Take a look over my shoulder

by Doug Mason 20 Replies latest watchtower bible

  • Doug Mason
    Doug Mason


    I believe there is power in doubting, questioning.

    I will want the reader to look objectively at the evidence that is available and to question themselves.

    What does salvation mean to them? Is it a myth? Why should I accept these opinions? Do I want to live forever and ever? Which version of salvation, is acceptable, if any? Who was responsible for formulating these ideas?

    I spend some time detailing the ceremony involved with Yom Kippur. I did that because it is a foundation of Paul's concepts. In turn, his ideas are built on in later centuries and millennia.

    Am I comfortable that my concepts emanate from Yom Kippur?

    All subsequent generations build on the previous ideas, with each introducing changes, evolutions. Today's ideas are but a stage, neither the original nor any of the past's subsequent stages, nor necessarily that of future generations.


  • Perry
    Morality? That's an easy one. Humans created it because it was a good set of rules to make cooperation within the group run smoothly.

    never a jw,

    Your materialistic explanation is intellectually bankrupt and is wrought with ethical problems. Secularists can be moral for sure, just as anyone can. The basic ability and sometimes even the "moral goods" are there too, but that's not the issue.

    Objective morals are those that are positioned outside of yourself or your group. Subjective morals are those that depend on you, your situation, group, culture, preferences etc. Subjective morals change and differ from person to person. A subjective moral system, by its nature is relativistic, dangerous, can change, can become self-contradictory and can lead to anarchy. This is the best a materialistic view of morals can offer.

    I believe Christianity offers more: ....do not lie, do not steal, do not commit adultery, do not bear false witness, etc. These morals don’t change depending on your opinion, situation or group. They are based on God’s character; and since God doesn’t change, these morals don’t either.

    In the event of a socioeconomic meltdown type event, where you notice an armed figure approaching you while on a dark road one night trying to take food to your family; Would you rather the stranger be:

    1. A Christian who lives by - right is right regardless of circumstance and who believes God is watching and will provide as well as judge


    2. A Secularist who sees a "need" or a "benefit" and proceeds to adapt his morals to suit the encounter and the needs of his group?

    Moral positioning effects worldviews too:

    Worldview A: (your statement not mine)

    I find Christians quite annoying. Their arrogance, supported by ignorance and credulity, is the main problem
    Worldview B

    I find you to have worth, dignity and validity based on being made in the image of God. Regardless of your "doings" (which I may not agree with), you are a human "being".

    Morals have consequences in many other unintended ways too.

  • Perry
    I believe there is power in doubting, questioning.

    Doug, I looked at your outline and it looks like a daunting task. I wish you well in your endeavor.

    Jesus said if a person believed on him, he would be saved from death and judgment. He raised people from the dead, predicted his own death and resurrection, and did it. No one was saying in the the 1st century that this did not happen. Not his enemies, no one. It is the evidence of the resurrection that makes Salvation so hard to ignore.

    Looking at your statement above I don't know if you realize that this is a statement of belief.

    You believe in doubting and questioning, Who? Is there room in your worldview for those who don't "believe" as you do and who personally experience power from belief and obedience to God? ....especially on the doctrine of salvation?

    Is your doubting limited to just God, or can you objectively apply that standard to yourself and the sources you wish to interpret?

    You have already stated that a disbelief in Salvation would be a practical outcome of your investigation before you even hardly get started. How can you be sure that your research will not be effected by what YOU deem practical and effect your research and selections accordingly?

    And BTW, how do you know what is practical and logical? What basis do you have for trusting your own logic? If you are a product of a mixture of blind chance and environment, isn't anyone's logic as good as another? Of course not, we have logic and expect it from those we talk to because our Creator is logical, ordered, and practical. You are employing one of HIS attributes (not randomness), one that you couldn't not possible know that you have for a certainty without Him, to try and demolish a key feature of God's wisdom - Salvation.

    This problem of logic is not a problem for the Christian. We expect science, language, information etc., etc, etc. to be logical, ordered, & intelligent because the Source is all those things. I believe that you truly, deep down believe these things too. Otherwise, why not just get a few million letters and put them in a tumbler, start the wheel and wait for your research paper to get done?

