Father Oddheart imagined it.

Pat~
11-27-2010, 04:03 AM
As an aside to the thread about reactions to the return of Jesus, it occurs to me to wonder just what evidence people would require in order to believe a second coming of Christ, or the first coming for any Jews. I'm not familiar with any other Messiahs, but if anyone is of another faith that's expecting such an event, please chip in, I'm interested in all views.


This thread seems to be meandering into what kind of messiah/savior people here think is needed today, and those ideas seem to vary widely. But keeping things in a historical context for those two main religions you mentioned, I think I’d answer first that at the time of Christ, just as today, many were not looking for any kind of messiah/savior at all. Christianity’s ‘Messiah/Savior’ is, in a sense, all in hindsight—and its first adherents were both Jews and Gentiles who believed that Jesus was who He claimed to be—the Jewish Messiah, the Son of David, the Son of God, King of the Jews (though His Kingdom “is not of this world”). I'll try to take a stab at your question with what I know about the Jewish or Christian Messiah concepts, as I just finished a semester study on these. The study was written by Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum, a man well-versed in both traditions. He was raised orthodox Jew and later became what is known as a "messianic Jew" who believes Christ was/is the Messiah predicted in the Old Testament. He has degrees in Hebrew, Greek, and theology from studies at the American Institute of Holy Land Studies and the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, as well as from the States. He earned his Ph.D. at New York University; his dissertation was the culmination of 13 years of research and was entitled "Israelology: The Missing Link in Systematic Theology." With all that, I'm only just now beginning to tap into the surface of what he knows, but here are a few initial things I picked up this fall studying the “3 Messianic miracles” and “the final Messianic witness” he references.

First off, Dr. F said that sometime prior to the coming of Yeshua (Jesus), the rabbis of old separated miracles into two categories:

1) general miracles - miracles that anyone could perform if empowered by God
2) “messianic” miracles - miracles that only the Messiah would ever be able to do

Yeshua (Jesus) is recorded in scripture as doing both kinds of miracles, but the ones reserved by the rabbis as “messianic” were these 3 in particular:

I. The healing of a Jewish leper
II. The casting out of a “dumb” (mute) demon
III. The healing of a man born blind

An elaboration as to why those were considered “messianic” miracles:

I. The healing of the Jewish leper (Matthew 8; Mark 1-2; Luke 5):

From the time the Mosaic Law was completed there was no record of any Jew who’d ever been healed of leprosy. Miriam (Moses’ sister) was healed, but prior to the completion of the Law. Naaman was healed, but he was a Syrian, a Gentile. So although Leviticus 13-14 records specific, detailed instructions for what the Levitical Priesthood were to do in the case of a reported healing, these instructions were never carried out in that from the time the Law was given no Jew had ever been healed of leprosy. As a consequence, it was taught by the rabbis that only the Messiah Himself would ever be able to heal a Jewish leper.

Three gospels give the account of Jesus’ healing of a Jewish leper, and His sending him to the priesthood in Jerusalem for follow-through on the Levitical commands. Luke, being a doctor, gave the most detailed account (Luke 5:12-16), indicating the man was ‘full of leprosy.’ But the leper recognized Jesus as the Messiah who could, if He willed, take it away--“Lord, if you will, You can make me clean.” Jesus touched the leper, healed him, and told him to not stop to tell anyone, but to go right away to the priest to follow through on Moses’ commands (Luke 5:14).

The priests responded as Moses had commanded; they offered up two birds, and then spent a week investigating the miracle. They determined that yes, he’d been a leper, that he’d been completely healed, and that he’d been healed by a Yeshua of Nazareth. Jesus, meanwhile, had gone to the desert to pray concerning their response. Luke 5:17-26 then records that Jesus continues to heal people in Capernaum and that Jewish leaders from all over Israel are coming there to check Him out. Why? Because this was the first ‘messianic miracle’—the first Jew ever healed of leprosy.

According to Sanhedrin law, if there were ever any messianic signs, the Sanhedrin was to investigate those in two stages: 1) observation, and 2) interrogation. During the observation stage (eg. Luke 5) they were not permitted to ask questions or raise objections. After observing the miracle worker and/or other members of the movement, the leaders were to report back to Jerusalem and reach a verdict on whether this was of significance or not. If not, the case was dropped. But if significant, that would lead to stage 2, the interrogation stage.

