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Comment Re:23 down, 77 to go (Score 1) 866 866

I would agree with most points you make in your last paragraphs and certainly the last one.

I would tend to say that it is too easy to be critical of using particular modern words like rapture and trinity that are - of course - not written themselves in the texts. A quick off-the-cuff reference to what Christian's term the trinity that comes to mind would be the description of Christ's water baptism by John. I would truly be curious to hear an alternative interpretation for 1 Thess. 4:13-18 that is not consistent with what modern Christians term the rapture - regardless of when the church in its history started to think about the meaning in that particular way. To dismiss the spirit of clear non-symbolic passages (as opposed to clearly figurative passages) because of words Christians have tagged them with or how long it took the church to figure it out, or how long it was forgotten by the church when it was understood by the early church just seems wrong.

I don't agree with 100% of the Left Behind theology - it is a work of fiction. But I do think they did get a better than average amount of the prophecy correct, which isn't easy. My biggest issues with their texts would be the extent of the antichrist's kingdom as I think the prophecy would limit it to the extent of the Roman Empire, and I take exception to their mark of Christ/mark of the beast symbols, but overall not a bad attempt to put into readable form a couple of tough books of the Bible to read in most translations. Is it better to try to read and understand the originals? Yes, of course. But most people write off much of the Bible prophecy because they don't have the time or background to try to unravel it. The fact that it is spread over many books some of which refers to near term events and some yet to be fulfilled doesn't help. So while I'd rather people read the best translation of the original they can find, I don't find the fictional texts to be a problem. As you say - people read things many different ways and it will be interesting to see who is actually right or wrong about Revelation interpretations. The important thing is the eternal end point and not a scorecard or grading of unraveling prophecy before hand. And, of course, focusing on the big things would promote unity. Trouble is, agreeing on what the big things are is just as hard a thing to do as getting unity on them.

I suppose that people could take the approach you suggest about the rapture and the planet and not caring about it since it will all pass away. I guess that to me, God Himself is going to beat the planet up pretty hard according to Revelation, so I'm not sure that what we do is going to be noticed. But I would also point out that regardless of the rapture, the timing of it is not foretold. So doing whatever we wanted with the planet would seem to be a pretty silly thing to do - even if we thought it was going to be happening soon. After all, the early church thought it was going to be happening soon as well. We were originally created to be caretakers, and I'd think this should be our goal with respect to the planet itself. Jesus projected a pretty good "waste not" philosophy while on the earth.

As far as the rest, 1 Cor 13 is a pretty good summary of what to shoot for.

Comment Re:23 down, 77 to go (Score 1) 866 866

The baptism in the Holy Spirit has been going on since Acts 2 for Christians, and a bit earlier if you count Christ. It is one of the divisive issues of the church today, but that doesn't make it less real. Since I have witnessed both baptisms in the Holy Spirit, seen the evidence of changed lives, and have seen the gifts of the Spirit in action, the issue isn't an elaborate construct for me or the Christians I know.

The trinity is clearly present throughout the Old and New Testament.

These are literal Bible truths.

You are correct that Christians today do use terms which are not found in scripture - word for word. We use terms like rapture to describe the events as written in 1 Thess. 4, 2 Thess. 2, and Revelation 4:1 (hereafter being after the church age of Rev 1-3). It is easier to just use one word that is understood among believers than to read out 1 Th. 4 every time you want to talk about the event.

You are right that people who have not heard the truth wouldn't need to hear these things, but if you have been brought up in a Christian household and have chosen to reject Him, you really aren't in that camp.

I won't argue that the church of today has gotten away from what Christ wanted it to be. He tried to make it clear that the church needed to stay united, and every fracture, brought about by sin has fractured the church and weakened it.

Denominations are a curse. But so is the sin in the church that led to some of those splits. Protestantism started because Luther couldn't stand what was going on in the Catholic church and he couldn't find a way to fix it from within. Was he right or wrong? God will decide that.

I can say that the Spirit filled denominations are on the rise and the more classic denominations are failing. The evangelical denominations have had their issues and failures as well because people aren't perfect. You can stand on the outside and throw stones or stand on the inside and try to change things for the better. God wants change first in His children's hearts and then in His church and then in the world outside the church.

You've mentioned LGBT issues a few times. I would agree that Christ would be out trying to save the lost. And once they had accepted His salvation, He would have been telling them to go and sin no more, just like the woman taken in adultery. Preaching against sin is never popular. If you believe people are destined to end up in hell, how is trying to keep that from happening by any means possible wrong? You should love the people and do good whenever possible, But you should also preach the truth in season and out of season.

