Ex Nihilo

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  1. I agree with this to a point. Where religion in growing, it's growing in the conservative denominations and congregations. However the nonreligious as a community is growing too. Which will only serve to divide us even further culturally. A great clash of worldviews is upon us and the old via media which the liberal religious groups served as is fast disintegrating. It'll soon be a bipolar world with little patience or room for fence sitters
  2. Wait...just how many shebears are being benefitted?are these working single mom shebears with cubs at home? I'll have to get out my abacus and get back to you once I crunch the numbers...
  3. I have a question guys. What drew you the celtic wicca asopposed to Gardner's version, or something else the Saex Wica or Norse wicca.
  4. I've had to do a little research on this for work. The courts, thus far, have rejected any expansion of the sacred use peyote to any other group or apply it to any other drug. And barring some radical shift in the court's reasoning this will remain the case. (caveat: my research is a couple of years old and primarily dealt with it's application to the sacred use of cannabis).
  5. Interesting points Nealocampo. I think you are arguing two issues here: 1) you are saying that Christians are obligated to celebrate the holy days and festivals of the Torah and should abstain from other feasts which developed in the church over time and which replaced older pagan holidays; and 2) you are saying more broadly that Christians, including “gentile” Christians, must follow the Torah along with the obeying Christ under the new covenant. I will start with the second issue. The Torah, made up of 613 laws, is what I and many Christians refer to as the Old Covenant. It was the law given by Moses to the people of Israel. It is invaluable to us and to all people because it convicts us of our sin and shows us our need for a savior. A great debt is owed to God’s chosen people for keeping the law and preserving the seed of David from which Jesus came according to the flesh. But the Law was a means to an end, not the end itself: “The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming—not the realities themselves” (Heb 10:1). And that good thing, that savior, came in the person of Jesus Christ. In the Gospel of St. Matthew, Jesus is recorded as saying “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished” (Mt. 5:17-18). How does he accomplish the fulfillment of the Law? He, the sinless one, gave himself as a sacrifice for us sinners by being crucified. He even drove this point home with his final words before dying: “he said, ‘It is accomplished,’ and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit” (Jn 19:30). How do we know this accomplished the fulfillment of the Mosaic Law? We have it from the highest authority. Christ himself, when he was risen, returned to his disciples and gave them understanding of the scriptures: He said to them, “’These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.’ And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures. Then He said to them, “Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem” (Lk 24:44-47). In its place, Christ instituted a New Covenant. He showed this at the Last Supper: “In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you’” (Lk 22:20). This new covenant is one of grace through faith in the finished work of Christ and not of works of law. And what of the old covenant? Paul, in his letter to the Hebrews, speaks of the effect of Christ’s new covenant: “By calling this covenant ‘new,’ he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and outdated will soon disappear” (Heb 8:13). Sadly, this proved all to true with the destruction of the Temple a few years later. Now, considering that it has been said that nearly half of those 613 laws required both a Tabernacle and a Levitical priesthood to satisfy, I wonder how Torah followers consider themselves fulfilling the requirements of the Law when the temple system ended and the priesthood was replaced with a rabbinate. Alternatively, Christians believe, as taught in Hebrews 7, that a new priesthood and a new law and a new true tabernacle replaced the old: “For when the priesthood is changed, the law must be changed also” (Heb 7:12). Christ himself is the new and everlasting high priest, interceding on our behalf in the presence of the Father in the heavenly Tabernacle. Are we supposed to go back and embrace the old Law? The apostles said no. Acts 15 records the Council of Jerusalem where the Apostles and elders got together to determine whether gentile believers had to fulfill the Torah along with the New Covenant ordinances, they wrote this letter to gentile believers: “To the Gentile believers in Antioch, Syria and Cilicia: Greetings. We have heard that some went out from us without our authorization [those preaching that gentile believers had to be circumcised before being baptized] and disturbed you, troubling your minds by what they said…It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us not to burden you with anything beyond the following requirements: You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality. You will do well to avoid these things. Farewell.” That’s not very much of the Torah. And this brings me to your first argument, I’ll concede that I am bound as a Christian to what is often referred to the moral law of the old covenant like the Ten commandments, but not because it is part of the Torah, but because Christ told me to follow it (as clarified by his teachings like the Sermon on the Mount, the Summary of the Law, and the Golden Rule) as part of the new covenant. But I am not under obligation to observe ceremonial or civil laws. Their meaning and importance has disappeared for many Christians. This is echoed by St. Paul in Colossians “Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.” So now we have, as a church, created new festivals. Just as much shadows but just as good to point to the reality of Christ for the faithful. Does that mean you shouldn’t observe those festivals? I don’t think so. But I also think it means you cannot require it and you certainly shouldn’t judge those who choose not to participate. You speak of the Hebrew God, but I think that is a little limiting. The God and Father of Jesus Christ, is no longer the God of just the Hebrews. He is God for all nations, and in Christ, all nations are one: “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal 3:28). But all this is my opinion and, as St. Paul says, we all see but dimly.