While the leaders were observing Yeshua/Jesus in Capernaum, friends of a paralytic let their friend down through a hole in the roof for healing (Mark 2:5-9). Jesus departed from His normal procedure by pronouncing that the paralytic’s “sins were forgiven” (knowing the leaders were observing). Still in the stage of observation, the leaders are recorded as only ‘reasoning in their hearts’ about Jesus’ supposed blasphemy, as only God could forgive sin. Jesus, knowing their thoughts, then asked them, “What is easier…to tell someone ‘your sins are forgiven,’ or to heal them?” He went on to prove that He could say the easier thing by doing the harder thing—and healed the paralytic, who got up, walked, and carried his own mat.

The miracle of healing the Jewish leper, coupled with Jesus’ claim to be able to forgive sin, ensured that this observation stage would proceed to the second, interrogation stage. Between the performance of the healing of the leper, and the second messianic miracle, the Pharisees followed Jesus everywhere, raising questions or objections.

II. The 2nd Messianic miracle: the healing of a ‘dumb’ demon. (Matthew 12 and Mark 3)

In that day, the act of casting out demons didn’t necessarily raise eyebrows. Many of the Pharisees or rabbis had the ability, as empowered by God, to do this. It would be done in a certain ritual, however, which required the exorcist to ask of the demon, “What is your name?” Then he would cast out that demon, by name (and even Jesus used this methodology on occasion, eg. Mark 5). But one kind of demon the Jewish leaders were powerless to cast out—the one who caused the person they inhabited to become mute or dumb. With this kind of demon, there was no way to establish communication with the demon, who used the vocal cords of the one he possessed, nor could the leaders find out the name of the demon. So the rabbis taught that when the Messiah came, He alone would be able to cast out this sort of demon. This was the second ‘messianc miracle’ or sign Jesus gave.

That this was a known sign is evident by the response of the Jewish people in the Matthew passage; in Matt. 12:23 the people’s response to Jesus’ casting out the dumb demon was to immediately say, “Can this be the Son of David?” (the Hebrew expression for “the Messiah”). They knew the specialness of the miracle, but still looked to their leadership to verify the meaning of what they’d seen.

At this point, the leadership had to either agree Jesus was the Messiah, or explain why Jesus was able to perform the very miracle they’d taught that only the Messiah could do. So they responded in v. 24 that Jesus cast out demons by the power of ‘Beelzebub’—the prince of demons. Jesus countered that 1) this logically didn’t make sense (a divided house cannot stand), and 2) that this countered what they knew and believed about exorcism being done by the power of the Spirit of God. This rejection after the 2nd messianic miracle by the Jewish leadership set the pattern of rejection by Israel for the next 2000 years, according to Dr. F. It also was a major turning point in Jesus’ ministry. In Matthew 12:30-37, Jesus declared that ‘this generation’ is guilty of the unpardonable sin (attributing to Satan what has been done by the power of the Holy Spirit) and pronounced judgment on ‘that generation.’ And forty years later, in AD 70, came the destruction of the Temple and the city of Jerusalem.

Following that pronouncement of judgment the Pharisees asked Him for ‘a sign’ (Matt. 12:38-45)—having rejected His first two signs. His answer was that there would be no more signs except one, ‘the sign of Jonah’ (the sign of resurrection—which the Jewish leaders also were to reject).
From this point on, Jesus’ ministry is no longer aimed at presenting signs to a rejecting Israel, but for the training of His followers, which included believing Gentiles as well as believing Jews. He also makes extensive use of teaching in parables when speaking to the masses so that the ‘truth’ would be hidden from those who’d rejected His claims (see Matt. 13:10-14). According to Dr. F, this, too, was a result of that Jewish generation’s committing the unpardonable sin—claiming His power came from Satan rather than God.

III. 3rd messianic miracle – the man born blind (John 9:1-41)

Again, the issue was not the healing of someone who’d simply gone blind; but the healing of someone who’d been born blind—that, according to the Pharisaic teaching would be a messianic sign.