This Sunday is Pentecost Sunday. It is the celebration of when the Holy Spirit was poured out on the believers in the upper room - the first of many examples in the New Testament. Of one thing I am certain - when the Holy Spirit is in control of God's church, things work fine. When He isn't, there are problems.

Comment Re:23 down, 77 to go (Score 1) 866 866

I think your distillery is broken. The Holy Spirit convicts of sin and has been doing so both in and out of religious contexts in all hearts since time began. It is this reason that all can be judged by God at the white throne judgment, for His Holy Spirit has been continually striving with man's individual hearts and actions to draw them to Him.

Thus, morality can indeed exist whether there is religion or not or whether there is a Christian religion or not. This is what was alluded to in Romans 2:11-16,25-29. However, I would suggest that it is much easier to live a moral life with God and the Holy Spirit's help than without it. Thus, even though morality can certainly exist without religion, it is much stronger with it. That comes from both God's help and a collective desire to live up to other fellow believer's expectations. The eternal aspects of this life along with the promise of a future revealing of each man's works also helps to keep people moral.

Sadly, we all fail at times - I more than most, I'm certain. But that doesn't mean I throw up my hands at religion and its bad representatives. I keep pressing toward the mark and try to do better the next week than I did the week before. I hope you can get past your anger. I strongly suspect God is angry at many things as well and his judgment will start with His own house. For every mega-church you are so critical of (and sometimes rightly so), there are 1,000 missionaries toiling in foreign countries with pretty much no resources, and there are hundreds of small community churches that will never be rich on earth led by pastors or priests who will never get rich either and who put in untold hours in His service.

Best wishes.

Comment Re:23 down, 77 to go (Score 1) 866 866

To set the record straight, the reason the early church was successful was the baptism of the Holy Spirit which empowered them to witness, helped change their lives by increasing good qualities (love, joy, peace, long suffering, gentleness, goodness and meekness) to quote the standard list as a baseline, and which gave them power to act and demonstrate the difference between Christianity and the other religions of the time through the gifts of the Spirit.

The fruit of the spirit manifested itself in many ways that you mentioned, but it was that baptism of the Holy Spirit which made the change in heart and attitude possible.

This was the same exact reason that Jesus was successful in His ministry. He had the Holy Spirit in fulness and literally did what He saw His Father doing.

Regardless of your assertions, it is the attitude of the heart that causes the difficulties with God. All things - nice or not nice - are just things. It is the attitude of the heart toward them that causes the issues.

Yes, church history is littered with problems. But it is also littered with truly good people and ministries. You don't hear about them because they aren't news worthy enough to make the news. I remember when the hurricane hit Haiti. One of our church's organizations was approached by news people wondering how much of the donations went to help the people involved. The math worked out to around 95%. They left because they were only looking for dirt due to some other organizations overhead ratios. You can always find problems. Frequently you don't have to look hard because the reports will be helping you find them. But you can also find good if you look.

Comment Re:23 down, 77 to go (Score 1) 866 866

Jesus taught wherever he could. Much of the teaching time of Jesus (and the early disciples for that matter) was done in the synagogues and the temple at Jerusalem. These were arguably "nice" buildings. They also did a lot of teaching literally in the "field". Jesus, however, didn't spend time teaching on matters of the physical church plant as I recollect. He dealt primarily with eternal issues.

I would also argue that even the early tabernacle that God specified himself was pretty nice, with many gold and silver features. If you translated the dollar value of the portable tabernacle into today's terms you'd be shocked. Solomon's temple was even more magnificent. The New Testament also makes it clear that those who work for the kingdom of God have a reasonable expectation of being compensated. So I am hard pressed to point to scripture that specifically condemns "nice" things. The problem arises when pride, envy, jealousy and the like start to get involved (particularly when things get too nice at your facility or too nice for a particular neighbor church and the people start wishing they could have those things locally as well). The attitudes of the heart are the real danger and not the things themselves.

Every Christian has enough means to give to both God (through His church) and to help the poor. Not all can give monetarily, but all can give something - whether time, money, or materials.

Comment Re:23 down, 77 to go (Score 1) 866 866

... and pay for it

The love of money is the root of all evil.

That certainly applies to churches who have lost their way, and sadly, there are many of those. But it also applies to individuals who aren't charitable. To tar all religious organizations and their member churches as being alike in wanting your goods is no different than considering all non-religious people as being the same because a few horde what they have.

Christianity started out in homes. There isn't anything wrong with wanting to meet in a nice building rather than homes. But I think that in America the Christian denominations have gone too far in the "nice" department. I would prefer to see more money being sent to missions to help those less fortunate. If churches close because they lose membership or people stop supporting them according to the Biblical standards, Christianity itself will not die. It may even become stronger as Christians stop worrying about who has the nicer stuff. Many of the denominations are losing membership because they have stopped trying to live up to Biblical standards and have let the world creep in. At some point perhaps some of those groups will get a clue and put God back in charge of things and return to His standards.

