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Old 01-06-2012, 12:11 AM   #1
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Baha'u'llah and The Empty Tomb: A Dichotomy?

Hello All,

I am brand new to the forum.

I have a question about the biblical accounts of Christ's resurrection and the empty tomb.

By way of background, I was raised Christian and have experienced God powerfully in Christ; and I also have found in Baha'u'llah's teaching of the oneness of humankind the most urgently needed message for our time.

My problem is that I can't reconcile the two and am not willing to accept glib rationalizations that only smooth over the problem. There seems to be a stark incompatibility between the early Christian witness about Christ, as recorded in the New Testament, and the statements about Christ made in the Baha'i Writings. The most fundamental of these contradictions regards the Resurrection of Christ.

I realize there are whole books written to show that Baha'u'llah fulfilled the prophecies about Christ, and that there are allegorical readings that have been made by Abdul-Baha' and others of some New Testament statements about Christ. While these are not fresh in my mind, I have read them before. I just can't see how they actually work--how they resolve the real problems.

Let me lay out what I see as the crux of the problem--the nature of the early Christian witness of the Resurrection, as given in the New Testament:

None of the four gospel accounts are unclear regarding Jesus' resurrection. They say he rose bodily from the dead, was seen and handled by witnesses, and that after his rising, the tomb was empty.

Even the "shorter ending" of the Gospel of Mark, the least elaborate account in the gospel tradition, has an empty tomb when the women come to wrap Christ's body in spices. They do not wrap the body because it is not there. Instead, an angel tells them that he has risen and will visit the apostles in Galilee.

The early Christian confession of faith given in 1 Corinthians 15, believed to have been formulated within 20 years after Jesus' death, indicates the empty tomb by speaking of his having been "buried" but then "raised" from the tomb on the third day and having then risen and appeared to his disciples. And Paul's doctrinal teachings on the resurrection in the remainder of this chapter make clear that he believed the physical bodies of believers, though now laid to rest, would be raised and transformed into immortal bodies at Christ's return.

The term "resurrection" was used exclusively in that time (the First Century) to refer to a physical rise and transformation of the body. Contemporaneous belief clearly distinguished between this eschatological event and the more familiar phenomenon of seeing apparitions of the dead. No one would have confused the two. (See, on this point and all these points, the most authoritative work on the New Testament texts to date--_The Resurrection of the Son of God_, by noted biblical scholar N. T. Wright.)

Thus it stands to reason that the early Christians applied the term "resurrection" to Christ precisely because they believed him to have risen bodily from the dead, and to have conquered death. This fits with Paul's letters (our *earliest* source on Christianity), all four Gospels, and the absence of any traditions whatsoever about Jesus' body being further cared for, venerated, or disposed of after Easter Sunday. There were no traditions about how the disciples dealt with Christ's body after the third day because there was no longer any body around for them to deal with.

I've seen where Baha'u'llah says that the resurrection of a Manifestation of God means his arising to proclaim his mission. And I've seen Abdul-Baha's explanation of the resurrection of Christ as his disciples realizing that he was in some sense not truly dead, and the like.

Yet these explanations, which sound fine in the abstract, have actually nothing to do with the early Christian experience or witness regarding the resurrection of Christ. No one reading any of the accounts of Christ's life (the gospels), Paul's letters, or the sources of early Christianity can reasonably read them to say merely that Easter morn found the disciples gathered in the tomb around Jesus' decaying corpse but realizing, heart-warmingly, that his spirit went on.

If the early Christians *had* believed that Christ merely lived on in spirit, then there would have been no reason to either 1) apply the term "resurrection"--which had a definite bodily meaning at the time--to the simple survival of the soul, which was a distinct concept, or 2) assert that Jesus rose on the third day after his death: given the distinction of body and soul, there is no reason they would have thought the soul stayed in the (dead!) body till the third day after! Nor--if all they asserted for Jesus was the survival of his soul--was there any reason to think him unique in this or setting a special precedent, since *everyone has a soul that survives death.

They did not believe that what Jesus experienced was what had always happened to everyone at death all along. To the absolute contrary--they proclaimed Christ "the firstborn" from the grave, and the harbinger of a general resurrection of mankind, brought about by and through him.

Given that the very *idea* that Jesus *was* resurrected comes from these early Christian texts describing him as being crucified, buried, and bodily resurrected, leaving behind him an empty tomb, it seems wholly fallacious to interpret the resurrection in a way that fails entirely to engage, much less explain, these accounts.

Thus, I can't help think that the Baha'i way I've seen of accounting for Christ's resurrection is entirely inadequate. It doesn't explain why the earliest Christians spoke of Christ as *resurrected*, rather than just surviving in spirit. It doesn't explain their belief in and accounts of the empty tomb. It doesn't explain why Sunday became their new Sabbath, "the Lord's day." It doesn't account for the gospel narratives of the apostles handling Christ's body. And it doesn't begin to account for why the early Christians expected their own bodily resurrection and placed Christ's resurrection from the tomb--rather than just his life or his post-mortem spirit--at the center of their religious life.

Thus I am on the horns of this dilemma. The seeming Baha'i explanations of Christ's resurrection fail to explain *anything*. Unless I am to believe that the early Christian experience and witness was simply a delusion, I should believe he was resurrected in the sense they experienced it: his tomb was empty, and he rose bodily from the dead. If I reject that witness, I have no reason to think Christ was anything more than a great moral teacher whose body was stolen from his tomb or whose disciples hallucinated--neither of which provides any reason to think of him as the messiah, a divine manifestation, or anything other than a good man. It was precisely the resurrection that marked Jesus off from the other, "failed" messiahs, like Bar Kokhba, and made his movement take the world by storm.

Yet if I accept Christ's bodily resurrection, then it seems I ought to think of his prophesied Second Coming, and the general resurrection of humankind, as literal. Also, since he was alone in having reportedly risen from the dead--something Moses, the Buddha, Muhammad, the Bab, Baha'u'llah, and everyone else has thus far failed to do, this would suggest a unique position for him, as Christians have also always claimed for him--that his is the name above every name, that he is God's "only begotten" son, and that he is the Lord. What, then, to do with Baha'u'llah's claims to *be* the Second Coming, or even the Father(!)?

If Christ uniquely rose from the dead, then--it would seem--he is uniquely a manifestation of God.

So, it seems like perhaps Baha'is *ought* to deny the bodily resurrection of Christ, on theological grounds. Yet the allegorical readings of it that I've seen in the Writings thus far seem terribly weak. "Resurrection" isn't just a nice term in Christianity: it was a historical event at a certain tomb, on a certain day, and attested to by people who saw the empty tomb, and the risen one. Weak allegorizations that elide all the details and the significance this had in the actual early Christian movement just don't cut it.

For the time being, I see no way to reconcile the core witness of Christ's disciples, and my own experience of God in Christ, with my experience also of God's message to our fractured world given by Baha'u'llah. Make no mistake, in Baha'u'llah's message of unifying the world, I hear God's voice--powerfully. It resonates with me so deeply. I can't get past the first few pages of the Hidden Words without hearing His voice. And I cannot possibly gainsay his message that God is the Unifier. But how to unify this message itself--or its messenger Baha'u'llah--with the earliest scriptural testimony about Christ? <sigh>

My question? Can the early Christian witness of the resurrection--what they experienced as recorded in their testament, in its details and in what *they* meant by it--be reconciled with Baha'u'llah being a messenger of God? Or does one foot or the other have to be pared down in order to fit them both into the same pair of shoes?

Any thoughtful responses would be appreciated.

Thank you!

Don
 
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Old 01-06-2012, 10:04 AM   #2
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The bodily resurrection could be a tradition

I noticed a non Baha'i noted this and it is an interesting possiblity, especially since there is not place where it is very specifically stated that the resurrection was of the body. AND there are multiple, multiple references to the difference between a physical body and a spiritual body which to me says why have those specifics if not to be able to differentiate that the resurrection was not physical. The tradition may have been needed to teach the "truth" of Christ. However the Truth of Christ is NOT miracles, but the Word that He embodied and taught.

One of my favorite books of all times, I've read it 5 times, is THE RISE OF CHRISTIANITY by Rodney Stark. In it he usues modern sociaological models to examine many misconceptions about Christinaity such as all early Christians were poor...not true there were probably Christians in imperial households, ...that women had important roles in the early church, and that those who convert to a new religion were privileged in that they were in detached positions that allowed them to seek and think.

However he illustrated beautifully how belief in Christ forever changed the world as men had known it. In approximately 150 and 250 A.D. there were plauges in Rome. The pagans barricaded themselves in their homes and fled the city, and they put out or abandonned the sick and dying. However the Christians stayed and nursed the sick and they died at times doing so. This contrast in the makeup of humans from the ultimately selfish to those willing to die because they believed in a new way is what Christ brought us.

In this day we believe Baha'u'llah has brought this new Spirit to us that is not so concerned with individual salvation as it is in the salvation of all mankind and in service to others. You can stay in the clouds of old and confusing beliefs and traditions or you can make a brave move into the light of a new day. If you prya our prayers and read our Writings and can be detached then you shall see. This is not a place for those seeking to lead or make a name for themselves. There is a new unity here that precludes that. I wish you the best..............

BTW even Christianity today is fighting among itself about the past literalism. I find that amazing. Some of it is terribly extreme and is used to advance individual agendas for control and leadership, but it is interesting that it is almsot likke it is tearing itself apart with the very issues that this Faith has forseen and teaches.................
 
Old 01-06-2012, 03:20 PM   #3
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To recognize Baha'u'llah

It was my privilege not to need to wrestle with Christian issues when I finally accepted Baha'u'llah. It is in our Writings that if you truly know Christ, you will recognize Baha'u'llah. We are also told the the first proof of the station of One who is the Holy Spirit on earth is His person, and after His passing it is the Writings which were revealed. But I did not have to have answers to the old treachings and traditions. I now know those answers for other people, but after 2000 years I can see things could have been skewed a bit and what I perceived of this Faith was what each of the previous religions had been, however it is a much more world encompassing message. We cease to be concerned with individual salvation, we are concerned for the world.

I do NOT tend to think that arguments are what bring people to this Faith, but a recognition of the Holy Spirit which is a matter of the heart. I see too many who are so intellectual that they are hindered by it. They neither understand feelings or intuition or intimations of the Holy Spirit. I tend to believe that those who argue too fiercely want to be in control and or in positions of leadership. The unity of this Faith is such that there is no other group of people on this earth who can be so cohesive though it would be hard to demonstrate this unless you participate and am around it.
 
Old 01-06-2012, 10:24 PM   #4
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Independent,

Welcome to the Forum!

We've already discussed this issue atsome lengths here but I suppose I could summarize some of my own explorations..

Baha'is as you already probably know don't accept the physical resurrection of Jesus after His martyrdom.

Here is my own personal view which I think makes some sense..

You may also be aware that the Bab the title of Siyyid Ali Muhammad was also martyred in a square in Tabriz in July 1850 by execution of seven hundred fifty riflemen.. The story bares some resemblences to that of Jesus own martyrdom:

Anyone reading the martyrdoms of both Jesus and the Báb, will notice some very intriguing similarities...
•The age of the Báb and length of His mission are similar to those of Jesus.
•Both had farcical trials with predictable conclusions.
•The Báb is put to death on the eve of Ramadan, exactly as Jesus is martyred on the eve of Sabbath and the Passover, for the same reasons.
•The Báb being paraded through town on an ass recalls Jesus' entry into Jerusalem.
•The Báb met His martyrdom at noon, which is the time Jesus was taken away to His death in John.
•Both are suspended in the air, have one fellow-companion going to Paradise, and the same words are uttered for their going there.
•The Báb instructs His disciples to deny their faith, much as Jesus' disciples fled and denied Him in order for His faith to continue.
•Both the Báb and Jesus demonstrate a power over martyrdom that shows it was a voluntary death.
•Both are struck by a sword / spear.
•The disappearance of the Báb before the people, is similar to Jesus' disappearance from the tomb.
•A long darkness (and other natural wonders) follows the deaths of both the Báb and Jesus.
•Guards are posted over both the Báb's and Jesus' bodies so that their bodies are not taken, but both fail in their jobs.
•The bodies of both the Báb and Jesus are both found disappeared on the third day.
•In both cases a report is spread abroad to cover the disappearance.