Jesus’ disciples bring to Him a blind man, and ask Him, “Who sinned, this man or his parents, that this man should be born blind?” The second part of that question reflected a principle in Mosaic Law (Exodus 34:6-7) that God ‘visits the sins of the father upon the children, and the children’s children up to the 3rd or 4th generation.’ But the first reflected the Pharisaic Judaism in which they’d been raised. According to that tradition, the fetus at the time of conception in the womb has a ‘bad bent’—“yetzer hara” and also has a ‘good bent’—“yetzer hatov” and these two inclinations struggle from the time of conception. At one point, the bad bent may have won out, causing the fetus to kick his mother in the womb, and for this act of animosity or ‘sin’ he may have been born blind.

Jesus corrected the Pharisaic tradition’s error—that a fetus is capable of sin, and that a birth defect is always the result of sin—with His answer: “Neither did this man sin, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.”

Jesus then went on to spit on the ground, He smears the resulting clay on the blind man’s eyes, and then instructs him to wash in the Pool of Siloam. The blind man is cured, and intense interrogation follows…because the Pharisees had taught that this, too, would be a Messianic miracle. In John 9:13-17 the formerly blind man and his parents are interrogated as to whether he’d been born blind, and the Pharisees are particularly incensed that this miracle was performed on the Sabbath—the day of rest. The people watching ask, “How can a sinner perform such [ie. messianic] signs?”. The man gets excommunicated from the Temple for his answers to the Jewish leaders’ questions, and Jesus finds him. In John 9:35-41, He asks him, “Do you believe in the Son of God?” The healed man asks who that is, that he might believe in him. And Jesus answers, “You have both seen him, and He it is that speaks with you.” And the formerly blind man worships Him.

IV. the final messianic witness

The final sign was not one the Pharisees taught, but that Jesus Himself offered after they rejected His power as coming from God—this was the ‘sign of Jonah.’ Resurrection from the dead. Dr. F refers to the resurrection of Lazarus as being this sign, but I’m not convinced that’s the resurrection Jesus’ comment referred to. I think this particular sign was Jesus’ own resurrection from the dead (witnessed by His disciples and over 500 people before His ascension).

For those who believe in the Messiah, there are also many, many fulfilled (and some yet to be fulfilled) prophecies throughout the Old Testament, though these can be difficult to flesh out—particularly because the Messiah comes not once, but twice, according to OT and NT teaching. And those two comings are for entirely different purposes. So some prophecies are not fulfilled in the first coming (eg. the establishment of an earthly kingdom), and this has caused confusion and interpretive debate down through the centuries. But…this is long enough, so I’ll end it here. ;)

Gehanna
11-27-2010, 05:43 AM
To Pat,

Excellent post! I enjoyed reading it. Thank you for taking the time.

Sincerely,
Gehanna

Pat~
11-27-2010, 06:11 AM
Gehanna, thanks! It was really a fascinating study. (Starting part two in January!)

Smiling Ted
12-01-2010, 08:34 AM
By his own admission, Fruchtenbaum renounced Judaism when he was 13 and has devoted his career to trying to convert Jews to Christianity. His description of what makes the Jewish Messiah is biased, to say the least.

Bottom line-

1. For Jews, the Messiah is a man, not a god or the son of a god. A divine incarnation is a violation of the First Commandment ("Thou shall have no other gods before me") and the Sh'ma ("Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one.")

2. The Messiah will come once only, and he'll get it right the first time. No Second Coming is mentioned.

3. When he comes, he will bring world peace and universal justice, unite Jewry in a free and independent nation in Israel, and cause all humanity to recognize one true God.

Rufus Coppertop
12-01-2010, 06:45 PM
3. When he comes, he will bring world peace and universal justice, unite Jewry in a free and independent nation in Israel, and cause all humanity to recognize one true God.

He'll need backing from someone omnipotent for that one.

How else does he expect to do the equivalent of herding cats?

Ruv Draba
12-01-2010, 10:35 PM
In Zoroastrianism (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zoroastrian), the eschatological messiah is called Saoshyant -- "the one who brings benefit". He turns up not once or twice, but three times (or it could be three different ones), once for each millennium of the last 3,000 years of the world. Each time he's born of a maiden, conceived while his mother bathed in a lake that has miraculously preserved the seed of the prophet Zoroaster (though it doesn't say how the prophet's seed got in the lake in the first place). The first one will be named Hushedar, the second Hushedarmah, and the third Saoshyant, who leads humanity in the final battle against falsehood, which is called Frashokereti.