If you're going to be an atheist and reject God, it really doesn't matter if you adhere to the Christian rule set or not. Christian works won't get you to heaven. Living "right" won't get you to heaven. As you say - you gotta have faith - and do a few other free things - none of which require churches. But if you have many Christian relatives, you already know this.

I'm sorry that you grew up in a denomination or church environment where you never witnessed the power of God. If you had, perhaps you would not be an atheist today. From my personal observations over a long life, He is still working in the world today, just as He promised in His word. I hope you will seek out places where you can see His work first hand. The title of this section was 23 down, 77 to go. The world is rapidly reaching a point where it will be 77 up and 23 left. I know that's optimistic - I don't expect it will be anywhere near 77 up, but I do know that there will be rejoicing and parties in certain circles when we leave. Course, it will get grim quickly. Best of luck - and do seek Him out while He can still be found. He's not hiding, and He isn't hard to find - if you bother to look for Him.

Comment Internet access (Score 3, Insightful) 276 276

Everyone thinks the cloud is great - till the backhoe goes through your fiber line and you either don't have a backup data connection due to the fiber cut being down the street, or you do have a backup data connection but it doesn't have the capacity to handle everyone running on the cloud. There are many points in the country where even if your ISP does have a backup, you will be down for quite some time while they reroute (and everyone else is trying to reroute as well). When most ISPs in town use the same trunks to get to the real world, you don't even really have many choices for redundancy.

People who live in silicon valley and some countries with really good overall connectivity to all users are spoiled with many options. Out in the flyover area, things are tougher. Then think of places with even less connectivity than the US has.

Keeping the company up and running by keeping the data local has a lot of advantages.

Comment Re:For those who can read... (Score 1) 237 237

I don't disagree that there were business records kept.

When you put something in the mail in those days, that wasn't tracked by anyone that I know of at that time. It certainly wasn't tracked as it has been in recent years. That was pretty much it for common everyday communication other than face to face. Shipping large items has always been recorded, and they probably wouldn't have gone so far as to ban record keeping at that level. But that isn't the type of communication being debated. What is being debated is normal communication between individuals.

Even at the point of the telegraph's usage in history, I don't think you can claim there were any records kept - everything was pretty much a cash transaction at the telegraph. Clearly the operator at both ends knew what was in the message, but if you went to the office to send one, you were pretty much in the clear on the transmitting side. If you had the message held for delivery on the reception side, the same was true. If the operator knew you, he might have been able to record who sent what, but if he didn't know you, he would have had to rely on who you said you were on both ends and documents were much easier to create in those days if you needed to pretend to be someone else. That isn't to say that you couldn't be spied on if the government chose. That has always been true. But monitoring what everyone was doing would not have set well with the founders.

I think it is a fair assumption that at the very least they would have forbidden government snooping and potentially more.

Comment Re:For those who can read... (Score 4, Insightful) 237 237

Pretty sure that the individuals involved in writing the constitution and the bill of rights would have felt such data would have been considered private to the individual. I would go so far as to say they would have required the companies that recorded the data for billing purposes to remove it when the bill was paid without dispute instead of hanging on to it at all. To let the government sift through it would have been unthinkable.

They had a real clear idea of what it took to mount a revolution without the government knowing what was going on. Several of the amendments are there specifically to keep the government from laying a heavy hand on anyone in the future to ensure that what they had shed blood for would not be trampled on again by any future tyrannical powers

It's pretty clear that 200 years have dimmed the collective consciousness of the people. Poor public schooling hasn't helped.

Comment Re:$1,000 / visitor (Score 1) 886 886

I've tried to read most of this discussion back to front - so if this has been posted earlier my apologies. There seems to be a perception that the majority of the people who are religious hate homosexuals or that they are afraid homosexuality will "rub off on them". There are certainly those who do feel this way, but I think they are the minority. As with most minorities who are vocal, they get the press and tend to make everyone feel the whole is like the part. I am pretty certain that God doesn't approve of their attitudes of the heart toward homosexuals. "He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her." comes to mind. I don't cast many stones. But His following admonition of "Go and sin no more" is frequently lost in the debate. Everyone makes mistakes. You shouldn't keep on making the same ones though. This particular group of people want that right.

Personally, I have never understood why God made some of the rules He did. The thing is, God doesn't care what I think about any particular sin issue. The only thing that matters in the end is what He thinks. He's been clear on this issue, recorded in both Testaments. So when it comes to the various branches of Christianity, I fail to understand why they are making some diversification and inclusive choices that they are making. The world will always count the cost of sin and do what it wants. The church is expected to try to live up to God's standards. It seems that lately, in the spirit of inclusiveness, we are lowering our standards to those of the world. There - stone cast.

