Interesting conversation with atheist friend


#1

Well, a couple of days back, one of my atheist friends (a very smart chap) tried to lead me on to an argument, by mentioning the Bible as the foundational Holy Text for Christianity, and how it is so intractable and difficult to interpret. He points out that if a divine being wanted us to do something, he’d have just done it outright, instead of handing us a confusing text. Essentially, if God wanted us all to be moral and do what was right, then he’d tell us directly what was right, clearly and explicitly.

Now, being somewhat slow on my (figurative and literal) feet, I don’t remember the answer I gave but it was not nearly as incisive as this: who/what orders you around claiming a divine prerogative to the truth?

That’s right! THE ONE, HOLY, CATHOLIC, APOSTOLIC CHURCH!!!

God does tell us exactly what we’re supposed to do, through his mystical Body on Earth, the Roman Catholic Church! That’s a lot more sensible than divinely inspiring a tome whose contents were only settled a few centuries after He died, was resurrected, and ascended, whose contents are so difficult to interpret, that those they go literally by the book (alone) have fragmented into miniscule (compared to the Sancta Romana Ecclesia) shards, numbering in the mid-five-digits region.

Just an interesting nugget of thought.


#2

Judaism and Christianity are the only religions where the heroes’ failings are described in detail by the same heroes or their companions. Islam on the other hand teaches that the prophets of God cannot sin and would not permit anyone calling Muhammed a sinner.

St Noah was a naked drunk.
St Abraham tried to gain his promised son by sleeping with his wife’s maidservant and begot Ishmael due to pack of faith.
St Jacob practiced deception.
St Judah slept with a prostitute which unbeknownst to him was his daughter-in-law. She bore one of the ancestors of Christ.
St Moses murdered a man. He also disobeyed God and was prohibited entry into the promised land.
St Aaron and St Mariam murmured against Moses. St Mariam was punished with leperasy (St Aaron was not because he was the high priest and couldn’t become unclean).
St Sampson fell in love with a Philistine and told her that his hair was the secret of his God given strength.
St King David committed adultery and murdered the woman’s husband.
St King Solomon had thousands of wives and worshiped their God’s for a time.
St Peter denied Christ.
St Thomas (and even the others besides St John) doubted Christ’s resurrection unless given proof.
St Peter seperated himself with the gentile Christians because of peer pressure from some Jewish Christians.

This supports the authenticity of the Scriptures.


#3

Yes, this is a good consideration to keep in mind. We are blessed to have the Magisterium's authority to submit to! It certainly does seem to make the most sense.


#4

[quote="aquohn, post:1, topic:312533"]
Well, a couple of days back, one of my atheist friends (a very smart chap) tried to lead me on to an argument, by mentioning the Bible as the foundational Holy Text for Christianity, and how it is so intractable and difficult to interpret.

[/quote]

Here's another point you should bring up if this comes up again:

The bible is NOT the "foundational text" for christianity, because neither the writing of, nor the canonization of the bible FOUNDED Christianity. Christianity was started with a divine mandate of magisterial teaching authority given by Christ to the Church. The Church then compiled an authoritative text as a magisterially taught teaching aid. In other words, the bible is doctrinally defined, but it is so because of the authority of the church to declare that it is.

Furthermore, the church relies on three pillars of teaching authority: Sacred Tradition, Sacred Scripture, and Sacred Teaching Authority... and they cannot be separated from each other. The bible interpreted outside the context of the Catholic Church's authority to teach is simply what he says it is: a somewhat confusing text that baffles people into splitting into all kinds of denominations... but God tells us His will directly through the church, which began the moment Christ said, "He who hears you, hears Me, and he who rejects you, Rejects me".


#5

[quote="Actaeon, post:4, topic:312533"]
Here's another point you should bring up if this comes up again:

The bible is NOT the "foundational text" for christianity, because neither the writing of, nor the canonization of the bible FOUNDED Christianity. Christianity was started with a divine mandate of magisterial teaching authority given by Christ to the Church. The Church then compiled an authoritative text as a magisterially taught teaching aid. In other words, the bible is doctrinally defined, but it is so because of the authority of the church to declare that it is.

