This seems like a strange question when you consider the Christian position that this life is not all there is, but rather is preparation, training and selection for a future to come. If you understand this, then it should be obvious that God is going to allow suffering, including bad things happening to good people.
God doesn’t want a universe of robots. He wants humans who have the free will to be His partners in creation. This means that humans must be free to do the wrong thing, which will bring suffering on them and in the short term on others. People need to be trained and selected, and as with other training and selection (professional athletes, special forces soldiers etc.) this is bound to involve some element of suffering. Worthy projects necessary for the future state of the universe need to be completed, which may cause short term suffering. But what about good people who die young? Perhaps their preparation on earth was complete and they graduated to the next stage early. Perhaps this life is not the sum total of their earthly incarnation and they are here to help as part of training and preparing others.
I would say yes. The two objections generally given are that December 25th isn’t really the date Jesus was born and that Christmas is derived from pagan rituals. To address these:
It is probably not possible to know the actual date of the birth of Jesus at this time. If you believe the Book of Luke it probably occurred sometime in March. However, there was an eastern tradition that Jesus was conceived and died on the same calendar day, and if you work that out it puts the date around Christmas time. In any case, given we are not sure of the date, why not just pick a convenient date and celebrate it then, as we do with other holidays?
Regarding the objection that Christmas is identified with pagan festivals, I would disagree with the implication that European paganism is necessarily evil. You could see European Paganism as being a necessary precursor to Christianity , with Christianity always having been destined to be a European centered religion. This explains why European pagans were very easily convertible. Moreover, many of the particular traditions associated with the pagan festivals, such as gathering with family and community, are positive.
The evidence for the life and crucifixion of Jesus is held to be conclusive by most historians. The evidence for His resurrection is as follows:
Numerous eyewitness testimonies, acting seemingly against their own best interests in identifying themselves with a condemned criminal and a persecuted sect.
The reaction to the witnesses. Instead of the following of Jesus fading away after his death, as happened to the following of other charismatic prophets, there were thousands of new converts who made major life changes such as worshipping on Sunday rather than Saturday.
As with the Gospels generally, textual analysis of the passages around resurrection shows they read more like eyewitness accounts than fiction.
If we used the same evidence to demonstrate some everyday occurrence, say that Jesus visited some city on a given date, most people would conclude that on the balance of probability that that did indeed occur. Does it follow that we should believe in miraculous occurrences such as the resurrection based on the same criteria or should they be subject to a different standard? That is a difficult philosophical question.
The usual explanations don’t make sense. In terms of judicial punishment, it doesn’t make sense for someone to be punished for the shortcomings of others. In terms of paying a debt, if Jesus was an incarnation of God, he would merely be paying a debt to himself.
A better explanation might be that, unlike almost all the people prior to Noah’s flood who simply needed to be wiped out, some of the subsequent population was salvageable. To bring about their salvation, God’s incarnation as Jesus and subsequent death was necessary for a couple of reasons.
The story of Jesus’ existence as a human embodiment of God, publicly noteworthy death and subsequent resurrection was needed for Christianity to spread.
In order to redeem ourselves, we need to follow God’s example. For certain human experiences, there is no parallel with God. Therefore, if order to provide an example it was necessary for God to have a human experience.
If you have a local church to go to that hasn’t succumbed to the scourge of liberalism or some other heresy or hasn’t otherwise gone off the rails, then you are extremely lucky. If not, you might like to start or join a home church. Most of us are going to need home churches to work out how to lead a righteous life, gain mutual support in doing so, and in this atomised world just to have a positive social network.
A home church could consist of a few people who ideally meet in person, or if this is not possible over the Internet. The convenor of the church would ideally be a generally educated man with some knowledge of Christian issues. Services could follow the New Testament instructions.
According to the books of Acts and Corinthians, church is for preaching, teaching, praying and eating together. A service might begin with a prayer of some sort, the convenor could expound on a historical and/or religious topic and relate it to everyday life, there could be discussion on doctrinal matters, a video on a religious topic could be watched and discussed and a meal could be eaten. You could fit some hymn singing in somewhere if that is your thing.
This could be a springboard into making positive connections in life outside church or perhaps some sort of Internet ministry.
This is a small digression, but it does have a connection to Christianity. A while back I was researching family history and it turns out one of my great grandfathers fought in the Sepoy Rebellion (aka Indian Mutiny), on the British side of course. His name was William Thompson. He was in Colonel Havelock’s Brigade.
Among other actions, William was apparently at the retaking of Cawnpore, a town in northern India that had been the scene of a massacre of European civilians. Because of this massacre, William and his comrades felt that merely killing the captured combatants wouldn’t suffice. Hence they first forced them to clean the scene of where the Europeans had been killed with their tongues. Then they rammed large quantities of beef and pork down the throats of the Hindu and Moslem captives respectively. Then they sewed them up in pig skins and hanged them. Then they buried the Hindus and cremated the Muslims – i.e. the opposite of what their religions required.