God's isn't a popular opinion. Many of His rules aren't. But as I said, it really doesn't matter. Now, if you don't believe God exists, you don't care what He says. If you've seen His power at work first hand and know that He is real, you do care what He says. I'm in the latter group. Most here are in the former group - to read their comments.

Most of the laws attempting to exclude sexual orientation in discrimination aren't being promulgated for IBM and the like. Companies like this already have a diverse work force and policies in place to prevent any discrimination. They are not the issue.

These laws are being proposed, specifically to protect extremely small businesses - frequently sole proprietor style businesses - that might be 100% Christian in employment (1 or 2 people working there). A Christian shouldn't be hostile to anyone, but by the same token, if they are absolutely sure that God will condemn unrepentant sinners to Hell, they also should not be expected to make it easier for people to go there. It isn't that they don't care. In fact - it is just the opposite. They do care and don't want any part of sanctioning a lifestyle that they feel will doom the people involved to eternal punishment.

You are right that it isn't their business how their bedrooms are decorated. You're right that they might not have any reasonable say in whether a given marriage happens or not (although God's blessings toward a nation have frequently been based on how close or far away the people are from Him which does broaden these sin issues out to affect everyone - regardless of how limited the scope you feel a particular sin's effects to be). But Christian business owners or employees should be able to say "I don't want to participate" without fear of lawsuit or getting fired.

That is true for the owner of the facilities handling the wedding, the religious official performing at the wedding, the owner of the facilities handling the reception (if at the church), or those who provide food, music, or photography services for those involved. It only becomes their business when asked to participate in an event they believe God declares to be wrong. I am using the context of a wedding specifically because that is one of the few places where being homosexual in public is obvious. It really isn't in many other public venues that I can think of where a business would be involved. Maybe a dance studio. I'm hard pressed to think of many other places where a sexual orientation distinction would be obvious.

I suspect that even with protections in place, there will be Christians who will help out because they want to not be seen as being judgmental or know they would be hypocritical if they refused. But those who do want to refuse, should be able to do so. It is rare that there is only one caterer, one photographer, or one venue in town for a given event.

Unfortunately, it all does get back to believing in God. Even a modern day Elijah wouldn't have much luck trying to convince the world that God is - but it sure would be impressive! After the judgments start pouring out during the tribulation, Elijah and Enoch (my opinion anyway) are going to try from Jerusalem. They'll eventually be killed and resurrected after three days. Many will be saved in those last days - but what a price the world will pay.

Comment Re:Let the Robot Rapings Begin! Got $14.50? (Score 2) 531 531

That merely sets a penalty for a particular civil offense. It does not condone the offense. Don't forget the marriage and no divorce clauses in the same passage you quoted. It wasn't a simple matter of paying off the father. You are correct that most Christians don't have a clue what the Bible says, particularly the Old Testament.

Comment Re:... I'd be highly insulted if i were religious (Score 1) 531 531

Before Christ's death, souls were relegated to torment or paradise compartments of sheol - see Jesus comments about the rich man and Lazarus (Lk. 16:20 and following). When Christ won his victory on the cross, he took the righteous souls to heaven (Eph. 4:8-10). After Christ's resurrection, the souls of the righteous who die go to heaven. At the 'rapture', the bodies of the dead whose souls are in heaven are transformed into some glorified body and reunited to the soul. Post rapture, the bodies and souls of those few who accept Christ and then die in the tribulation go straight to heaven (Re. 6:9-11). The wicked dead's souls remain in the torment compartment of sheol until the great white throne judgment when their bodies will be transformed to an eternal state, united with their soul, and judged for their refusal to accept Christ or God and then sent to eternal torment (Re. 20:11-15).

Souls are in the domain of God. Man's programming will never 'create' a soul. It may, someday, mimic a soul, and if so, I'd prefer it mimic the soul of Jesus rather than some other souls the world has known. But regardless of it's ability to do so, it isn't and will never be an eternal soul.

Comment Re:I always thought it funny (Score 1) 755 755

Sadly, television shows like Star Trek with their transporters and Stargate Atlantis with the wraith beaming technology have been around for years promoting the ability of aliens to cause people to disappear.

At least initially, this is likely to be promoted by the non-Christian governments that are left (either fully intact or mostly intact) as the most plausible explanation for what happened to Christians during the rapture (if that is your reference).

Only after the advent of more of the tribulation will it become obvious what happened to anyone who cares to look. The angel proclaiming the Gospel message to everyone left and warning them against following the anti-Christ will help.

Even then, most will reject the clear fulfillment of the prophecy uttered some 2,000+ years previously.

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