Two classes of Christians after all?

by Narkissos 36 Replies latest jw friends

  • LittleToe


    So, the requirements for salvation are different depending on what each person is called to, but that's okay because the fulfillment of those requirements is through divine providence anyway. Is that a fair description?

    If you take it as far as to say that everything is a divinely providential event including the "gift" of life, yes. However the key is still supposed to be Christ:


    Community responsibility at it's highest level. Am I my brother's keeper? The answer would appear to be "yes".

    However, in defense of us mere mortals, by that stroke Jesus failed too - thus the argument for universalism potentially goes out the window

  • Narkissos

    @ Mark...


    However, in defense of us mere mortals, by that stroke Jesus failed too - thus the argument for universalism potentially goes out the window

    ... and immediately comes back through the wide open door, if you take your first sentence seriously as it deserves...

    Should I quote Colossians 1:24 again?

    Or, for a change:

    "Jesus will be in agony even to the end of the world. We must not sleep during that time." (Blaise Pascal)

    I am usually against reducing religion to morality, but seriously pondering over moral issues is not devoid of spiritual value, so:

    Do we know how much good results from the most horrendous crimes? How many people they save? How many crimes are prepared by the most generous and selfless actions?

    How many of the last 60 years of peace in Europe do we owe to the horror of Nazism? What did Nazism itself owe to the previous "good" of the world -- democratic, pacifist, humanist idealism for instance?

    Nothing good or bad escapes from the endless flow of causes and consequences. We cannot ban any moment of human history out of human history. The idea of some god sorting it all out in the end may sound attractive sometimes; most of the times though it sounds like a very poor joke.

    What appeals more to me now is the mysterious, nonsensical perhaps, sense of "solidarity". A vicariousness without a teleology. We are related, connected, the good, the bad and the ugly, the happy and the desperate. Nobody lives or dies to himself alone. And yes, this is bound to be universalistic.

    When I began this topic I was thinking that the Johannine writings were apparently free from this kind of dichotomous / vicarious thinking, and yet this is the place where the notion of vicariousness finds its most scandalous expression:

    But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, "You know nothing at all! You do not understand that it is better for you to have one man die for the people than to have the whole nation destroyed." He did not say this on his own, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus was about to die for the nation, and not for the nation only, but to gather into one the dispersed children of God. So from that day on they planned to put him to death.
  • LittleToe

    Didier:I'm afraid that you'll have to explain to me why you think that Col.1:24 supports the idea of universalism.

    I don't see how either it or John 11:49-53 extend beyond the "Elect" body of Christ.

    When the Christ is quoted as saying "I have other sheep not of this fold" in John 10, did this fling the doors of the fold open to all? If so, why the context of thief, hirling and wolf?

    If we are to take universalism to it's ultimate extent, why are Judas and Satan spoken of as lost?

  • Narkissos

    Ross, you didn't get my point.

    Colossians 1:24 does not support universalism at all, but the reality of the proposition which you brought up as absurdum to dismiss universalism. that to some extent the individual Jesus failed; that his individual, human, historical suffering did not exhaust the eternal vicarious suffering mystery. Protestantism, I guess, will always have a hard time to get around this text (among others).

    Otherwise, I perfectly agree that universalism is beyond the scope of the NT in general, although it somewhat appears, here and there, beyond the usual "church" concern, as a possible horizon. This I feel is the case for Paulinism and Johannism in Romans 11:32 and John 17:21,23; 1 John 2:2 for instance. Of course such perspective is inconsistent with other Pauline and Johannine statements, but it is there anyway.

    The fact that universalism has ever been in the back of many Christian minds, from Origen to Karl Barth or Hans K√ľng, suffices to show that one can hardly dispense with such a horizon. On the other hand the apories of dualistic judgement, as I tried to point them out (namely, that you can never isolate individual responsibility or "sin"), remain. No reply to that?

  • LittleToe

    Sorry, my mind went down the wrong track

    Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body's sake, which is the church:

    I read that as Paul's boast that he was expending himself on behalf of the church and specifically the Colossians. That was his calling and providence, to suffer for the Gospel (as was allegedly declared to Ananias shortly after Saul's conversion).

    I agree that Universalism is a likely ne'er-to-be-reached horizon, as is the concept of God being the Author of sin

  • observador

    That's a very interesting discussion, folks. I wish I could add something deep as many of you are able to do.

    However, let me add a little bit from a different perspective: when I left the Organization and started reading lots and lots of info from different people bringing different perspectives - some still believers in the Bible, some no longer, I started noticing something that I think plays a big role in Scripture interpretation: TRANSLATION.

    I mean, if you're fluent in more than one language, you probably agree that sometimes it becomes a real challenge to translate precisely what was meant in the original writing. There are simply too many nuances that can go mistranslated.

    I think this could explain some of the inconsistencies/contradictions we see so often in the gospels and NT writings, examples of which shown by Euphemism above.

    Do an experiment one day: if you're fluent in languages A and D, ask someone to translate a less-than-basic text from A to B; ask someone else to translate from B to C; then, ask still someone else to translate from C to D. Don't allow the translators to communicate with one another. Now, read the D text and tell me what you think.

    Now imagine the same problem as above, but with dead languages and biased translators. You got the picture.

    In one passage, Jesus says "love"; in another, he says "hate". Then you get confused, until an "expert" come along and say "oh, in that second passage the hebrew word is a special case of 'hate' that actually means 'do good'.", and I say "what the heck?"...

    I agree with Euphemism: it's an exercise of futility to try to make sense of non-sense.

    Can you imagine how OMG and WTF will be translated 2000 years from now? I can just imagine.


  • LittleToe

    Some great observations

    Opinions are like a$$holes. We've all got one and some are allegedly deeper than others

  • Narkissos
    Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body's sake, which is the church:

    Just noticed this (conspicuously Protestant) translation (compare the NRSV in my first post)... the NWT has no exclusivity on disingenuousness and dogmatic bias!

  • kgfreeperson

    I've just finished Bart Ehrman's _Misquoting Jesus_ "The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why" which is fascinating and very readable. Of course, knowing very little about the bible or its history, I accept everything he says as truth. So I'm interested if any of you have read it and your assessment of his arguments.

  • jaffacake

    Happy New Year to Narkissos, Ross et al.

    Nark's opening post makes a lot of sense, and feels right from my own reading of the NT. Is may be just me but the more I analyse scriptures and compare texts, the less clear the meaning becomes. Is it because the Bible, that is for believers, only has meaning when considered as a whole rather than inspected under a microscope?

    What is clear to me, a Christian, is that the Bible teaches us that it is not verbally inerrant - a modern idea. Some of its authors include false statements of belief (in their literal sense) eg Paul at first thought that Christ would return in his lifetme. The Bible also makes it clear that the apostles continually misinterpreted the teachings of Jesus. For me however this does not diminish its importance. On the contrary, insistence on such a narrow definition of revelation and inspiration would seek to diminish God.

    Something in Narkissos's post reminded me that if the Bible has validity, its true meaning cannot be found in isolated texts. The Bible teaches that our understanding of divine revelation is very limited. It must require a personal search of self discovery, including an open mind to the perspectives of others.

    Yes there do seem to be echoes of 'two classes' but not in the heavenly/earthly or FDS/other sheep sense taught by JWs. Of course we can all then find another text that might imply the opposite, but that applies to any scriptures - hence all the disagreement among religions. Personally I have to take a step back and seek to gain a sense of the overall messages within, at a more intuitive level. Since I threw away my old microscope I have seen glimpses of the wood among all those trees.

    Stop his drink I hear you say

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