When born, he won't know nourishment from his mother, and his body will be sun-like. For 57 years he will eat only vegetables, then for the next 30 years he'll drink only water, then for the last 10 years he'll live on "spiritual food".

In the final battle with evil, the evil demons will melt metal in the hills and mountains and the molten metal will flow upon the earth like a river. Your personal salvation will depend on the sum of your thoughts, words and deeds. All mankind, whether living or dead will be required to wade through the river of metal, but for the righteous it will seem like warm milk while the wicked will be burned. (If you're worried about that, it has to be at least 3,000 years away since we haven't seen Hushedar yet.)

Eventually the uncreated God Ahura-Mazda will triumph, and Saoshyant will resurrect the dead and their bodies will be restored to eternal perfection, and their souls will be cleansed and reunited with God. The river of metal will flow down to Hell where it will destroy the evil Adversary Ahriman and the last traces of wickedness in the world. Time will end, and truth and immortality will be everlasting.

This faith has been around since the early 2nd millennium BCE and is thought to have had a strong influence on the Judaeo-Christian messiah-myths. But if you'd like a piece of Frashokereti afterlife, that's too bad. Both your parents need to be Persian for you to be a Zoroastrian, which is perhaps why, after their persecution under Islam, there are now only 200,000 in the world and they're dying out at the rate of about 800 per year. Most Zoroastrians live in India (where they're called Parsis), but there are some 15K-25K living in the US and about 3,500 living in Australia.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/4/4a/Zartosht.jpg
The prophet Zoroaster -- perhaps thinking about Frashokereti

Smiling Ted
12-02-2010, 01:15 AM
He'll need backing from someone omnipotent for that one.

How else does he expect to do the equivalent of herding cats?

Hey, I don't write the stuff; I just quote it.

Rufus Coppertop
12-02-2010, 04:18 AM
The prophet Zoroaster -- perhaps thinking about Frashokereti

Or wondering what the strange glow around his head is and hoping Ahriman hasn't set fire to his turban.

richcapo
01-09-2011, 05:01 AM
Biographical accounts of Jesus' life written at the time he allegedly lived by neutral, third-party authors and depicting him as possessing the magical powers the New Testament claims he possessed might help me believe Jesus once lived, but only if these accounts are accompanied by proof that magic is real.

_Richard

Zanthus
02-01-2011, 06:40 AM
Biographical accounts of Jesus' life written at the time he allegedly lived by neutral, third-party authors and depicting him as possessing the magical powers the New Testament claims he possessed might help me believe Jesus once lived, but only if these accounts are accompanied by proof that magic is real.

_Richard

I dont belive you, it sounds like you are a comited unbliver and would find some way to dispute siad acount
thier is no pont in debateing wiht such pepole

Anacry
06-11-2011, 06:11 AM
Proof of the existence of God?

What about a tree?

And you could pull science on me and say that tree came from a sapling, that grew from a seed, thats made up of molecules.

But you've never seen molecules before, firsthand, how do you know they exist?
You've seen pictures? There are paintings of Jesus.
Scientists say they exist? Christians say God exists.

So why do you believe in molecules, but not God?

Or is it just faith? :)

ColoradoGuy
06-11-2011, 05:41 PM
Proof of the existence of God?

What about a tree?

And you could pull science on me and say that tree came from a sapling, that grew from a seed, thats made up of molecules.

But you've never seen molecules before, firsthand, how do you know they exist?
You've seen pictures? There are paintings of Jesus.
Scientists say they exist? Christians say God exists.

So why do you believe in molecules, but not God?

Or is it just faith? :)

Folks assume that's a sort of "gotcha question" for scientists, but it's not.

I suppose it comes down to what you regard as usable data. There are good data that molecules exist: in contrast, the data for God's existence require a fair amount of question-begging, of assuming the conclusion before one begins.

As a scientist who believes in God, to me the point is that using scientific methods for assessing whether or not to believe in God is applying the wrong tool to the task.