Furthermore, the church relies on three pillars of teaching authority: Sacred Tradition, Sacred Scripture, and Sacred Teaching Authority... and they cannot be separated from each other. The bible interpreted outside the context of the Catholic Church's authority to teach is simply what he says it is: a somewhat confusing text that baffles people into splitting into all kinds of denominations... but God tells us His will directly through the church, which began the moment Christ said, "He who hears you, hears Me, and he who rejects you, Rejects me".

[/quote]

Scripture is more than a teaching aid. Scripture is not just a collection of writings about God. The Bible doesn't just describe God.

Scripture is the breathed word of God. Scripture is living. It has the power to convert, to sanctify and to change lives. The Bible is the Father lovingly stooping down out of heaven to communicate with his children, and that has tremendous power.

The Jews had scripture long before Jesus was born. The Jewish scriptures had the authority of God behind it. That authority - the chair of Moses - was the legitimate authority of God at the time. Those scriptures themselves testify to the powerful effect God's word can have on individuals who earnestly seek him through his word.

We should always read scripture within the framework of the Church, but that doesn't mean that scripture cannot have a profound effect on the life of individual Christians who read it, study it, meditate on it, pray it back to God, and apply that experience into their daily lives. That doesn't mean that the experience of reading scripture cannot be a profound and powerful mystical encounter with Christ.

Reducing Sacred Scripture to a teaching aid is to deny the power of the Holy Spirit. Anyone who practices lectio divina understands this.

-Tim-


#6

[quote="aquohn, post:1, topic:312533"]
Well, a couple of days back, one of my atheist friends (a very smart chap) tried to lead me on to an argument, by mentioning the Bible as the foundational Holy Text for Christianity, and how it is so intractable and difficult to interpret. He points out that if a divine being wanted us to do something, he'd have just done it outright, instead of handing us a confusing text. Essentially, if God wanted us all to be moral and do what was right, then he'd tell us directly what was right, clearly and explicitly.

Now, being somewhat slow on my (figurative and literal) feet, I don't remember the answer I gave but it was not nearly as incisive as this: who/what orders you around claiming a divine prerogative to the truth?

That's right! THE ONE, HOLY, CATHOLIC, APOSTOLIC CHURCH!!!

God does tell us exactly what we're supposed to do, through his mystical Body on Earth, the Roman Catholic Church! That's a lot more sensible than divinely inspiring a tome whose contents were only settled a few centuries after He died, was resurrected, and ascended, whose contents are so difficult to interpret, that those they go literally by the book (alone) have fragmented into miniscule (compared to the Sancta Romana Ecclesia) shards, numbering in the mid-five-digits region.

Just an interesting nugget of thought.

[/quote]

Has your friend never heard of the Ten Commandments which God gave to Moses? All our moral laws are based on them. Jesus not only upheld them, he expanded on their meaning, making them an obligation of love rather than of mere duty.


#7

[quote="TimothyH, post:5, topic:312533"]
Scripture is more than a teaching aid. Scripture is not just a collection of writings about God. The Bible doesn't just describe God.

Scripture is the breathed word of God. Scripture is living. It has the power to convert, to sanctify and to change lives. The Bible is the Father lovingly stooping down out of heaven to communicate with his children, and that has tremendous power.

The Jews had scripture long before Jesus was born. The Jewish scriptures had the authority of God behind it. That authority - the chair of Moses - was the legitimate authority of God at the time. Those scriptures themselves testify to the powerful effect God's word can have on individuals who earnestly seek him through his word.

We should always read scripture within the framework of the Church, but that doesn't mean that scripture cannot have a profound effect on the life of individual Christians who read it, study it, meditate on it, pray it back to God, and apply that experience into their daily lives. That doesn't mean that the experience of reading scripture cannot be a profound and powerful mystical encounter with Christ.

Reducing Sacred Scripture to a teaching aid is to deny the power of the Holy Spirit. Anyone who practices lectio divina understands this.