Please read this story here:

Martyrdom of the Bab

Why I don't subscribe to a physical resurrection of Jesus:


The empty tomb can be easily explained and this is my own personal perspective and doesn't necessarily represent an official view...

To understand this you need to look at the story as described mostly in the Gospel of John.. Two secret disciples had custody of the physical remains of Jesus. They were Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus.. Joseph you'll recall requested of Pilate the remains of Jesus be given him for burial. There is no record in the accepted Gospels that the disciples knew Joseph or Nicodemus.

There is also a calendar issue which confuses the burial story.. We're told that it was the eve of the Sabbath which would be close to Friday at sunset.. The Sabbath lasted until sunset on Saturday..and the beginning of the next day started after sunset.

Joseph had time from sunset Friday until sunset Saturday to remove the remains to a more secure location. When the disciples came on the scene after the Sabbath the body had already been moved and they did not inquire of Joseph or Nicodemus who had custody of the remains at least according to the record we have. It was Joseph and Nicodemus who came to the tomb at night bringing spices and linen cloths.

Why were the remains moved? There was a real possibility that the body might be insulted or exposed to redicule by the enemies.

There is a lovely book called "Gospel Light" published by A. J. Holman Co. by George M. Lamsa who was one of the few scholars who was a native speaker of Aramaic. On page 157 of Gospel Light, George Lamsa defines the Aramaic word "Mota":

In Aramaic the word death mota means "not present, but somewhere"

Note the words recorded as spoken to the women who came to the empty tomb:

"He is not here.." in Luke 24:6

Unfortunately when the Gospel story was translated from Aramaic to Greek the Aramaic idiom was forgotten or overlooked.. this can easily happen when people try tp translate from one language to another..and there were probably no two languages of the middle east at that time that were more unlike one another, i.e., Aramaic and Greek..

There were already strong beliefs among the people that Moses and Elijah had ascended and not actually died...

Jewish Mysticism and Heavenly Ascent Legends and the Context of Christian Origins « Vridar

So there was already an early belief in this and the early church adopted this belief.

Another issue is that the resurrection stories themselves appear to differ. If you were in a court room and the witnesses had different testimony it would not bode well.

I do respect that most Christians are entitled to their beliefs and Baha'is do not go out of their way to attack these beliefs on Christian forums.. When Christians discover our beliefs they seem to take offence that we do not accept a physical resurrection.

The Baha'i view can be summarized:

His resurrection from the interior of the earth is also symbolical; it is a spiritual and divine fact, and not material; and likewise His ascension to heaven is a spiritual and not material ascension.

(Abdu'l-Baha, Some Answered Questions, p. 103)

As to the resurrection of the body of Christ three days subsequent to His departure: This signifies the divine teachings and spiritual religion of His Holiness Christ, which constitute His spiritual body, which is living and perpetual forevermore.

(Abdu'l-Baha, Tablets of Abdu'l-Baha v1, p. 192)

"...We do not believe that there was a bodily resurrection after the Crucifixion of Christ, but that there was a time after His Ascension when His disciples perceived spiritually His true greatness and realize He was eternal in being. This is what has been reported symbolically in the New Testament and has been misunderstood. His eating with His disciples after resurrection is the same thing."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, October 9, 1947)

(Compilations, Lights of Guidance, p. 492)
 
Old 01-07-2012, 06:35 AM   #5
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I think arthra really gave this topic justice! Well done on your wonderful explanation!

I would also like to add that if we are to look at these matters from a scientific and logical perspective things may become clearer..

From a scientific point of view, bodily resurrections are not possible. The only evidences for a bodily resurrection are various ancient pagan religious documentation and two thousand year old biblical documentation which has been translated more than once..

The evidence overwhelmingly seems to support the view that bodily resurrections are not possible, and therefore would never have happened, or ever will happen.

Also I do not believe it to be a coincidence that resurrection appears in other religions which pre-date Christianity. To me a valid explanation is that the teachings of Jesus were tainted by pagan influence after His death and this influence gradually led to radical transformation and addition of doctrines.

Mithraism is a religion which you should investigate, it appears some Christian doctrine is very similar to doctrine of this old religion.

Also, "The Egyptian cult of Osiris had a similar belief; for it was Osiris who was dead and rose again on the third day." Guignebert, Jesus: p531

"Other contemporary mystery religions no doubt contributed to the evolution of Christian mythology. The Syrian cult of Adonis also had a large following during the time of early Christianity. Adonis, which means The Lord (Hebrew: Adonai), was represented in the liturgy as dying and then rising again on the third day. And in this liturgy it was the women who mourned his death and who found him risen on the third day." Ibid: p39
 
Old 01-07-2012, 11:17 PM   #6
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Cine,

Thank you for your concern. I'll comment on a few things you wrote.

First...
Quote:
Originally Posted by cire perdue View Post
after 2000 years I can see things could have been skewed a bit
The problem is with regard to the resurrection of Christ is not that things have gotten turned around over 2000 years, but that if it was merely symbolic then things got turned around completely, not skewed a bit, and this would need to have happened within 20 years or less, rather than 2000. Already in Paul's letters we see a belief in a literal resurrection.

_______

Be that as it may, one of the things that appeals to me about the Baha'i faith is that there are principles affirming the need for investigation, the use of reason, and so on, and also that there are principles against bringing prejudices to our interactions with others, avoiding contention, and engaging in fruitful dialogue.

I believe, Cine, that you are perfectly sincere in your faith and are here at least in part because you want to help others understand and embrace it.

Yet I'm puzzled because there are an attitude and assumptions in your responses to my question thus far that seem to have nothing to do with me personally and seem at odds with the principles I mentioned above.

You wrote:
Quote:
If you pray our prayers and read our Writings and can be detached then you shall see. This is not a place for those seeking to lead or make a name for themselves.
and

Quote:
I do NOT tend to think that arguments are what bring people to this Faith, but a recognition of the Holy Spirit which is a matter of the heart. I see too many who are so intellectual that they are hindered by it. They neither understand feelings or intuition or intimations of the Holy Spirit. I tend to believe that those who argue too fiercely want to be in control and or in positions of leadership.
These seem to assume the worst of an inquirer, or someone who wants to use reason in their investigation of the faith, from the start. While I agree--and see from my own past experience--that being too intellectually focused in matters of spirituality can be an impediment, some of the above seems to me both uncharitable and contrary to the very principles I read in the Baha'i Writings, like these...

1. The place of reason in investigation of the faith, and the duty of believers to set forth rational arguments for it:

"... in this age the peoples of the world need the arguments of reason."
('Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 7.)

"Every subject presented to a thoughtful audience must be supported by
rational proofs and logical arguments." (Abdu'l-Bahá, Foundations of World Unity, p.86; italics added ). We must do so in light of "the rational faculty with which God hath endowed the essence of man."
(Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings, LXXXIII, p.164)

"Our Father will not hold us responsible for the rejection of dogmas which we are unable either to believe or comprehend, for He is ever infinitely just to His children." (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 13) [BTW, Paris Talks is my current reading; so I just saw this quote yesterday.]

"First we must speak of the logical proofs, afterward the spiritual proofs."
(Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p.197; italics added).

The idea here is not to tell investigators that rational arguments don't matter, but to come up with arguments that are actually rational and persuasive to reasonable minds. I see Abdul-Baha saying first the logical proofs, then the spiritual. And then I see on this thread the logical being short-circuited in favor of a jump to the spiritual.

2. Independent Investigation

If a seeker is to be told by a believer how he should do his independent investigation, rather than working it out for himself, then the "independent" part needs to be scrapped.

3. Charity

In the Writings what is taught is that people should overlook others' faults, not that they should groundlessly impute them where they don't exist. People who want rational arguments want "to be in control" and "to make a name for themselves"? Where did that come from??

Take a minute and think how silly this idea is. Someone posting under a pseudonym on a small Internet message board is doing so in order to "be in control" of a worldwide religion or "make a [pseudo-]name for himself"???

Such ideas are not only illogical, they also demean seekers and will tend to drive people away, not bring them in.

I've come here with perfectly valid questions about how an earlier revelation (that of Christ) can be squared with that which is said to continue and in some ways supersede it (that of Baha'u'llah). What I'm posting here isn't meant to "make a name"--whatever that would mean on pseudonymous message board, or wrest control of a world religion, or any other silliness you can dream up. I'm giving voice to questions that I'm wrestling with. I would LOVE more than anything else to see how this all neatly integrates. But I have to actually see it, and not just pretend to. And I don't see it. So far as I can see, the Baha'i interpretation of Resurrection of Christ is utterly vacuous--it explains a straw Jesus, not the one in the actual documents and scriptures of his early disciples.

This is for all the world how it looks to me. And I thus see no way to fully integrate Christ and Baha'u'llah. But if I didn't want to be able to integrate them, I wouldn't be here asking for thoughtful perspectives on this issue.

I'm only going to spend a limited amount of time here. I don't plan to be a long-term poster. Rather than want to spending my time arguing with Baha'is, what I'd most like is to be working actively toward the ideals that you and I both share--those of the oneness of humanity.

Don
 
Old 01-07-2012, 11:50 PM   #7
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Thank you for the responses on this thread and the other dealing with resurrection. I appreciate your taking time to respond, especially since this issue has been brought up so many times for you already. I looked and saw that there have been other threads dealing with the resurrection at quite some length; and those give me a better idea of how Baha'is on this forum deal with the resurrection.

This is a very involved issue, one in which, as they say, the devil--or perhaps the Lord--is in the details. So, I won't have time to do it justice tonight or tomorrow. Possibly I can get back to it Monday and lay out what I see as the nub of the issue, which it does not appear to me has been adequately dealt with.

For the moment, I'll just make some comments that are brewing in my head right now:

First, suppose that believers like Joseph of Arimathea did move the body to a safer location. Then the tomb would have been empty even if Jesus' body were still quite dead. But if the tomb were empty because some of his disciples had moved his body, this would hardly have prompted the entire early Christian community to believe Jesus' body had been raised from the dead. The disciples who moved him would have known where the body was, and it strains credulity to add to this speculation that they moved the body that they would now keep this information from all the other disciples and let them believe the body had risen from the dead.

Second, according to Jewish custom, Jesus' body needed to have additional burial preparations--indeed, that's why the women went to the tomb. Not only should they have prepared his body at that point using spices, his bones should have been put into an ossuary a year later, etc. Yet the story of Christ's burial stops on the third day.

Third, the burial places of religious founders become holy places where the person's memory is venerated. Here, the parallel with the Bab becomes instructive, and also a parallel with Baha'u'llah, Muhammad, et al. Yet we have no indication from either Christian sources or non-Christian sources that the followers of Jesus venerated his deceased body or his burial place. Instead, we have narratives which all agree that, ultimately, he had no burial place, because his body rose.

If the "resurrection" was just a happy spiritual perception of Jesus' greatness (which isn't what "resurrection" meant at that time or had ever meant), then why is it that followers of Confucius, Muhammad, Guru Nanak, the Bab, Baha'u'llah, and other religious founders have burial shrines but Jesus just has this funny story about an empty tomb, appearing to people with nail wounds in his body, and ascending up to heaven? Did the Confucians, Muslims, Sikhs, Babis, and Baha'is not spiritually perceive the true greatness and eternal nature of their founders? If they did, why didn't they come up with stories about their "resurrection," fail to venerate their tombs, and forget where they buried them?

The point is that the realization that a religious teacher was great and eternal in spirit doesn't explain why his tomb would be--by all accounts--empty, he would appear to his followers, and they would refer to what had happened to him using a Jewish theological term that simply meant rising bodily from the dead. If this realization were sufficient to produce such results, we would expect that the same realization about these other religious founders would produce similar--rather than opposite--results. No one says these other religious founders were bodily raised from death. And their graves were and are known and venerated.

Fourth, many of the allegorical readings just seem so glib and inadequate to me. Something like this just makes my jaw drop:

"As to the resurrection of the body of Christ three days subsequent to His departure: This signifies the divine teachings and spiritual religion of His Holiness Christ, which constitute His spiritual body, which is living and perpetual forevermore."

????????

Really? The Christians of the first generation made Sunday, which became for them "the Lord's Day," more sacred than the divinely appointed Sabbath because they'd come up with an allegorical story about the day in order to represent that Christ's teachings were still good even though he didn't fulfill the expected messianic role but had been executed by the Romans?