  • cofty
    This is the best a materialistic view of morals can offer. - Perry

    Objective morality is only possible by rejecting an ultimate law-giver...

    Godly ethics is an oxymoron. But you are hijacking the thread Perry.

  • Hairtrigger

    I mirror Terry's views here. One of the best threads in much, much a long time.

    This is gonna keep me awake I know.

    Looking forward to the thread growing .

  • Doug Mason
    Doug Mason

    Thanks Perry,

    I will keep your thoughts in my reference material.

    If as you say Jesus said that a person only needed to believe in him, he is not saying "Believe that I am going to be killed and raised from the dead". Correct me if I am wrong, but I think that the synoptists speak of obtaining salvation and eternal life in terms of obedience and good works (sheep-goats, etc.). Do the Gospel writers relate salvation to Jesus' resurrection?

    I read the Josh McDowell material on the resurrection, which I will also store. This does not mean I agree with his views - which he is fully entitled to - but to show me the views of a potential reader.

    It just so happens that in my research I am about to plough through the book, "The Trouble With Resurrection". I am fully aware that it is published by Polebrook Press.

    Regarding the Gospels and resurrection, I note the timing of when each gospel was produced by a community and the marked differences between them in their narration of the resurrection event. Paul was the earliest chronologically. Neither he nor any of the Gospel writers had either seen or heard Jesus, and they wrote decades after the "Jesus-event", relying on oral tradition - not facts.

    I have read many books, I have lived through a period as an intense Christian (giving the occasional sermon from the pulpit), and I can only judge in accordance with living for 76 years. The experience of each of us is unique and we can only judge what is practical in light of that.

    There is no need for a Creator for reason and logic to exist, but if that is your view, I respect your right to hold it.

    Yes, this is a daunting task. I will be briefly touching across the millennia looking objectively at what people were saying, hopefully without making judgments. There will be many distracting paths that I could follow.


  • Perry

    Good questions Doug.

    If as you say Jesus said that a person only needed to believe in him, he is not saying "Believe that I am going to be killed and raised from the dead". Correct me if I am wrong, but I think that the synoptists speak of obtaining salvation and eternal life in terms of obedience and good works (sheep-goats, etc.). Do the Gospel writers relate salvation to Jesus' resurrection?

    Jesus death & resurrection are inseparable. One is the price, the other is the proof. Right from the introduction we see the issue of Salvation. Matt 1:21 states that Mary “will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”

    The Jewish people, with fifteen centuries of history lessons on how to wash away sins ( animal blood), knew that the wages of sin was death. To save a person from their sins was synonymous with saving someone from judgement in their minds.

    The name Jesus is not just spoken but interpreted: it means YHWH saves. That is the proverbial "very definition" of the man Jesus and his purpose. John the Baptist introduced him as "the [sacrificial] lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. He was born for the purpose of sacrificial death.... Born to die a death he didn't deserve to pay a debt he didn't owe.

    In 20:28, he says “the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” This echos Hosea 13: 14 - I WILL RANSOM THEM FROM THE POWER OF THE GRAVE; I WILL REDEEM THEM FROM DEATH

    In John 6 Jesus is clear about the role of belief AND his death.

    said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.... And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day....Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life. I am that bread of life. Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead.... I am the living bread which came down from heaven... and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.

    Clearly Jesus related Salvation to his death and links to the proof of the resurrection

    John 10: 17 - I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.

    You wrote:

    Paul was the earliest chronologically. Neither he nor any of the Gospel writers had either seen or heard Jesus, and they wrote decades after the "Jesus-event", relying on oral tradition - not facts.

    Acts 10:

    even to us, who did eat and drink with him after he rose from the dead.

    Eye-Witness Testimony isn't facts? It is some of the strongest evidence allowed in court.

    There is no need for a Creator for reason and logic to exist

    Perhaps it is more accurate to say that if God doesn't exist, you would have no earthly idea if your reason and logic was reasonable or logical at all. This the ultimate betrayal of materialism.

    For instance, a person may invite you to a picnic next Thursday and say that they "know" that it will be good weather. When you arrive on Thursday, the same person declares, "see I told you that I knew that the weather would be nice today".