-Tim-

[/quote]

I did not deny that the Bible teaches eternal truth from God, but you can't rightly say that "scripture is God breathed" and then ignore the context of 2 Tim 3:16-17 when it says:

"All Scripture is God-breathed and **is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness **so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work."

And you even went so far as to highlight that the old testament was written by men of the church and given with the authority of the church. Furthermore, I think you misunderstand what is meant by a teaching aid: teaching aids CAN have a profound effect, they can be read, studied, meditated on and prayed about... but they are NOT God themselves. When we read the bible, we may have an encounter with God, but that is not the same as saying the Bible is more than a teaching aid which contains God's truth written by men of the church and certified under the church's magisterial authority.

The Bible contains truths about God, but it is not God, and elevating it above its rightful role as a magisterial teaching document to the foundation of the church (subverting Christ's authority in establishing the church) is completely and totally morally wrong.


#8

Your Atheist friend is correct. God DOES tell us DIRECTLY and CLEARLY what is correct. We call that direction our conscience. Everyone has one, and it is peremptory and commanding. We can beat it into oblivion and refuse to listed to it, but it IS there.


#9

From th old Catholic Encyclopedia:

The supremacy of conscience is a great theme of discourse. “Were its might equal to its right”, says Butler, “it would rule the world”. With Kant we could say that conscience is autonomously supreme, if against Kant we added that thereby we meant only that every duty must be brought home to the individual by his own individual conscience, and is to this extent imposed by it; so that even he who follows authority contrary to his own private judgment should do so on his own private conviction that the former has the better claim. If the Church stands between God and conscience, then in another sense also the conscience is between God and the Church. Unless a man is conscientiously submissive to the Catholic Church his subjection is not really a matter of inner morality but is mechanical obedience.

Scripture is more than a teaching aid. Scripture is not just a collection of writings about God. The Bible doesn’t just describe God.

Scripture is the breathed word of God. Scripture is living. It has the power to convert, to sanctify and to change lives. The Bible is the Father lovingly stooping down out of heaven to communicate with his children, and that has tremendous power.

The Jews had scripture long before Jesus was born. The Jewish scriptures had the authority of God behind it. That authority - the chair of Moses - was the legitimate authority of God at the time. Those scriptures themselves testify to the powerful effect God’s word can have on individuals who earnestly seek him through his word.

We should always read scripture within the framework of the Church, but that doesn’t mean that scripture cannot have a profound effect on the life of individual Christians who read it, study it, meditate on it, pray it back to God, and apply that experience into their daily lives. That doesn’t mean that the experience of reading scripture cannot be a profound and powerful mystical encounter with Christ.

Reducing Sacred Scripture to a teaching aid is to deny the power of the Holy Spirit. Anyone who practices lectio divina understands this.

True. But you must remember that the Word is not merely in the Bible, but everywhere. In the beginning there was the Word, and the Word was God, and God/the Word left his fingerprints all over creation. The very intelligibility of creation, the possiblity of systematic science, reveals the intelligibility of the Universe, and a glimpse of the Logos that created it all.

More importantly, the Church is the Bride of Christ (the Word). I like to think of her as, quite literally, the Living Word.


#10

[quote="aquohn, post:1, topic:312533"]
if a divine being wanted us to do something, he'd have just done it outright, instead of handing us a confusing text.

[/quote]

Oh lol :doh2: We can barely explain our own actions and thoughts, our closest friends and relatives surprise us on a daily basis, we don't understand strangers at all, and when it comes to animals or other creatures, we're absolutely clueless. Yet somehow everyone knows what an everlasting, omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient being would do in any particular situation, what it would want and how it would act; and people who don't believe in that being are especially knowledgeable.
Nosce te ipsum would be my answer to such a point; and even that is nearly impossible.


#11

[quote="aquohn, post:9, topic:312533"]
More importantly, the Church is the Bride of Christ (the Word). I like to think of her as, quite literally, the Living Word.

[/quote]

Oops. The more relevant formulation here is "mystical Body of Christ".


#12

**Sticky: Temporary Ban on Evolution/Atheism Threads
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