Peter, the 12, Paul, and more than 500 others (1 Cor. 15) affirmed they'd seen the risen Christ as a way of affirming that things like the Sermon on the Mount were of enduring value?

Etc., etc.

While such an allegorical reading might work if all we had were a bland early Christian understanding that Jesus still lived after the Crucifixion. But what we actually have are radical claims by the early disciples that this dead man rose, left the tomb, appeared to them, ascended to heaven--where he now reigned as Lord, etc., and we have a whole culture of early Christianity built around this idea (e.g., Paul's letters, the Lord's Day, the Lord's Supper...). The alleged allegorical meaning of the resurrection isn't one derived from the New Testament texts but one forced onto them, and not even very well, since none of the specifics are accounted for.

Perhaps I'm expressing myself too forcefully. Obviously I find the dissonance here frustrating. The allegorical explanation given to the Resurrection of Christ seems to me so vague and simplistic, when the realities it must account for are so complex and concrete.

I don't know that I can fit Christ, as the New Testament forces me to see him, with Baha'u'llah, as he forces me to see him.

What set Jesus apart from other claimed messiahs who failed to free the Jews according to prophecy was that his disciples experienced him as literally alive again and believed he had ascended to God's right hand, where he was now the Lord of the earth who would someday come to fulfill the rest of his messianic mission. If I were to reject that, what would be the basis for not seeing Jesus as another failed messiah? If Christ's after-death following--Christianity--turned out to be based on theft of his body from the tomb, the hallucinations of his disciples, or their lies, what sort of basis would that be for accepting him as a manifestation of God, of whom Baha'u'llah would be the second coming?

But if I do accept the early Christian witness of Christ's real resurrection (as I do), then what am I to make of Baha'u'llah's claim to be at least equal to Christ? How can he be equal to the one man without parallel--the one who was resurrected? How can Baha'u'llah say he is the second coming of Christ if Christ is literally risen and therefore literally to come again and resurrect others? And how can Baha'u'llah equate Jesus with the Son but himself with the greater one--the Father? This would make Baha'u'llah seem dangerously misguided.

YET--and here is the reason I'm engaging this mess at all--the voice I hear in some of Baha'u'llah's writings, like the first few verses of the Hidden Words--that's God's voice. And the vision he lays out for a united world is the most timely message I could possibly imagine. In some senses, mankind is already one, and the longer it takes for us to realize that and put it into practice, the more needless suffering there will be.

I'll try to write again in a couple days to spell out what I see as the core argument that Christ's disciples found his tomb again, experienced him as alive again, and believed categorically that he had been literally raised from the dead.

God bless,

Don
 
Old 01-08-2012, 12:08 AM   #8
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Okay, before I go to sleep, let me lay on the line what my real fear is here. I'm afraid maybe I'm trying to integrate things that don't integrate. Maybe Christ and Baha'u'llah can never really be integrated, and to the extent that one is accepted the other can only be accepted in a qualified way.

I realize that Baha'is accept Christ and see no problem with integrating the two. So, what, you might wonder, is my problem here? I'm afraid the Christ being integrated so easily with Baha'u'llah isn't the real, or maybe isn't the full, Christ. A Christ resurrected only in his timeless teachings is not the Christ of the letters of Paul (our earliest source--from the very first generation of believers) and of all the early accounts of his life (the Gospels); or if it is the same Christ, it is just a fragment of him, and not the whole--the mortal, crucified Jesus without the more important post-mortal resurrected Lord.

While I want to integrate Baha'u'llah with Christ, I want to really integrate them, not to pretend to have done so by lopping off the parts of Christ that don't fit. To integrate a straw Jesus with Baha'u'llah would not be a success but a farce.

So, I want to be sure I'm getting Jesus right, and not compromising on what the witness of his disciples actually was. There's a lot at stake here.

With that, I must sleep!

Don
 
Old 01-08-2012, 04:41 AM   #9
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OUch, you got me......

I haven't read everything, I woke early with things to write, and I AM guilty of generalizing about intellectualism and tilting at it at opportunities that aren't there. We have snipers often who do this with great and sneaky fervor and my skin is thin since Oct when I had a stroke AND a vision that I feel I waited all my life for... You then rise to write more, and I fight going back to bed, then now 20 lbs of loving cat....oh the impediments.....and I'm still trying to get to my subject which is that each NOW in this day has a divine right to mysticism.........but.....

You are wonderfully sincere and transparent. Your fear of the integration of two major fears is a precious thing. GOOD for you I am drawn to say. Good for your fear and concern. Seek not only here, and do not stop. Meet Baha'is as well. Follow your heart and don't let fear rule you, though there will be fear.

There are 2 stations you are probably juggling with. There is the station of the Manifestation which is equal, They are the same, but the station of the human is one of differentiation where They had a personality and that of Their milieu and context which is different. They are separate.

I cannot find the verse, but Baha'u'llah has said if you had recognized your own Prophet, then you would have recognized Me.

Don, I feel very moved by the sincerity and specialness you project. May your search bring you your heart's desire...............CP
 
Old 01-08-2012, 07:36 AM   #10
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Independent investiigator wrote:

The disciples who moved him would have known where the body was, and it strains credulity to add to this speculation that they moved the body that they would now keep this information from all the other disciples and let them believe the body had risen from the dead.

My response:

It doesn't strain credulity in my view though to say that Joseph and Nicodemus were secret disciples of Jesus..as it says in the Gospel.. The disciples apparently never contacted them about the remains of Jesus that we know of according to the Gospels..

The parallel to the secreted remains of the Bab is instructive.. The remains were hidden and moved from place to place over forty years until finally laid to rest and interred on Mount Carmel.

That's forty years...

What happened in Jerusalem forty years after Jesus was laid in the tomb? Jerusalem was destroyed around 71 AD and the Jews were expelled from the area.. The Temple was destroyed and in it's place was Aelia Capitolina...dedicated to Zeus:

Aelia came from Hadrian's nomen gentile, Aelius, while Capitolina meant that the new city was dedicated to Jupiter Capitolinus, to whom a temple was built on the site of the former Jewish temple, the Temple Mount.[5] The city was without walls, protected by a light garrison of the Tenth Legion, during the Late Roman Period. The detachment at Jerusalem, which apparently encamped all over the city’s western hill, was responsible for preventing Jews from returning to the city. Roman enforcement of this prohibition continued through the 4th century. The Latin name Aelia is the source of the Arabic term Iliyā' (إلياء), an early Islamic name for Jerusalem.

Aelia Capitolina - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


With the destruction of Jerusalem and the diaspora of the Jewish people all traces of the resting place of Jesus remains would likely have remained a mystery.

Of course Christians today are still fighting among themselves over possession of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem..between Armenians and Orthodox Christians a fist fight broke out a few years ago:

Fist fight at Holy Sepulchre - timesofmalta.com

Independent wrote:

Fourth, many of the allegorical readings just seem so glib and inadequate to me. Something like this just makes my jaw drop:

"As to the resurrection of the body of Christ three days subsequent to His departure: This signifies the divine teachings and spiritual religion of His Holiness Christ, which constitute His spiritual body, which is living and perpetual forevermore."

My reply:

except Paul apparently wrote that the believers themselves constituted the body of Christ...


COLOSSIANS 1:24 NKJ
24 . . . the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, which is the church,

1 CORINTHIANS 12:27 NKJ
27 Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually.

EPHESIANS 5:30 NKJ
30 For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones.

So how can your "jaw drop" to accept:

"This signifies the divine teachings and spiritual religion of His Holiness Christ, which constitute His spiritual body, which is living and perpetual forevermore."

Last edited by arthra; 01-08-2012 at 07:50 AM.
 
Old 01-08-2012, 06:13 PM   #11
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Quote:
Already in Paul's letters we see a belief in a literal resurrection.
Paul does not speak of a physical resurrection.

As I pointed out to other Christians on this forum, check out Richard Carrier's work, where he extensively deals with the empty tomb and Paul:

Spiritual Body FAQ

Last edited by ahanu; 01-08-2012 at 06:23 PM.
 
Old 01-08-2012, 07:30 PM   #12
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For example, in a previous discussion on the resurrection I noted the debates between the Church Fathers and those they saw as "heretics":

Consider the Treatise on the Resurrection, a Valentinian work. The text uses Pauline language, such as Christ "swallowed death," that is, exchanged the corruptible for the incorruptible (1 Corinthians 15: 53-54). The text reaches the following conclusion:

"So then, as the apostle said of him, 'we have suffered with him, and arisen with him, and ascended with him'" (TRs 45: 23-27).

The language here is (Deutero-)Pauline (Rom. 8: 17; Eph. 2: 4-6; Col. 2: 12; 3: 1-3).

Emergent Catholicism had a hell of a hard time trying to combat this argument, so instead of focusing on theological arguments, they focused on Paul's role in the chain of tradition; however, Valentinians could pull the tradition card too.

In fact, one Church Father said Paul was the apostle of the heretics, because of how these heretics would use Paul's words to support a spiritual resurrection.

Richard Carrier has a great discussion on Paul's phrase "flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God" in 1 Corinthians 15. As you already know, many orthodox Christians will say "flesh and blood" does not deny the resurrection of a physical body (as the heretics assumed).

Check out what Richard Carrier has to say about that below:

Q: You say "no flesh can enter heaven" because Paul says "flesh and blood cannot receive the kingdom of god" (p. 135), but I've heard that the phrase "flesh and blood" was a common metaphor for a mortal existence, so should we take Paul literally here?

A: The phrase "flesh and blood" can only be a metaphor for a mortal existence if flesh and blood are mortal. If Paul believed flesh and blood could be immortal, then "flesh and blood" would no longer represent mortality to him, any more than "white and black" would. It therefore makes no sense for Paul to say that "flesh and blood cannot inherit" unless he in fact means flesh and blood cannot inherit. If he meant "flesh and blood can inherit the kingdom of God, once they are transformed" or "once they are infused with the Spirit of Christ" or whatever one imagines, then that is what Paul would have said. That he didn't is the very point we observe. And when this fact is placed in the context of all the other clues I collect in my chapter, it all points toward the same conclusion: Paul means flesh and blood cannot inherit immortality, precisely because flesh and blood belong to a mortal existence.

Which of course brings us to the real issue: when interpreting words and phrases, context is everything. And the context Paul clearly establishes is that of different bodies of differing composition (see pp. 126-29, 132-35, 151). This becomes even clearer when we examine everything Paul says about the flesh, which leads us to conclude that Paul believed flesh and blood don't inherit "the kingdom" because only the spirit can fully inherit God's rule (Philippians 3:3, Galatians 5:17, Romans 7-8). That's why Paul says we ought to deliver sinners "unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the Day of the Lord Jesus" (Corinthians 5:5). And with many other hints like that, Paul presents the idea that the flesh must be discarded in exchange for the spirit (e.g. pp. 139-47).

All other uses of the phrase "flesh and blood" in the New Testament confirm this. When "Jesus answered and said to Peter, 'You are blessed, Simon Bar-Jonah: for flesh and blood has not revealed it to you, but my Father who is in heaven" (Matt. 16:17), this certainly means "mortal beings" didn't reveal it, that instead spiritual beings did (as in Gal. 1:1-16 and Eph. 6:12), but that is the very contrast Paul intends: people of "flesh and blood," whose bodies are mortal, vs. spiritual beings, whose bodies are not. Thus, "as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, [God] also Himself likewise took part of the same, that through death He might destroy him that had the power of death--that is, the Devil" (Heb. 2:14). The very idea expressed here is that Jesus was flesh and his flesh died, so he cannot now be flesh--for that wouldn't make much sense, and is never what any epistle says (pp. 147-54). Instead, "flesh and blood" stood for Christ's body on earth, in the bread and wine of communion (6:47-59), not his actual resurrection body, which was "spiritual" and "indestructible" (1 Cor. 15:35-49), unlike the bread and wine that perish in being consumed, just as his previous body of flesh was consumed by the grave.


I just wanted to give you an example of Carrier's work from the link I posted.

Anyway, have fun trying to disprove this.

Last edited by ahanu; 01-08-2012 at 08:18 PM.
 