  6. Personally, I look at these holidays as part of the uniquely Gregorian heritage Christians have. In sending Saint Augustine of Canterbury to England to convert the pagans there, Pope Gregory the Great showed. imho, a very progressive and tolerant attitude in converting the peoples. Rather than destroy the old ways entirely, he wanted to reform them, keep what was good, and incorporate them into the new Christian lives of the converts. He said, "Do not destroy pagan temples, but convert them to Christian use so that the people will feel more comfortable coming there...If the people insist on sacrificing an animal, let them do it – just so long as they sacrifice it to God.” I see this as a very forward thinking idea for his time. Thus, following that format, the meaning of Easter is changed to the day celebrating Our Lord's glorious Resurrection, Saturnalia becomes Christmas, Samhain becomes All Hallow's Eve, and on and on. Christmas trees become symbols of the trinity. Easter eggs become symbolic of the new life washed in the blood of Christ. Perhaps for the purist, these days are tainted by a heathen past. But for me, Resurrection Sunday points to the same event whether its called Easter or Pascha. Either way, Jesus opened the door to eternal life for all. Does the miracle of the incarnation of God in the flesh of a little palestinian Jewish baby somehow get diminished because Christians celebrate it on December 25 rather than April 17 (the day the Discovery Channel reported as Jesus' actual birthday)? Either way the good tidings announced by angels is still for all people. To me the heart of Christianity has very little to do with getting the church calendar right and everything to do with sharing the love of Christ. If that means meeting people halfway so that they can feel comfortable, then so be it. Besides, the sordid pedigree of Christian holidays is a great reminder of what Christianity is all about. Christians, like these holidays, never started out as Christian, we all started out as something else--pagans, heathens, unbelievers--but were converted to Christ. He didn't destroy the old us but cleansed us, transformed us, set us apart, and made us holy. The church has done the same with these days. That's why they're Holy Days (holidays).
  7. So, iyo, is there an area between good and evil where one can be have faith but be disobedient, if so what do you call it?
  8. Isn't stealing other people's property and driving at reckless or unreasonable speeds harming others, or at least don't they have the potential to harm others? I can imagine where lack of a pen could be harmful, regardless of the disregard it shows for boundaries and respect for other people.
  9. New -ism I just learned: Repristinationism: The tendency to thoughtlessly and mechanically repeat the theology of the past, blindly accepting the beliefs, wording, doctrines and proof passages of prior theologians as primary authority, rather than restudying Scripture afresh. hmmm...
  10. Great post Dan! Let me ask you, if someone is faithful, ie, they believe in God and choose to obey Christ and be in relationship with them...but still occasionally sins, doesn't your definition still make them evil? Yet aren't they declared righteous in the eyes of God? I've always wondered about this...
  11. what determines an action as good or evil? Intent? Results? Means used? Can an evil person (who accumulated his evil nature over several bad acts) do good? Can a person who means to do evil still be good if his action unintentionally does good? What if the accumulated evil acts that make a person evil are just a lot of small evils, like stealing pens and speeding, can one good deed, if it's really big, outweigh all those little evil deeds? Moreover, what if a person has accumulated 50.1% good deeds, is that enough to be good? What about the other way? What happens if someone is 50.1% evil, will he be punished? But what if some of the good deeds he's done are really good? Will the 50.1% good person escape punishment? But what if some of his bad deeds are really bad? What about the person who is right at the halfway point, are they good or evil? So people start out good or evil or neutral when they're born. Is a person who unknowingly commitsevil still be accounted as evil for the accumulation of evil acts committed without his knowledge? What bout the other way? This is an interesting concept but it does open the doors to a lot of questions.
  12. From ghoulies and ghosties and long-leggety beasties and things that go bump in the night, Good Lord deliver us!

  13. From ghoulies and ghosties and long-leggety beasties and things that go bump in the night, Good Lord deliver us!

  14. I came across this and it spoke to me. Answers In darkness and in candlelight Deep within the treasure-trove of night My spirit cries Knowledge! Wisdom! Power! Sister Earth replies Wait... Brother Sky replies Watch... Mother Moon replies Silence... Before me blooms the universe A flower Seed and petal Root and leaves Fat with stars Drunk on lives long past All is bare for him who, without eyes, sees
  15. Very good. But, without beer, what is the impetus for returning?
  16. ...urr that was supposed to read: "Got Guy Clark in my Head"...sorry, carry on
  17. Very cool...I love both the Gita and the Upanishads. Very beautiful works.