What can we take from this? Clearly the Sepoy Rebellion was, like many wars, a Holy War. This explains some of the not terribly nice behaviour on both sides and I would argue also explains why we (“we” as in Christians and in my case Anglo-Celtic people) won so quickly. We used to win wars because we had God on our side. If we want to win again we are going to have to get him back.
There are several unique difficulties in proving the existence of God to the satisfaction of modern people, in addition to the usual difficulties we face when trying to prove facts about things we are separate from in time or space and so can’t subject to direct analysis.
Unlike much of what people believe, they will not believe in the existence of God based on some the word of authority. Modern elites find Christianity inconvenient and discourage it, so the usual trust in authority doesn’t extend to Christian authorities.
People will not believe personal accounts. They respond to the untold thousands of accounts of religious experiences, often of a similar nature, by dismissing all these accounts as delusional.
People will not believe their own senses. If they witness events they deem “supernatural” they will assume they are hallucinating. Seeing is not in fact believing.
It is not possible to provide historical evidence of miraculous events. Historical evidence works by showing that a certain version of events is the most probable, but miraculous events are by definition among the least probable.
So where do we go from here? More about that in later posts.
The short answer is “no” for the following reasons:
Part of the duties of a priest is to represent God to the congregation. The Christian God is a masculine God who uses masculine iconography. It therefore does not make sense for a female to try to represent this.
Part of the duties of a priest is to be a moral leader to the congregation. Females are biologically incapable of complete moral development. (See Kohlberg’s six stages of moral development).
Females should not be placed in leadership positions over men. The female role is to birth and raise the next generation and for most of history they would have spent most of their lives pregnant or caring for young children or both. Therefore they have been selected to place a high value on themselves and to want to accrue as much resources and influence as possible for as little in return as possible – basically to be selfish parasites. Hence letting them have control over anything is a recipe for disaster.
It is quite simple. If one supports female priests and female leadership, one is not a Christian. In general, the notion that people are interchangeable and their biological roles don’t matter is a curse of the Satanic death cult of liberalism that must be combatted at every turn.
A topic that the Bible isn’t really clear on is the precise relationship between Jesus the man and the creator God. The emperor Constantine’s position on the issue was that people shouldn’t have a position on the issue, but clearly lots of people over the years seemed to think it was critically important. I don’t claim to know the answer, but this is an example of how you might make a best guess based on the information we have.
The Gospels are clear on the issue that Jesus is some kind of divine being rather than just a prophet. The Book of John is fairly explicit that He is some kind of incarnation of God. Even if we were to discount John and go by the Synoptic Gospels, God impregnates Mary somehow but doesn’t come down in human or animal form directly in the manner of Zeus and there is some suggestion that Jesus has some kind of connection to God and pre-existed his conception. Hence the interpretation that Jesus is the literal son of God would appear to not fit the information, so the Arian Heresy really is a heresy.
The best clue we have is the beginning of the book of John, where it says once there was the word and the word was with God and the word was God and the word was made flesh… The word used for “word” was the Greek word logos, which as I understand it means something like mind or plan or blueprint. So we have the always existing God, the always existing Jesus and they have this logos in common.
Perhaps we could use an analogy not available to people in the past – the software/hardware analogy. The logos is like software – the mind of God. With God the Father, this software runs on, depending on who you ask, either the entire Universe or some form of hardware outside the Universe. Jesus consisted of this same logos running on a modified human brain. Thus Jesus was not identical to God in the same way that software running on different hardware might not behave identically, but He was in a sense one and the same with God while at the same time in a sense being a kind of son of God, thus resolving the apparent contradiction.
I don’t know how literally true this is, but that is how you might make a best guess.
In Christianity, what causes you to be “saved”, faith or works? Or to put it another way, what you believe or what you do. Most Protestants would say you are saved by faith in Jesus Christ alone. They seem to think this for historical reasons that don’t really make sense any more.
Paul emphasised faith over works, but this was because his mission was to spread Christianity from ethnic Jews to non-Jews. He figured an emphasis on works would be interpreted as converts having to obey all 600+ Jewish religious laws, including circumcision for males, which he thought would cause consumer resistance. Paul did however try to sneak behavioural standards in through the back door by excluding people with certain habits.
Martin Luther claimed that salvation happened through faith alone. This was because he wanted to reduce the power of the (Catholic) Church, and good works at the time was interpreted largely as doing what the Church said and giving them money.
Modern revivalists wanted to get people losing their religion to come to church, and they went about doing this by allowing people to call themselves Christians without the bothersome requirement of actually acting like Christians. So it became all feel-good stuff with no mention of Hell, no need for struggle or sacrifice, no need to change your sinful ways and everything will be fine if you just love Jesus.
This is all understandable from a historical perspective, but doesn’t make sense for saving your soul, much less for structuring an orderly society or getting people to work together for desirable goals outside of themselves. So what will cause you to be passed forward into the hereafter essentially whole rather than becoming the spiritual equivalent of mulch or being cast into the lake of fire, as it might be? I would suggest it is neither faith nor works but who you are – the information contained in what you call yourself and the types of traits you have developed. Of course becoming the right sort of person will require both faith and works.