Old 01-10-2012, 01:23 PM   #13
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Ahanu,

I've seen your other threads on the resurrection, and I know that your usual way of posting--at least on this topic--is not to make your own arguments, but to provide numerous quotes and links. This actually makes dialogue impossible, since such dialogue can only occur between persons on the board, not other, outside interlocutors. If you're trying to shut up people with questions and preempt actual dialogue, this is probably a good way of doing it. Otherwise, you may want to consider setting forth specific points that you believe and in your own words (even if you're deriving them from others). That would provide something to discuss, rather than a merely polemical "point scoring" that you do when you post something from scholars who happen to agree with you (and avoid the many who do not) and then say "Have fun trying to disprove this."

As for Paul's "flesh and blood" quote, it--like all teachings, whether of Paul, Christ, or Baha'u'llah--needs to be taken in the context of the author's larger body of thought, as represented in his own texts. As I'll get to when I finally have time to lay out a large post with what I see as the crucial issues, Paul believed that when the righteous die they are "with Christ"--i.e., they have souls that go live with him immediately. Hence, when he's talking about the righteous dead awaiting eventual resurrection he means something else, and his writings allow us to determine what that something else is. More about this later, including the specific passages from Paul.

In the mean time, perhaps you'd like to get your hands on the most extensive and authoritative work on the resurrection of Christ, N. T. Wright's _The Resurrection of the Son of God_, and have fun trying (for the rest of your life) to disprove it. ;-)

_______
[Edited to add this:]
Ahanu,

Sorry if I'm getting polemical in this post. That's not the direction I want to go. I really don't want this to be about oneupmanship. We could trade sources for the other to "try to disprove," and we'd go absolutely nowhere.

My point in coming here isn't to try to talk Baha'is out of their beliefs about the Resurrection. It's to lay out my own conundrum, and to express, as much for myself as for others, what I see as the dilemma, and how intractable the problem seems to me.

If it really is the case that the earliest Christians did not believe in an empty tomb and a raising and transformation of Jesus' earthly body, I would want to know that. I'm convinced they believed in just that. And I think Wright makes the case here quite powerfully. I've read some of the things you posted previously in response to another Christian on the forum--e.g., the review by Bob Price (whom I know). I could explain why I think Price's response (which has about as many words as Wright's book does pages) is quite inadequate, but this would just be a case of trying to refute what you've posted, and polemics are not what I'm after here. I don't care one whit whether I can show you to be wrong or have imaginary debate judges (or real lurkers) think my case is stronger. I'm here to wrestle an issue--and to try to assess from the responses here what I may be overlooking and whether others can come up with things that can help me reconcile what for me at present is simply irreconcilable.

Thanks for your input on this.
____

More soon!

Don

Last edited by IndependentInvestigator; 01-10-2012 at 01:43 PM. Reason: To avoid being polemical
 
Old 01-10-2012, 01:24 PM   #14
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Cire,

Thank you so much for your kindness. I really appreciate it, and am sorry if I was a bit harsh in calling you to task.

I'll respond more soon as I can find the time.

Thanks!

Don
 
Old 01-10-2012, 02:41 PM   #15
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No, I do go off on intellectualism!

The Baha'i position is that the Bible is the intact Word of God, but to me that does not mean that it has not been tampered with. I think despite the tampering that the meanings can be found. Have you read this:

( » The Resurrection) johnshelbyspong.com

I think it is rather incredible, and though Spong definitely has sponge for brain and is ridiculous in the extremes of his claims/ideas that work is rather incredible. I understand it is not original to him and others have come up with the same conclusions.

I do indeed think that it is possible the earliest Christians did NOT believe in the bodily resurrection. I think that the number of Christians when Christ was crucified was tiny. I think it is very likely that leaders may have interpreted the events literally to convince and teach others. On top of that you must realize that the original community of Christians was destroyed by the Jewish revold in AD 70. The distances to travel, lack of reliable communication make it easy to consider misunderstandings................................. .In this day an age literal belief is equated with piety. Why would it be different 2000 years ago. However every world religion except the Baha'i Faith now believe their teachings literally......ALL of THEM expect a literal fulfillment of their prophecies! Literalism is a symptom of decay.
 
Old 01-10-2012, 02:54 PM   #16
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Independent,

Independent wrote:

My point in coming here isn't to try to talk Baha'is out of their beliefs about the Resurrection. It's to lay out my own conundrum, and to express, as much for myself as for others, what I see as the dilemma, and how intractable the problem seems to me.


Many of us Baha'is here have been past Christians so already know about the standard Christian doctrines. So they are not all that novel to us.

My suggestion to you would be to "lay out your own conundrum" on a Christian board where they might be more appreciated.

If you have any questions about Baha'i views on the subject go ahead and post them...

I notice though you've mentioned N.T. Wright a number of times

Would you say a fair description of him would be as follows:

an Anglican bishop and a leading New Testament scholar. He is published as N. T. Wright when writing academic work, or Tom Wright when writing for a more popular readership. His books include What St Paul Really Said and Simply Christian. Wright was the Bishop of Durham in the Church of England from 2003 until his retirement in 2010.

Among modern New Testament scholars, Wright is an important representative of more conservative Christian views compared to more liberal Christians such as his friend Marcus Borg.[2] In particular, he is associated with the Open Evangelical position, the New Perspective on Paul and the historical Jesus. He has promoted more traditional views about Jesus' bodily resurrection[2] and second coming[3] as well as on homosexuality.[4]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/N._T._Wright



Quite frankly I'm not all that interested in N.T. Wright.. Christians have enough to do I suppose in deciding who they want to accept or "buy into".. It really isn't a priority for me.
 
Old 01-10-2012, 03:04 PM   #17
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Spong is, as I think you know, a would-be reformer within Christianity, and one who reinterprets just about any literal claim made in the Bible.

Baha'is believe in Christ's Virgin Birth, no?

If you're impressed with his critique of literal resurrection, you should see what he does with the Virgin Birth: Amazon.com: Born of a Woman: A Bishop Rethinks the Virgin Birth and the Treatment of Women by a Male-Dominated Church (9780060675233): John Shelby Spong: Books The Virgin Birth, as he discusses, emerges much later than and in more dubious sources than the claim of resurrection.

On the resurrection, Spong misrepresents the data. Take this:

Quote:
"Paul did not envision the Resurrection as Jesus being restored to life in this world but as Jesus being raised into God."
Spong has quoted Paul saying Jesus is now seated on God's right hand but ignored the places Paul says that Jesus was the firstborn from the dead, had been resurrected, etc. (e.g. 1 Cor 15:20, Col. 1:18). And he poses a false dichotomy--why can't Jesus be literally resurrected and raised to heaven--precisely as the gospel narratives all say?

Or take this:

Quote:
"When Mark, the first Gospel, was written the Risen Christ never appears. The last time Jesus is seen comes when his deceased body is taken from the cross and laid in the tomb. Mark’s account of the Resurrection presents us with the narrative of mourning women confronting an empty tomb, meeting a messenger who tells them that Jesus has been raised and asking these women to convey to the disciples that Jesus will meet them in Galilee. Mark then concludes his Gospel with a picture of these women fleeing in fear, saying nothing to anyone (16:1-8). So abrupt was this ending that people began to write new endings to what they thought was Mark’s incomplete story. Two of those endings are actually reproduced in the King James Version of the Bible as verses 9-20. But thankfully, these later creations have been removed from the text of Mark in recent Bibles and placed into footnotes. The sure fact of New Testament scholarship is that Mark’s Gospel ended without the Risen Christ ever being seen by anyone."
This is false. No one is sure how Mark's gospel originally ended. Ancient manuscripts frequently lost their beginnings and endings, and the original ending is believed by many, if not most, scholars to have been lost. See: Gospel of Mark - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

However, what we do have of the text has the living Jesus prophesying that he'll meet the disciples in Galilee after his death and resurrection (Mark 14:28), and this is exactly what the women at the tomb are told will happen (Mark 16:7). It stands to reason that the original ending of Mark included this event. And, notably, Mark--our earliest narrative of Jesus' life--has an empty tomb (Mark 16:5-6).

John Shelby Spong is not a dispassionate biblical scholar but a very liberal minister who wants to remake Christianity to conform it to modern secular thought.

Don
 
Old 01-10-2012, 03:39 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by arthra View Post
My suggestion to you would be to "lay out your own conundrum" on a Christian board where they might be more appreciated.
Arthra,

I'm puzzled that you'd say Christian boards will provide a more congenial environment for me to discuss Christ and Baha'u'llah than would a Baha'i board. While Baha'is have an interest in both Jesus and Baha'u'llah, Christians generally have an interest only in the first of these and most would only use a thread on the topic to attack Baha'u'llah. Perhaps your suggestion was meant as a joke?

What I see as the evidence for Christ's resurrection is the root of my questions about Baha'u'llah, and as such it seems to me that a Baha'i board is really the place to raise such an issue.


Quote:
If you have any questions about Baha'i views on the subject go ahead and post them...
Arthra, please search above and on the other resurrection thread, where I have done just that.

Also notice this portion of the post to which you're responding:

"I'm here to wrestle an issue--and to try to assess from the responses here what I may be overlooking and whether others can come up with things that can help me reconcile what for me at present is simply irreconcilable."

As I indicated there, I'm open to potential reconciliations of what now seems irreconcilable to me and will take what's said here and put it into the hopper and see if it helps.



Quote:
Quite frankly I'm not all that interested in N.T. Wright.
To each his own. I'm not saying you should be interested in N. T. Wright. I'm saying that I find his arguments persuasive and that such arguments are a, if not the, primary reason why I have trouble seeing Christ and Baha'u'llah as equal.

I would be really, really, really interested in talking with Baha'is who've read Wright's book to hear how they think his data can be reconciled with the Baha'i allegorical understanding of Christ's resurrection. In fact, I'd rather have that discussion than post here, since it might better get to the heart of my issues.

So, while you may not be interested in discussing Wright's arguments, if you know any Baha'is who may have read Wright's book and would be willing to discuss them with me, please let me know. I'd be willing to PM you my e-mail address so I could be put in touch with them.


By the way, one last thing. I couldn't help noticing the sarcasm, not at any of my arguments but at me personally, at the beginning of your post.
I'm not sure why you felt the need to aim sarcasm (at the start of your post) at me personally and at my wrestlings. My only guess is that this provides the key:

Quote:
Many of us Baha'is here have been past Christians so already know about the standard Christian doctrines. So they are not all that novel to us.
This suggests that perhaps you think I'm here to try to educate you in Christian belief and not sincere in laying out my dilemma. If you do think that, I can better understand your response. But it would still be just as wrong. My dilemma is real, and I am open to reconciling Baha'u'llah and Christ more fully than I can now. I want to. But, as I said above, I can only do that if I see for myself that the reconciliation works. That's the reason for my wanting to lay out in full force what I see as the root problem.

If my wrestling with this issue, laying out the problem as I see it and soliciting ideas on how to reconcile Christ and Baha'u'llah doesn't interest you, I won't feel bad about it if you choose to ignore my posts.

BTW, just to reiterate, if you (anyone here), know Baha'is you think may have read N. T. Wright's book on the resurrection, please, please put me in touch with them. I would love to talk with someone who could fully see my dilemma and may have their own ways of settling it.

Have a good evening.

Don
 
Old 01-10-2012, 03:54 PM   #19
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Arthra,

It looks like from your later post that you may not be interested in discussing this with me, but in case you still are, you wrote:

Quote:
It doesn't strain credulity in my view though to say that Joseph and Nicodemus were secret disciples of Jesus..as it says in the Gospel.. The disciples apparently never contacted them about the remains of Jesus that we know of according to the Gospels..
Joseph and Nicodemus were disciples. This was secret from the authorities but from the other disciples. After all, it was they who secured Jesus' body from Pilate and gave it to the other disciples.

There's no reason to think they then lost all contact with other disciples as Christianity grew. And it does indeed strain credulity to think that if a misunderstanding that Jesus had been raised from the dead resulted from their hiding the body, and this misunderstanding then became one of the disciples' core teachings, that they or others close to them would have corrected this misunderstanding.

Note also that Jews were required to to do certain things with human remains at set times after death. It is entirely implausible that they would have hidden the body from other disciples, preventing them from venerating his body and honoring him by carrying out the required customs.