    Just because the materialist's logic "worked" on that day, there is no reason to believe that the logic would work on any other given day, time or place, like the weather. Why, because supposedly chance and randomness birthed it. Randomness, like the weather is constantly changing. But this is not how the materialists speaks about his logic.

    Instead , they rely on the biblical model of stable, reliable unchanging logic and practicality, even while claiming randomness to be its author. This is illogical. You expect logic to be the same in China the same as it is in Europe or Antarctica. This is the ultimate tattle-tale of the "unbelievers" logic. Even if you were to find truth or logic, you would not be able to "know" for certain because of the self-imposed idolatry of chance. The most you could say is that it worked on this day or that.

    Christians don't have this problem. We have sound reason to claim that logic should or ought to be the same everywhere, regardless of circumstance (weather) because God is its author.

    Knowledge ultimately suffers the same fate as morals in a materialistic worldview that I described in an earlier post on this thread.

    Hope I didn't step on any toes.

    Anyone up for a picnic next Thursday? I "know" that it won't rain that day.


    My mind is open to Doug's offering here -

    Have enjoyed his contributions down the line -

  • Perry
    Paul was the earliest chronologically. Neither he nor any of the Gospel writers had either seen or heard Jesus, and they wrote decades after the "Jesus-event", relying on oral tradition - not facts.


    There are a couple of manuscripts that pre-date Paul's writings. Notice the large number of writings that are within the lifespans of the eyewitnesses. Where is the back-lash if this was all fake news?

    Year Document

    30-60Passion Narrative
    40-80Lost Sayings Gospel Q
    50-601 Thessalonians
    50-601 Corinthians
    50-602 Corinthians
    50-90Signs Gospel
    50-95Book of Hebrews
    50-120 Didache
    50-140 Gospel of Thomas
    50-140 Oxyrhynchus 1224 Gospel
    50-150Apocalypse of Adam
    50-150Eugnostos the Blessed
    50-200Sophia of Jesus Christ
    65-80Gospel of Mark
    70-100Epistle of James
    70-120Egerton Gospel
    70-160Gospel of Peter
    70-160Secret Mark
    70-200Fayyum Fragment
    70-200Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs
    73-200Mara Bar Serapion
    80-1002 Thessalonians
    80-100Gospel of Matthew
    80-1101 Peter
    80-120Epistle of Barnabas
    80-130Gospel of Luke
    80-130Acts of the Apostles
    80-1401 Clement
    80-150Gospel of the Egyptians
    80-150Gospel of the Hebrews
    80-250Christian Sibyllines
    90-120Gospel of John
    90-1201 John
    90-1202 John
    90-1203 John
    90-120Epistle of Jude
  • Doug Mason
    Doug Mason

    Hi Perry,

    Thanks for your thoughts. I especially appreciate the dates you give for those documents. The date of 65-80 for the earliest Gospel ["Mark" - who was not a disciple] is decades after the Jesus-event. Given that according to tradition Paul died in 64 CE, your list shows which writings are incorrectlly attributed to him. I did not see 2 Peter but since it followed Jude, that would correspond with the generally accepted date of mid to late 2nd century.

    Your dates for the writings of the Johannine community likewise show the lateness in the evolution of their thinking and experience. The Johannine writings reflect the way they (the "beloved disciple") were handled by the mainstream Judaeo-Christian community and their points of difference.

    Acts of the Apostles is so discredited as a reliable source of information that many scholars explicitly state that they will not use it in their deliberations. As your list shows, the earliest iteration was in the mid 80s, with the current version comng from about 125 CE. Many see Luke/Acts as a deliberate response to the efectiveness of Marcion. There were several books of Acts but these are not included in your listing.

    So who did Jesus pay the ransom to? The grave? Death?

    John 6 only required belief in Jesus to have eternal life (cf 1 john 5:10-12). Nothing said about the need for anything more. John 10:17 only says he is going to die and get his life back. It does not state that this was needed for a person's salvation.

    Why does God need people to murder his son before he is able to forgive? Why does Jesus need to plead with God?


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