Thanks, Everybody!

It’s been an interesting month, and I appreciate having been able to hang out with everyone here on PT Blog. I knew that some of the ideas I’d be expressing would be controversial, to say the least, but thanks for listening, and James, thanks for not censoring.

I don’t know to what extent I’ll be participating here in the coming months. I do have a business to run, private studies, and about ten hobbies in which I’m active. There is quite a bit of emotional involvement, and time and thought that goes into producing articles for a blog site, even as a guest editor. Anyone who can do this for an extended time period has my complete respect!

In the inimitable words of Porky Pig: “A ba beya ba beya, That’s all Folks!”

BB

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Prophecy?

I’ve got an old Iron Maiden song playing somewhere back in the caverns of my cranium as I visualize my Christian brothers and sisters running for the hills to avoid capture by Nero’s soldiers back in the first century. Nero, by this point, was already soaking Christians in flammable liquids, and igniting them to warm and illuminate his lavish parties, a practice which would be difficult to visualize or justify if the life of Jesus Christ had been at that time simply a 25-30 year old bucolic legend based on the story of Mithra.

I know that many things fade with time. They certainly did for me. Also, there are things I’m now learning that I never knew. I thought I’d take some time and share some information, out of love, and in the spirit of the parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man. We’ve entertained the theory that prophecy was written after it had already been fulfilled. There are some notable exceptions to this, and the case of Jesus would seem to be one of them. One resource we have during our own lifespans is proof of the relative intactness of the Old Testament scriptures, at least over a 2,500 year time span, because of the ways in which these compare to the so-called “Dead Sea” scrolls. So, any theories involving Catholic tampering do not apply. There are some fairly specific prophecies, part of the ancient Jewish literature, which pertain directly to Jesus Christ, and were written well in advance of His life, death, and resurrection.

First, lets turn to Luke 24: 44-45, where we read:

“He said to them, ‘This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms.’ Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.”

There are two major Old Testament passages which describe and directly apply to the experiences of Jesus. Psalm 22, and Isaiah 52, and 53 contain some amazing descriptive language, and there are certainly others. Bible Scholars have identified scores of references in the Law, Prophets, and Psalms which foreshadow, prophesy, or describe Jesus Christ.

I’m going to highlight, or excerpt these chapters, because I know from experience that if I just list chapter and verse, most people will never look them up and read them for themselves.

Psalm 22:

1. My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning?

6. But, I am a worm, not a human being. I am scorned by everyone, despised by the people.
7. All who see me mock me, they hurl insults, shaking their heads.
8. He trusts in the Lord, they say, let the Lord rescue him. Let him deliver him, since he delights in him.
9. Yet you brought me out of the womb; you made me feel secure on my mother’s breast.
10. From birth I was cast on you; from my mother’s womb you have been my God.

15. My mouth is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth; you lay me in the dust of death.
16 Dogs surround me, a pack of villains encircles me; they pierce my hands and my feet.
17 All my bones are on display; people stare and gloat over me.
18. They divide my clothes among them, and cast lots for my garment.

25. From you comes the theme of my praise in the great assembly, before those who fear you I will fulfill my vows.
26. The poor will eat and be satisfied; those who seek the Lord will praise him-may your hearts live forever.
27 All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the Lord, and all the families of the nations will bow down before him,
28 for dominion belongs to the Lord and he rules over the nations.
29. All the rich of the earth will feast and worship, all those who go down to the dust will kneel before him–those who cannot keep themselves alive.
30. Posterity will serve him; future generations will be told about the Lord.
31 They will proclaim his righteousness, declaring to a people yet unborn. He has done it!

Isaiah 52: 13 See my servant will act wisely; he will be raised and lifted up and highly exalted.
14 Just as there were many who were appalled at him–his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any human being and his form marred beyond human likeness–
15 so he will sprinkle many nations, and kings will shut their mouths because of him. For what they were not told, they will see, and what they have not heard, they will understand.

Isaiah 53:
1 Who has believed our message, and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
2 He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
3 He was despised and rejected by others, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.
4 Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him and afflicted.
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.
6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
7 He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.
8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away. Yet who of his generation protested? For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was punished.
9 He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth.
10 Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the Lord makes his life an offering for sin, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand.
11 After he has suffered, he will see the light of life, and be satisfied by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many and he will bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.


He that hath an ear, let him hear!

In Christian Love,
BB

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The Game

In view of some of the recent comments, I’m going to expose a certain stereotype for the purpose of discussion. It’s a prominent and identifiable one, but what I’m about to share does not apply universally to everyone, so bear with me. I’ve noticed that this game has been played wherever our former religious experiences have been discussed. It starts with:

“Hi, I’m an atheist, and I’m just so intelligent! Let me acquaint you with the only logical method of determining valid information, and the only rational and acceptable way of interpreting it, and then you’ll become an atheist, too, unless of course you are just plain stupid!”

Why don’t more believers take this bait, and cross over? The fact is, people make benefit assessments in their lives, related to purchases, friendships, relationships, career choice, and even their faith. For some, faith provides benefits which non-belief simply cannot replace. In fact, it often acts as an all purpose solution, or a one-stop shopping center for a wide collection of needs and desirables, especially if one is raising a family. How can an evangelizing atheist replace these tangibles and intangibles with something of greater or equal value? He can’t. All he has to offer is a vacuum. Nothingness. It’s like a eunuch going to a dance club to try to pick up women.

Back when I built and rode Triumphs, there were always Harley guys who acted as if they were bigger and badder, had bigger dicks, and were more authentic bikers, just because they rode HD.
One of the lessons from life’s school of hard knocks is that, no matter our talents, there is generally someone else who has greater talent. Name the criteria. If you start a contest, sometimes you’re going to win and sometimes you’re going to lose. What you have is what you have, and successful people learn to use what they have effectively. There will always be someone with a higher IQ, more wealth, bigger muscles, hotter cars or bikes, more lovers, better fighting skills, or more persuasive and magnetic personality. What is true is that often people will become jealous and resent formidably strong or obviously superior types. Idolization and imitation are not universal reactions by any means.

The WCG was a seeker group. The ministry was dedicated to attracting people who either had not thought much about belief, or were looking for solutions to some of life’s more vexing problems. The church would seek and pick up whatever stragglers they could find, usually by pretending to provide special information which nobody else had, and to use this information to intellectually back prospectives into a corner, leaving them no other logical course but to join up. No matter that the vast majority of the people who heard the message simply tuned it out as being ridiculous. Many ex-members still have retained this methodology, and since it worked at one time on them, they use it in attempting to spread their new ideas, often with missionary zeal.

I’ll concede the fact that many non-believers are indeed happier and better adjusted than those like ourselves who have had or are having a bad religious experience. However, for the most part, Christians have some pretty awesome coping skills, and quite a sense of community. Generally, they help one another, and humanity at large, sharing many of their talents and resources. And, yes you can find these qualities and sense of community elsewhere, if you know where to look. It’s just that they seem to be concentrated in the Christian community. In terms of intelligence, interests, and abilities, believers mirror society at large, making it easy for anyone to find and form friendships. Friendship is also a very powerful motivating factor in keeping people attached to any collective group. It’s one of the major adjustment problems many of the people who left WCG have cited in their lives.

Benefit assessment is the reason why happy believers do not succumb to the charms and persuasive powers of the “Elvis of Atheism” types. Just in case anyone happened to be wondering.

BB

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