You also wrote:

Quote:
My reply:

except Paul apparently wrote that the believers themselves constituted the body of Christ...
One could use the same argument to claim that Jesus never had a physical body at all, since his "body" merely consisted of those who spiritually believed in him. The fact that Paul uses the body of Christ as a metaphor for the church does not mean he doesn't believe Christ has a risen body. As I've referenced above, Paul says Christ was buried and then "risen from the dead"--after which he and many others saw him, says that Jesus was "the firstborn from the dead," uses the term "resurrection" regarding what happened to Christ--which in the context of first century Judaism--and particularly to a trained Pharisee like Paul--meant precisely that one's body was raised from death and made immortal.

The metaphor of the church as the body of Christ was so powerful to Christians precisely because they believed Christ was the "firstborn from the dead" and thus that they would eventually join him in his new resurrected life when he raised them from death. By being baptized, a symbolic death and rebirth, they received the Spirit and thus a foretaste of the ultimate new life they would have in Christ. Thus, just as they would ultimately participate in receiving new bodies, through his resurrecting power, they now had new life as his symbolic body.

This is an argument that one can find in critical biblical interpretation and can sustain from the Pauline corpus as a whole. But where can one find in critical scholarship the argument that Christ's resurrection body was simply identical to the church? And what, under such an interpretation, would one do with Christ appearing to people, being the firstborn from the dead, etc.? The Christian church appeared to Paul on the road to Damascus? Etc.

Cheers,

Don
 
Old 01-10-2012, 04:01 PM   #20
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Ahanu, I haven't yet responded to your posts, but will as I'm able.

All, thank you for your comments thus far. I still need to lay out what I think is the gist of the problem (or my problem, if you will), for input. But, if I'm going to be responsible and do the work ahead of me, I ought to largely lay this aside until the weekend.

I'm sorry to have (apparently) ruffled some feelings. If you knew me, you'd know I wouldn't do that intentionally. I have the greatest love and respect for Baha'is and hope, under Abdul-Baha's definition of a Baha'i as one who loves the world and serves it, that I am one. Nor do I have any interest in converting anyone away from such a beautiful faith centered on as high an ideal as I can imagine--the oneness of mankind. Please be patient with me as I try to explore the very genuine conundrum before me. Or, if you prefer, I don't mind if those uninterested in the topic just ignore this thread.

God bless,

Don
 
Old 01-10-2012, 06:33 PM   #21
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I am not a scholar. But I think the Bahai understanding is that because the prophets all proceed from the one God thay are more or less ranked equally. The virgin birth is considered a miracle and the the resurrection should not indicate that Jesus is superior even if it was literal. Abdul'Baha explains that our physical bodies are just garments or cages in fact. So if Jesus lost his old cage and was given another by God just before ascending to the next world then that doesnt really prove anything. Likewise you can say Moses parted the red sea and so he was superior because no other prophet did that.
The problem with these sort of ideas is that they are immature. They are like children saying my dad can beat up your dad because he can lift 60kg weights or some such. That is not how it works in Gods eyes IMO.
It is a subtle thing where only the pure heart have the insight to recognise God and grow close to him. If you treat religion as entirly a process of schollarly pursuit then you will miss the point. There are schollars who have studied religious events their whole lives and grown no closer to God by doing so and remain cold. That is because they lack the heat and the attraction to consider religion with any heart or feeling. The two must come together if we are to recognise the meaning of religion and not treat it only as a scientific process.
Anyway that is my rant because I dont have any knowledge about proving that Jesus was resurrected spiritually or literally. Aside from the fact that the stories to me could easily be taken as parables.
One night they are hiding from the Jews and Jesus suddenly knocks on their door? There is no description of how Jesus enters the house with his physical body and how he leaves considering that they are hiding and the door is locked.
Why do they have absolutely nothing to say to him if that is him present in body. THe story is described as a parable IMO and same as the story of how the two men in Gallalee are randomly staring at the sky. Who are the men in white cloaks who go and start telling them why are they staring at the sky? Also the men have nothing to respond to such an amazing event the likes of which has never been seen in the entire history of the human race. And they have no response to the men who ask them why are they staring up at the sky? . They do not feal as historical events. And if you look at the ascending into the cloud and how he will "return the same way", it makes perfect sense to consider it as such.
To me those resembles a parable and not actually historical descriptions. I mean as Abdul'Baha says, they are there to impart a meaning(s).

Last edited by LordOfGoblins; 01-10-2012 at 06:37 PM.
 
Old 01-10-2012, 06:43 PM   #22
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WHy would God mix parables in with real historical narrative you might ask?
Well I can think of some reasons.
(1) A test to absolutist schollars who try to take religion at the value of the word rather than with their hearts "eye".
(2) So that the next religion can explain misconceptions of the previous ones and re-align people to Gods will.
(3) Because religion is about insight and things are rarely always that simple. It is not just supposed to be about people reading some book and saying "well those stories are nice". It is more than that. It is about trying to understand what the religion is about and what it is trying to teach us...
and I am sure there are more wisdoms...
just my opinion.
 
Old 01-10-2012, 07:09 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by LordOfGoblins View Post
I am not a scholar. But I think the Bahai understanding is that because the prophets all proceed from the one God thay are more or less ranked equally. The virgin birth is considered a miracle and the the resurrection should not indicate that Jesus is superior even if it was literal.
Ah--an interesting point, LoG: Jesus' virgin birth is not seen in the Baha'i faith as making him superior to the other manifestations, just as in Islam it is not seen as making him superior to Muhammad. So, by the same token, even a literal resurrection would not necessarily mark him as different in kind than the other prophets, much like how in Islam Jesus' bodily ascension to heaven doesn't make him somehow uniquely divine.

I can see, then, how even a literal resurrection of Jesus would work within the Baha'i faith, and could work in Islam. I'll have to think about this more--whether I would draw the same implications from this or different implications.

An issue that seems to me to still exist would be that of the second coming. Belief in the second coming of Jesus was bound up with belief in his resurrection: he is said to have announced his second coming after his resurrection and in connection with his ascension, stating then that he would return in like manner as he left. So, in the case of his resurrection and ascension, we would expect him to come, not in the form of a new, distinct person, but descending as he had ascended, and with his resurrected body.

So, while Jesus' superiority may not be entailed by his literal resurrection, I think a literal second coming is, which would seem to preclude Baha'u'llah from fulfilling this.


Quote:
Likewise you can say Moses parted the red sea and so he was superior because no other prophet did that.
Well put.

Part of the reason that the idea of a literal resurrection of Jesus makes him seem special to me is that early Christians understood his resurrection to be the first of many: it was like he was the one who opened the door to the new life of the resurrection. On this understanding, Jesus' resurrection would be significant not just because it's a super-cool miracle, like parting the Red Sea, but because Jesus would be a key to humankind's eternal destiny--which would certainly make him seem like something more than other prophets.


Quote:
It is a subtle thing where only the pure heart have the insight to recognise God and grow close to him. If you treat religion as entirly a process of schollarly pursuit then you will miss the point. There are schollars who have studied religious events their whole lives and grown no closer to God by doing so and remain cold. That is because they lack the heat and the attraction to consider religion with any heart or feeling. The two must come together if we are to recognise the meaning of religion and not treat it only as a scientific process.
Yes--I agree, and it's good to be reminded. My engagement with Baha'u'llah needs to be much more than intellectual if I am to truly understand him and his significance for me and for the world. I see many remarkable truths that he taught--and I will strive to live those, along with those Christ taught. Perhaps in so doing my perception in all these things will be clearer.

Quote:
Anyway that is my rant because I dont have any knowledge about proving that Jesus was resurrected spiritually or literally. Aside from the fact that the stories to me could easily be taken as parables.
One night they are hiding from the Jews and Jesus suddenly knocks on their door? There is no description of how Jesus enters the house with his physical body and how he leaves considering that they are hiding and the door is locked.
Why do they have absolutely nothing to say to him if that is him present in body. THe story is described as a parable IMO and same as the story of how the two men in Gallalee are randomly staring at the sky. Who are the men in white cloaks who go and start telling them why are they staring at the sky? Also the men have nothing to respond to such an amazing event the likes of which has never been seen in the entire history of the human race. And they have no response to the men who ask them why are they staring up at the sky? . They do not feal as such.
To me those resembles a parable and not actually historical descriptions. I mean as Abdul'Baha says, they are there to impart a meaning.
Certainly the story of the men on the road to Emmaus is meant to be applied to the individual believer (though it may also have been understood as having actually happened). John Dominic Crossan said, "Emmaus never happened. Emmaus always happens." Whether it happened or not, it's told in the Gospels to give a message about discipleship.

I have a harder time, though, with your idea that the narrative shifts from pretty much historical to almost completely allegorical.

Let's look at Luke's Gospel. Luke wrote it as Part I of a two-part work, with the Gospel being Part I--about the life of Jesus, and the Acts of the Apostles being Part II--about the life of the church after Jesus (as the introductions to Luke and Acts show). There is good evidence for the historicity of much of Acts--where it can be checked on, it discusses real places and people, etc.

So, on a strictly allegorical reading of the Resurrection narratives, Luke gives history all through his gospel, then jumps into pure allegory, then shifts back to history.

I know you defended the idea in your following post that the author might shift to near-pure allegory, but I'm just not seeing it. Ending a history with an allegory is not only discontinous, and unparsimonious (needlessly complex), it leaves out a crucial part of the history that's been told. What happened to Jesus' body? This is not an insignificant question. Jewish custom was to care for the body in a certain way, and the narrative includes details about this. But then that abruptly stops with a story about the body being gone and Jesus appearing to people. These appearances aren't merely allegorical, since we're told about that in a more matter-of-fact context by Paul, who claims just a vision himself, and somewhat in Acts. And then we have no tomb for Jesus, no veneration of his resting place, and not even ever--from Christian or non-Christian sources--any talk about the post-Easter Christians visiting his tomb, quite unlike Muhammad, the Bab, and Baha'u'llah.

I do think the case for an empty tomb and a belief in Jesus' physical resurrection among his disciples is quite strong.

However, you've given reason why this may not necessarily imply that Jesus would be superior to the other manifestations. I think your argument has some force. Let me think about this more. I think the resurrection may have important implications for the idea of the second coming. However, you may have dealt with my issue about the resurrection sufficiently that I won't need to post the more extensive arguments I had in mind.

Let me ponder this.

Thank you so much for your thoughts, O oddly named Lord of Goblins! ;-)

Don
 
Old 01-10-2012, 07:47 PM   #24
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Ahanu,

I've seen your other threads on the resurrection, and I know that your usual way of posting--at least on this topic--is not to make your own arguments, but to provide numerous quotes and links.
Ooo! I like you!

Quote:
If you're trying to shut up people with questions and preempt actual dialogue, this is probably a good way of doing it. Otherwise, you may want to consider setting forth specific points that you believe and in your own words (even if you're deriving them from others). That would provide something to discuss, rather than a merely polemical "point scoring" that you do when you post something from scholars who happen to agree with you (and avoid the many who do not) and then say "Have fun trying to disprove this."
Avoid? Okay. I will sum up an argument by Dr. Matt McCormick in "The Salem Witch Trials and the Evidence for the Resurrection" that I think addresses the root of the problem. Why? You will see shortly.

Quote:
In the mean time, perhaps you'd like to get your hands on the most extensive and authoritative work on the resurrection of Christ, N. T. Wright's _The Resurrection of the Son of God_, and have fun trying (for the rest of your life) to disprove it. ;-)
While I do not have time to read N.T. Wright's book, I do have time to read summaries of his arguments. N.T. Wright defends the historical resurrection of Jesus Christ. The strongest evidence comes from Mark, Matthew, Luke, John, and the writings of Paul too. Most Christian apologists (Lee Strobel, William Craig, and so on) claim there were many eyewitnesses to the resurrection; they claim the empty tomb was well-known; they claim if Jesus was not resurrected, then it would be near impossible to fake such a story; they claim if the story was false, then it would of been exposed. After listening to these Christian apologists, one would think their historical argument is the only acceptable hypothesis. McCormick notes that one of N.T. Wright's prominent arguments is as follows: Wright claims a transphysical resurrection was shocking, new, and unheard of when considering other ideologies during Jesus' time. How did the early Christians come up with the idea?

Wright, as quoted by McCormick, ponders where the origins of the tranphysical resurrected Jesus came from:

"Almost all early Christians known to us believed that their ultimate hope was the resurrection of the body. There is no spectrum such as in Judaism . . . the early Christian belief in resurrection had a much more precise shape and content than anything we find in Judaism . . . Where did this idea come from? Not from any ancient paganism known to us; and not, or not straightforwardly, from any ancient Judaism."

Elsewhere Wright shoves every non-supernatural hypothesis to the side, and then he concludes:

"the origins of Christianity, the reason why this new movement came into being and took the unexpected form it did, and particularly the strange mutations it produced within the Jewish hope for resurrection and the Jewish hope for a Messiah, are best explained by saying that something happened, two or three days after Jesus' death, for which the accounts in the four Gospels are the least inadequate expression we have."

Should we accept the idea Jesus was resurrected with a transphyical body because it was not part of their culture, including religious and philosophical traditions? In other words, are Christians incapable of creating a transphysical resurrection without Jesus actually appearing to them in flesh and blood? Since this idea was clearly in the works of the Church Fathers of that period, we are to believe no one could have invented it without the event actually happening. The Christian apologist may ask, "How else could it have originated?" Indeed, I imagine a big smile emerging on his face, as he thinks of how no other hypothesis can explain the origins of the transphyical resurrection of Jesus, the empty tomb, and so on. Nothing else comes close. Take a look for yourself:



Is their argument bullet proof? No. The problem with Christian apologists and their arguments is that they reject "comparable supernatural claims," writes McCormick, "even when the evidence is of a better quanity and quality than what we have for Jesus." I know of no Christian apologist or Christian that would accept what happened at the Salem Witch Trials, which took place between 1692 and 1693. Numerous people were hanged for witchcraft, because people accused them of being possessed by devils for their cruel supernatural acts. How did this all begin? Little girls were twitching, as if they were being bitten and pinched, and they fell in violent seizures. In the end, a total of more than 150 people were accussed of witchcraft, and 19 of these people were put to death. The whole matter was settled in court--with competent people from the community, judges, prosecutors, and defenders. The amount of documents and other evidence produced far exceeds the evidence we have for a physically resurrected Jesus. It is more reliable too.

"Suppose we were to treat the historical evidence and the possibility of magic at Salem the way the evidence for the resurrection has been treated," writes McCormick. Could the evidence lead us to the conclusion their were real witches at Salem using magic? Look at the evidence. Hundreds accused others of being witches. These accusers were from all levels of the social ladder: "magistrates, judges, the governor of Massachusetts, respected members of the community, husbands of the accused, and so on." These accusers even lost their family and friends if they were right, and so their motives must have been true. If they were not real witches using dark magic, then why else would they accuse people they cared about? Gathering the evidence during this period in history was solid, because this was an actual trial holding many investigations. This could not be explained as a mass hallucination; the group of people involved are numerous. Did the evidence get changed over the centuries? It only happened a few centuries ago. We have signed testimonies from many eyewitnesses saying these witches used magic. This testimony was not repeated decades later by others. Indeed, we have actual eyewitness accounts that were recorded immediately after the event. Cotton Mather and John Hale have written entire books about it. Do you still doubt our evidence? The University of Virginia holds thousands of documents. That there were witches performing magic is without a doubt.

The above shows the approach apologists take to the Gospel accounts and the evidence they have. If they were to exam the Salem Witch Trials in the same manner, they would conclude the witches were real. But I don't believe they were real witches. No, the hypothesis that they are real witches is just one of many; the Christian apologists' argument does not rule out a natural explanation. But, according to N.T. Wright, it does. The evidence for the Salem Witch Trials is much stronger than the evidence provided by Christian apologists for Jesus' physical resurrection: Thousands of documents exist; relatively modern, educated people did investigations; the Salem Witch Trials happened only a few centuries ago; the original documents exist, not copies of copies; people gave their testimonies in court. The evidence for the Salem Witch Trials beat the Christian apologists' evidence in quantity and quality! The Christian apologist denies the witches were real witches in the Salem Witch Trials . . . even though we have a significant amount of evidence.

As 21st century citizens, we have advanced a great deal further than our 17th century predecessors. Why can't Christian apologists apply the same vigorous standards they use for making a case for real witches as they do in arguing for a physical resurrection of Christ? The Christian apologist may argue that he can accept the physical resurrection of Christ, but reject the existence of real witches in The Salem Witch Trials; however, the information is far too great. Perhaps they will argue for a natural explanation, but refuse to apply the same principle to Jesus. Even if I don't know what exactly happened in the Salem Witch Trials, I can still reject the idea there were real witches there without giving conclusive evidence for a natural explanation that totally refutes a supernatural explanation. As McCormick says, "The Salem case shows that even when a much higher burden of proof has been met with rigorous court trials, active investigations, witness interviews, and critical analysis, the supernatural explanation is still not warranted."

Last edited by ahanu; 01-10-2012 at 07:58 PM.
 
Old 01-10-2012, 10:02 PM   #25
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Hi Ahanu,

Thanks for laying out a more detailed argument you accept against Christ's resurrection.

I've done a once-through, and will read it further to digest it more fully.

My initial thoughts are these:

The argument you've provided focuses on Christian apologetics for the reality of Christ's resurrection, specifically arguments aimed at showing that Christ's resurrection is the best historical hypothesis to explain the data, and that the data allow us to conclude, from reason, that the resurrection was given that data more probable than not.

I'm not sure the sort of argument being critiqued represents my thinking.

What [i]do[/i/ I think?

I think the evidence of how the early Christians responded to Christ's death (e.g., proclaiming him not only still the Messiah, but also the Lord of all and conqueror of death, making the first day of the week the holiest day) and the absence of veneration of his body indicate that something quite unusual happened that involved 1) Jesus' body disappearing from its tomb, to the shock of his followers, and 2) many of his disciples having experiences of seeing Jesus, who appeared to be embodied.

Does this mean, per some Christian apologists, that one is forced to accept that Christ was resurrected? Not at all.

One could posit that the body was--however unlikely the specific scenarios for this might seem--stolen and that the disciples had visions of Jesus appearing to be alive, and one could reasonably conclude that this is nonetheless more likely than an unprecedented resurrection from death.

Or one could simply see the question as one of history's many fascinating unsolved mysteries and leave it at that.

Unlike the apologists under critique here I do not hold that the historical evidence about what happened in the days following Jesus' death effectively pushes one to accept the resurrection. Were a hypothetical non-religious person to take that evidence alone, I think probably the most reasonable thing to do would be to think something seemingly very improbable, but not supernatural, happened, or just to be agnostic on the question.

The situation changes when one adopts other relevant beliefs. Belief in an all-powerful God, for instance, ups the probability of selective violations of natural law considerably. And when that God is a moral being, and particularly is the God of the Bible, then one has reason to alter one's probability scale for miracles that involve biblical prophecy and doctrine and particularly moral and godly persons.

I don't believe in Christ's resurrection simply because of the resurrection texts from early Christianity, nor have I said that I do. What I've said I conclude from those texts is strictly this: 1) Jesus' tomb was empty--to his disciples' surprise; 2) a number of them saw him appearing to be again embodied; and 3) on the basis of these two things early Christians believed--and centrally--that Jesus had been resurrected, meaning physically resurrected, which is what the term "resurrected" meant in the first place.

This belief that Christ had been raised from the dead as the harbinger of the general resurrection was the reason Christians believed he was the Messiah despite his utter and complete failure to do what the Messiah was supposed to do. Rather than liberate Israel and usher in the new age of peace, he had been brutally executed. As Messiah, he had failed--unless one felt compelled to believe that he was going to return as the resurrected Lord to fulfill the Messianic role, judge the world and bring about the general resurrection. And this was precisely what they believed. (For one of many excellent pieces of scholarship that document this see Stanley Stowers, A Rereading of Romans.)

But how do I get from early Christians believing in Christ's resurrection to me believing in it?

I believe in an interventionist God. And I believe Christ was of God because his teachings were sublime, he ushered in a moral revolution and demonstrably transformed the world. I also have experienced in Christ a revelation of God. I have had powerful spiritual sensations when contemplating Christ as God revealing himself to us and reaching out to us that I have never had from anything else, despite having had a very intense and varied religious life.

If I judge Christ by his fruits in my own life and in the world, my judgment is necessarily strongly affirmative.

Given these things, I'm confronted with whether I should accept Christ's divinity. And I'm confronted with the question of whether I will accept the very foundation on which his post-mortem movement was premised: the belief that his empty tomb and post-mortem apparitions meant he had been resurrected.

There had been many failed messiahs before Jesus, and there were many since (most famously Simon Bar Kokhba and Sabbatai Sevi). They all---like Jesus---died without redeeming Israel or ushering in the expected messianic age, and some of them died as he had--by brutal execution. Which of them spawned post-death movements that emphatically, energetically, and enduringly embraced their messiah as still the messiah despite his death? The problem for these movements is that their messiah is dead, and that his death means he failed to do the very things that define one as the messiah.

Jesus' disciples, to the contrary, appear to have become convinced more than ever of his messiahship almost immediately after his death, and believed he was the "firstborn" of the general resurrection of the body in which the Jewish sects aside from the Saducees then believed. This conviction, and the certainty of it, point decidedly to 1) the post-death apparitions, and 2) the shocking disappearance of Christ's body.

What Wright shows effectively is that the Jesus movement owes its enduring existence to the disappearance of Christ's corpse and the Easter apparitions of what the disciples perceived as an embodied, living Jesus who had conquered death and could yet return to fulfill his role as the promised Messiah.

I can't help, at least with what I see at present, perceiving his arguments to this effective as cogent and persuasive. And notice that up to this point, the argument need not posit anything supernatural. They had apparitional experiences--of who knows what origin (perhaps just in their own brains), and a certain body has disappeared from its tomb.

Suppose we posit the supernatural explanation that they held for the apparitions and empty tomb: Jesus' body had been raised from death by God. This would then make the foundation of Christianity--the series of events that made it endure beyond Jesus' ignominious execution and made it the movement it was--a legitimate act of God. Christianity would then have a divine and divinely legitimating foundation.

Now let us suppose we posit a natural explanation for the almost-certain disappearance of Jesus' body from the tomb: a few disciples hid it from the others and then failed to ever confess this even when their fellow disciples formed the most extravagant claims for Jesus on the basis of this disappearance, or Jesus' enemies came to destroy it, preventing it from ever having the proper funerary rites. In this case, the foundation of Christianity becomes an act of vandalism or one of deception. If (as Wright argues cogently) Jews of the first century would not have understood anyone to be resurrected--i.e., bodily raised from the dead, the very meaning of the term--while his moldering corpse was around and it was (as he also cogently argues) this that allowed them to believe that an execution victim was the messiah, the Lord, the conqueror of death, then Jesus' movement survives his execution because of a colossal error, based on an act of dishonesty.

And I just have extreme trouble looking at the good Christianity has done in the world, how much more godly it has made the world, and how I find God in Christ, and believe that this is how it got its start.

Given the best historical evidence as I can now perceive it, either Jesus was bodily resurrected from the dead and Christianity as it endured his death has a divine origin, or Jesus' corpse was stolen and Christianity as a post-Crucifixion religion has an origin that is human, all-too-human.

Having seen the fruits of Christianity and perceiving the historical evidence as I do, I opt for the first. This is, of course, an act of faith, something that McCormick would see as completely illegitimate. Believing in God as I do, divine miracles are not going to be the same sort of improbability for me that genuine witchcraft is. My belief in a theistic God entails His power and His interventionist concern, and hence the plausibility of miracles, but it does nothing to entail that some elderly women have magical powers from the devil.

For Matt McCormick - a polemicist for atheism: Atheism: Proving The Negative - all such supernatural claims are equally hogwash, and one has no reason to apply any different standard to one than to another. He would dismiss your own beliefs in God, the soul, Baha'u'llah, infallibility, as readily as any others.

But you, unlike Matt McCormick, are a person of faith. You believe in an all-powerful God, the God of the Bible, the Qur'an, and the Writings of Baha'u'llah. And if you accept Baha'u'llah as infallible, then, if you're consistent in that, you accept the Virgin Birth of Christ.

If McCormick dismisses the Resurrection on analogy with the Salem Witch Trials, just think what sort of field day he'd have with the Virgin Birth. And if you dislike the level of evidence for the Resurrection, you should have a great laugh about the Virgin Birth.

The Resurrection is affirmed by the first generation of Christians--it's repeatedly and emphatically in our earliest Christian texts as a central article of faith. Paul's letters are shot through with it. And he attests having seen the Lord who had risen from death and reports that Peter, James, and other apostles he had met in Jerusalem around 37 AD, just a few years after the Crucifixion, had also seen him and believed him to now be the resurrected Lord. Each of the early accounts of Christ's life reports the Resurrection, the empty tomb, and post-Resurrection appearances. (Even, though I believe you deny this in a post on another thread, the Gospel of Mark with the short ending [which is probably missing its original ending--see thread above], says that Jesus is going to meet the disciples in Galilee.) Though the order of appearances varies, the report that there were appearances (particularly to the Twelve) is unanimous in these accounts; and this agrees with Paul's earlier account in 1 Corinthians. And the Christian attribution of holiness to the first day of the week, as "the Lord's Day," is affirmed in Paul's letters. The Resurrection was intrinsic to the survival of the Jesus movement and the Christian perception of who Jesus was, is attested in Christian texts and practices of the first generation, reflecting experiences dating to the 30s.

The evidence for the Virgin Birth?

None of the first-generation Christian documents or even the later epistles refers to it. Two out of the four second-/third-generation gospel accounts affirm the Virgin Birth, each appending to the earliest gospel--which entirely lacks the idea--an almost entirely different account of it (census in one, not in the other; star in one, not in the other; different genealogies; wisemen in one, not in the other; etc.; etc.). The two gospels that do have it each give a genealogy for Jesus that, oddly, traces through Joseph--whom they then claim is not really his father, suggesting that they are trying to integrate contradictory ideas: a tradition that Jesus was the son of Joseph with a doctrine that he was not. (Note that the genealogies trace Jesus, through Joseph, back to David--whom we do know early Christian belief identified Jesus as a descendant of David [e.g., Romans 1:3]. Thus it is the Jesus genealogies through Joseph, and not the Virgin Birth stories denying that Joseph was his father, that have the better to claim to reflect early Christian tradition.)

Jesus is never represented as affirming his Virgin Birth in any of the Gospels (yet predicts his Resurrection in each) Nor do any of the texts describe anyone who might have known about the Virgin Birth events (the Annunciation, Mary's virginity, etc.) actually testifying of or reporting it (contrast the apostles testifying of the resurrection in the Gospels, in Acts, and, in the case of Paul, in his epistles). Rather, the Virgin Birth is simply narrated, from the omniscient perspective. Did the reports of it trace back to Mary, the only person who would have known? There is no indication in any of the first century texts that it did. Or did it emerge by revelation to some individual, or a gradual accumulation of changing tradition? There is nothing to tell us--we have no one acting as a witness for the alleged miracle.

The doctrine is also, theologically, a superfluous add-on to Christian belief. Not only is it attested only late, it is completely unnecessary to Christianity's emergence and survival, and it is so peripheral that even if it were known to the early writers they didn't bother mentioning it.

Now, let me make sure I have this straight: you reject Christ's Resurrection--which is early, central, and necessary for the disciples to believe in for the survival of their messianic movement, comparing it to the Salem witch curses, and you accept his Virgin Birth, which, in terms of evidence compared to the Resurrection, is a castle on a cloud?

BTW, it's worth noting--if you haven't noted it or taken stock of its significance already--that you have a strong tendency to rest your arguments on those of atheists, and even atheists who take what in the world of critical biblical scholarship are generally considered crackpot positions.

Bob Price is simply brilliant at seeing the connections between different narratives, and I love the guy. But Bob is an atheist who argues Jesus never existed, a position that places him on the fringes of his field.

Richard Carrier? Richard is an atheist with an absolutely evangelical fervor against God and religion and is the chief popularizer in our day of this same fringe theory--that Jesus never existed and one of the people behind the Jesus-denying film "The God Who Never Was." Richard Carrier - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Carrier's CV shows that although he has established himself among a cult following of atheists, writing chiefly for "Internet Infidels," and places like the secular humanist press Prometheus Books, but has not published in scholarly journals--with a single exception: Bob Price's own journal, The Journal of Higher Criticism.

When you drop an argument you pick up from Richard Carrier and tell me I need to refute it, you shoot yourself in the foot, since there's no reason anyone can't lob some of his arguments against a historical Jesus, or against the existence of God, at you and tell you that you need to refute them in order to rationally maintain your beliefs. After all, if there's no God, He didn't manifest in Baha'u'llah; and if Jesus never existed, and Baha'u'llah says Jesus was a Manifestation of God and that he's Jesus' successor in this role, this more than slightly calls into question Baha'u'llah's credibility, to say nothing of his infallibility.

The essential argument you cite from McCormick is that Christian apologists accept one level of evidence for the Resurrection but reject a higher level of evidence for the Salem witch curses. He's arguing that they're selective and inconsistent in their judgment of the evidence. Rejecting the better-evidenced bodily Resurrection while accepting the pitifully poorly evidenced Virgin Birth would be an even more dramatic version of the same thing. And trusting anti-historical Jesus, activist-atheist scholars, but only when they say things contrary to one's own religious tenets would display the same sort of inconsistency.

If McCormick's argument favors your position on the Resurrection, the logic underlying his argument just as much undermines your faith, and entirely vitiates your approach to selective reliance on anti-religious writers and uneven application of evidentiary standards to the Resurrection and the Virgin Birth.

In the end, Ahanu, you and I face similar issues. The faith positions you adopt are not something you can demonstrate or for which you can give evidence that is of an entirely different quality and kind than what people of many religions can offer for their faiths. Your own faith is thus vulnerable anti-religious critique just like the rest.

And you and I both believe in Jesus--that he lived, that he was chosen by God, and that his movement and the civilization emerging from it were of God. If the arguments I've summarized, and which Wright develops at length are correct--and they seem worlds better to me than what I've seen you linking to on the topic of the empty tomb and early Christian belief on the nature of the resurrection, then the conundrum facing a Christian and Baha'i would be the same: the Christian movement either began with a divine resurrection or with a human deception. Neither of us, believing it to be divine in origin, can consistently accept the latter.

This is part of the conundrum I see for myself. If I reject the resurrection, then it makes me doubt that Christianity was literally divine in origin: its survival and spread would seem to be a human accident, rather than a divine necessity. And if I believe that about Christianity, it doesn't bode well for the Baha'i faith, which builds on Christ and Christianity, either.

I've also been thinking that the Resurrection makes Christ unique and better than Baha'u'llah. LoG has made a good argument that this is not necessarily so. And I am somewhat persuaded by that position.

But it still seems to me that a literal Resurrection implies a literal Second Coming--and that jars with Baha'u'llah saying he was the Second Coming. I'm still thinking about that one.

In any case, I don't really want to argue about whether the Resurrection really happened. So, enough from my end about that.

I'm not really sure what the right questions are to be asking here.

One might be: Suppose Wright is right about the role of the empty tomb in the rise of a post-Easter Christianity. Could Christianity be a divine movement even if its survival was premised on an erroneous explanation for the empty tomb?

Or maybe that's not the right question. I'm tired from writing about all this.

I really should give myself a break from the discussion and from what Cire would I think rightly see as too much intellectualizing of these questions.

Cheers,

Don

P.S. While accepting for the purposes of discussion McCormick's analogy of the Resurrection evidence with that of the Salem witch curses, I'm not convinced the levels of evidence are in fact similar. (See http://biblicalscholarship.wordpress...-witch-trials/ )

Last edited by IndependentInvestigator; 01-10-2012 at 10:41 PM. Reason: Edited to add the last few paragraphs
 
Old 01-10-2012, 11:02 PM   #26
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Originally Posted by IndependentInvestigator View Post
1) Jesus' body disappearing from its tomb, to the shock of his followers
Know that everything I'm about to tell you is very, very controversial.



What if it wasn't shocking? What if a suffering Messiah tradition existed before the Jesus movement? Justin Martyr debates messianism with a follower of Judaism in the Dialogue with Trypho. In this dialogue, the Jew is quoted as saying: “for we know that he should suffer and be led as a sheep . . . let these things be so as you say—namely, that it was foretold Christ would suffer . . . you have sufficiently proved by means of the Scriptures previously quoted by you, that it is declared in the Scriptures that Christ must suffer” (90:1; 36:1; 39:7). What?! This anonymous Jew is quoted as saying, "FOR WE KNOW THAT HE SHOULD SUFFER AND BE LED AS A SHEEP." I have not read the entire Dialogue with Trypho. Still, these quotes are intriguing; a Jew expects the messiah to suffer or that is what Justin wants the reader to believe. I received these quotes from John Collin’s book The Scepter and the Star, which I briefly glanced at in the bookstore. I want to share my ponderings and Israel Knohl's ponderings on the idea of there being a suffering messiah in pre-Christian Judaism, so instead of the shocking Jesus, maybe Christians have an expected Jesus?

I am familiar with the Christian interpretation of Isaiah chapter 53. Surely Christians have read the following to refer to Jesus, the Christ: “He [my servant] was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from who men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not” (Isaiah 52: 13; 53:3). From the scholar Bart D. Ehrman, I learned that the servant was understood to the writer of Isaiah to be Israel. “But for you, O Israel, my servant . . . You are my servant, Israel . . . “ (Isaiah 41: 8; 49:3) Previously, I thought all Jews during the time of Jesus to believe that the messiah would be a military hero who would defeat the Romans. Think Simon bar Kokhba. Therefore, some Jews would not see the Messiah as a suffering servant since the Old Testament passage quoted above could be taken as Israel.

As Gabriel’s Revelation shows (if true), the messiah as suffering servant was interpreted before the Jesus group arrived on the scene, so it was there with the militant tradition. Gabriel’s Revelation is a stone tablet found by the scholar Israel Knohl. To read the online text of Gabriel’s Revelation , click on the link at the far bottom. From Knohl’s “By Three Days, Live”: Messiahs, Resurrection, and Ascent to Heaven in Hazon Gabriel , Knohl writes, “As for Ephraim, the biblical Ephraim is the son of Joseph; consequently, ‘My servant David’ and ‘Ephraim’ in Hazon Gabriel are apparently parallel to the ‘Messiah son of David’ and the ‘Messiah son of Joseph’ mentioned in the Talmud. As Yardeni and Elitzur observe, ‘Ephraim is the name of the Messiah in Pesikta Rabbati, who suffers in order to atone for Israel.” Interesting (if true). While Gabriel’s Revelation is thought to refer to Simon son of Joseph (4 BCE), the interpretation of a suffering messiah figure is prevalent. These are some scriptures from the Old Testament referring to Ephraim: “I have surely heard Ephraim’s moaning: ‘You disciplined me like an unruly calf, and I have been disciplined. Restore me, and I will return, because you are the Lord my God . . . Is not Ephraim my dear son, the child in whom I delight? Though I often speak against him, I still remember him. Therefore my heart yearns for him; I have great compassion for him,’ declares the Lord” (Jeremiah 31: 18; 31: 20). Gabriel’s Revelation contains this interesting read from lines 16-17: "[My servant David, ask of Ephraim (that he) place the sign; (this) I ask of you.]" Israel Knopf was doing some spectacular speculation. Take the Christ’s words in Matthew 24 as an example: “At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn” (Matthew 24: 30). Here Jesus quotes Zechariah 12:12, but what is the sign of the Son of Man? Knohl speculates it could be a reference to the following words: “The blood will be a sign for you” (Ex 12:13). In Gabriel’s Revalation, the sign is “heralding the advent of salvation,” says Knohl. Remember, the stone writing is dated at the “late 1st century BCE.”

As for authenticity, here is Knohl's response to Collin's criticism:

Collins vs. Knohl on the Vision of Gabriel: Knohl responds - Ancient Hebrew Poetry

Check out the publication of the text:

http://www.bib-arch.org/news/dssinstone_english.pdf

I will read what you posted later. I've posted most of this from my notes, but I did revise it just for you, IndependentInvestigator. Also, I will take a look at the rest of what you wrote soon. I need to sleep--just like you.
 
Old 01-10-2012, 11:11 PM   #27
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Thanks, Ahanu, for this. If I understand right, this is about the question of whether some of the Jews may have expected a suffering messiah, rather than a conquering one. So, the shock in question here would be over his death, rather than the disappearance of his body?

This would still have bearing, potentially, since it would raise the question of whether the Christians would think Jesus needed to come back in order to act as messiah.

Or are you saying the resurrection at the third day wouldn't be surprising, because there may have been a tradition about the messiah dying and rising at the third day?

The idea of a suffering messiah does make me curious--what would this suffering messiah's role be? I mean, what would he do, and how would this save Israel? One presumes his messianic role would only be fulfilled fully after his resurrection...?

BTW, some of what I wrote above may be obnoxiously worded or framed. I don't try to write obnoxiously, but sometimes I'm so good at it that I don't have to try! I hope I've presented what I have to say in such a way that it puts across my points without giving offense.

Thanks for providing these notes and adapting them just for me.

Get good sleep!

Don
 
Old 01-11-2012, 05:38 AM   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IndependentInvestigator View Post
Or are you saying the resurrection at the third day wouldn't be surprising, because there may have been a tradition about the messiah dying and rising at the third day?
If Israel Knohl's reading is correct, yes. The most controversial lines are as follows:

"“By three days, live, I Gabriel command you, prince of the princes.”

Knohl believes this refers to resurrection.
 
Old 01-11-2012, 08:15 AM   #29
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oh guys, I'm not up to reading all that

However resurrection is fact, do not we feel it when our loved one's die? It is an obscenity to be compelled to believe they remain in the earth unresurrected until such time as the literal Second Coming occurs? Do post- resurrection appearances have to be in a body, I say NO! What does literalism say about a concsistency that goes back thousands of years through many religions world-wide......... The bodily resurrection is a small corner in the whole picture........

Have not the bestspiritual fruits of men's labors indicated that there is a resurrection, that it does NOT have to be bodily?

I'm really really sorry now for bringing up Spongy-poo. EEeek!

We are never obnoxious, we are never impatient, and we are never wrong if we can't just get the next comment out there to explain what we really meant..........LOL...........
 
Old 01-11-2012, 02:13 PM   #30
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The Virgin Birth...merely signs...not the Word......

The Virgin Birth in context of its day was a terrible test for those who would be exposed to the Gospel. It must have immediately weeded out a great many people. Today seekers looking into the Baha'i Faith are also faced with the terrible complexity that we believe in the Virgin Birth, but not the bodily resurrection of Christ. IF one puts him/herself into the time of Jesus one would have to deal with Him being fatherless. Isn't that interesting? In this time it ceases to be a point of contention, because it is massively accepted.

However Jesus' birth was merely a sign. It was a guidepost for some and a wall for others. Regardless of the signs, Jesus was the Word made flesh. His Words contained the Holy Spirit and Baha'is are told that Words such as these are the true proof of a Messenger of God, because these Words have the power to change men's hearts. And I do not believe it was merely a belief in the bodily resurrection that caused men to die for their beliefs, and I don't mean martyrs in the traditional sense.

I am talking about the Christians of Rome who in approximately 150 and 250 AD nursed and died caring for plague victims, but who also as a result of mere nursing care decreased the death rate 1/3. Pagans did not do this. They fled Rome or barricaded themselves in their homes, they left the sick by the road, and put the ill outside in the streets. The Christians believed in life after death, and they knew that love sustained all, and that a life worth living was of love. It wasn't belief in a sign that produced this faith, it was a reciprocal relationship of prayer and growth that was supported by God. What does belief in a mere sign have to do with this?

Last edited by cire perdue; 01-11-2012 at 02:16 PM.
 
Old 01-11-2012, 10:57 PM   #31
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ahanu View Post
If Israel Knohl's reading is correct, yes. The most controversial lines are as follows:

"“By three days, live, I Gabriel command you, prince of the princes.”

Knohl believes this refers to resurrection.
Cool!
 
Old 01-11-2012, 10:59 PM   #32
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Originally Posted by cire perdue View Post

i'm really really sorry now for bringing up spongy-poo. Eeeek!
lol

=)
 
Old 01-11-2012, 11:18 PM   #33
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cire perdue View Post
The Virgin Birth in context of its day was a terrible test for those who would be exposed to the Gospel. It must have immediately weeded out a great many people. Today seekers looking into the Baha'i Faith are also faced with the terrible complexity that we believe in the Virgin Birth, but not the bodily resurrection of Christ. IF one puts him/herself into the time of Jesus one would have to deal with Him being fatherless. Isn't that interesting? In this time it ceases to be a point of contention, because it is massively accepted.

However Jesus' birth was merely a sign.
Hey CP!

The Virgin Birth as either a sign or a test at the time seems odd to me.

A sign to whom? And a test to whom? Mary is said to have taken what Gabriel told her and "kept" it to herself and "pondered it in her heart." Neither Jesus nor his contemporaries are represented as saying anything about it in the Gospels. There's no reason to think it was known, and, in fact, Luke's saying Mary kept it secret strongly suggests that it would not have been known to others.

And, indeed, neither Mark nor Paul nor the people who constructed the Jesus genealogies (which trace him to David through Joseph) seem to have been aware of a virgin birth claim.

It's hard to see how a secret divine conception not circulated till 80-plus years after the fact, long after both Jesus and Mary were gone, could have been a sign to the people of anything. And the fact that such a claim was unprovable and had no real evidence that could be adduced for it would also remove any value it had as a sign. A sign is only really a sign if it's demonstrable. A late, unverifiable claim isn't a sign, it's just a late, unverifiable claim--the sort of thing that would require a public, demonstrable sign of its own to make it believable.

For similar reasons I don't see how it could have been a test, except perhaps for the Christians of the late first century and later centuries, rather than for the people of Jesus and Mary's time. And if it is a test of faith, I must admit that I fail it. Since it has no direct testimony to support it and no sources reporting it within 80 years of the fact, appears to have been unknown to the earliest Christians (those closest to the alleged event), contradicts the tradition of Jesus genealogies, and is not required for any theological purpose whatsoever, I'm just puzzled at why I should treat it as more than a beautiful myth. So far as I can discern, the story of the Virgin Birth, like that of the star of Bethlehem, is a mythic way of expressing that Christ's birth, and therefore the man himself and his mission, were unique and divine.


Quote:
It wasn't belief in a sign that produced this faith, it was a reciprocal relationship of prayer and growth that was supported by God. What does belief in a mere sign have to do with this?
Signs are important because they point to things. To the early Christians, the resurrection was a sign that Christ was the Messiah and that God had exalted him to station of Lord over the entire earth, and it was an assurance that God would similarly raise them up. Signs can indicate what God wants us to have faith in, though of course it is the faith itself that transforms us.

I agree with you that a sign itself is not the most important thing.

Goodnight!

Don
 
Old 01-12-2012, 03:54 AM   #34
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Don wrote:

A sign to whom? And a test to whom? Mary is said to have taken what Gabriel told her and "kept" it to herself and "pondered it in her heart." Neither Jesus nor his contemporaries are represented as saying anything about it in the Gospels. There's no reason to think it was known, and, in fact, Luke's saying Mary kept it secret strongly suggests that it would not have been known to others.

I think Don you may have overlooked that it was a "test" for Joseph in Matthew 1:18-20.

In Qur'an:

Then she brought it to her people, carrying it; said they, 'O Mary! thou hast done an extraordinary thing! O sister of Aaron! thy father was not a bad man, nor was thy mother a harlot!'

~ The Qur'an (E.H. Palmer tr), Sura 19 - Mary

From the Baha'i Writings:

Likewise, reflect upon the state and condition of Mary. So deep was the perplexity of that most beauteous countenance, so grievous her case, that she bitterly regretted she had ever been born. To this beareth witness the text of the sacred verse wherein it is mentioned that after Mary had given birth to Jesus, she bemoaned her plight and cried out: "O would that I had died ere this, and been a thing forgotten, forgotten quite!"[1]

I swear by God! Such lamenting consumeth the heart and shaketh the being. Such consternation of soul, such despondency, could have been caused by no other than the censure of the enemy and the cavilings of the infidel and perverse. Reflect, what answer could Mary have given to the people around her? How could she claim that a Babe Whose father was unknown had been conceived of the Holy Ghost? Therefore did Mary, that veiled and immortal Countenance, take up her Child and return unto her home. No sooner had the eyes of the people fallen upon her than they raised their voice saying: "O sister of Aaron! Thy father was not a man of wickedness, nor unchaste thy mother."[1]


[1 Qur'án 19:22.]
[2 Qur'án 19:28.]

~ Baha'u'llah, The Kitab-i-Iqan, p. 55

Last edited by arthra; 01-12-2012 at 03:59 AM.
 
Old 01-12-2012, 08:54 AM   #35
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Arthra,

Ah--yes, you're right: the Virgin Birth was a sign and a test for Mary herself and for Joseph. For the reasons above, I don't see how it would have been for those around them, who didn't know about it, but the scriptural stories definitely present it as a sign and a test for them.

Cheers,

Don
 
Old 01-12-2012, 03:33 PM   #36
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IndependentInvestigator View Post
The Virgin Birth as either a sign or a test at the time seems odd to me.

a test to whom?
Ok, I will attampt to explain to whom it was a test.
In addition a test for Mary, It was mostly a test for the people and the generation who lived arround the time of Jesus.
How?
Well, to the eyes of people, Jesus was a fatherlass person. meaning that to them, He was someone whose mother had a religiuosly illegal child, for at that time, only if a woman was married to a man, she was supposed to have a child, otherwise, she would be considered a bad woman.
Thus, since mary was not married, while she gave birth, to the neibourhood, Jesus was know as a fatherless, who has a bad mother, for who would at that time believe such a strange thing, that He was born through holy spirit.
Now, consider how this was a test for people who were supposed to believe that this man, who was know as fatherlass, be the Promissed Messiah. A very difficault test for them to be able to recognize and accept Jesus as the True Messiah.
Thus, only those who had a clean heart, and free from error, could pass the test and recognize Him. Thus God, separated the people of ignorant from the pure hearted ones.

Last edited by InvestigateTruth; 01-12-2012 at 03:37 PM.
 
Old 01-12-2012, 04:31 PM   #37
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Quote:
The essential argument you cite from McCormick is that Christian apologists accept one level of evidence for the Resurrection but reject a higher level of evidence for the Salem witch curses. He's arguing that they're selective and inconsistent in their judgment of the evidence. Rejecting the better-evidenced bodily Resurrection while accepting the pitifully poorly evidenced Virgin Birth would be an even more dramatic version of the same thing. And trusting anti-historical Jesus, activist-atheist scholars, but only when they say things contrary to one's own religious tenets would display the same sort of inconsistency.

If McCormick's argument favors your position on the Resurrection, the logic underlying his argument just as much undermines your faith, and entirely vitiates your approach to selective reliance on anti-religious writers and uneven application of evidentiary standards to the Resurrection and the Virgin Birth.
No, it does not undermine my faith: I don't believe in the Virgin Birth; I don't believe in supernatural miracles. I like this quote from Abdu'l-Baha:

"In short, the point is this, that the world of man is supernatural in its relation to the vegetable kingdom, though in reality it is not so. Relatively to the plant, the reality of man, his power of hearing and sight, are all supernatural, and for the plant to comprehend that reality and the nature of the powers of man’s mind is impossible."

"Man" has the power of "hearing" and "sight," but that does not conflict (or intervene) with the plant's power to "grow." I believe our senses are limited, and we do not perceive reality as it is. Refer to Kant and the Bab. I believe in God, but not a God whose powers conflict (or intervene) with "Man's" reality.

Sorry, I do not have time to go into detail since college has started. I'm very busy at the moment, yet despite this, I wanted to briefly share my view with you.
 
Old 01-12-2012, 06:18 PM   #38
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Interesting, Ahanu.

Insofar as the Baha'i faith in general asserts the occurrence of certain miracles, these claims would fall under the same critique given by McCormick. But if you don't believe in any miracles, then your own views wouldn't fall under it.

I'd be very interested in hearing how you understand concepts like "infallibility," since it doesn't sound like you see Baha'u'llah, Abdul-Baha, and Shoghi Effendi as infallible in their acceptance of the Virgin Birth.

I don't say this as a criticism of your views. To the contrary: I have trouble with the notion of infallibility, tend toward more liberal and questioning faith, and am interested in how one might adopt the Baha'i faith without necessarily adhering to things that seem to me indefensible.

Best of luck with school. If you get a few minutes, I'd love to hear more about your views on infallibility and on being a Baha'i on [I'm assuming] your own intellectual terms.

Don
 
Old 01-12-2012, 06:37 PM   #39
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One thing to bear in mind is that while Baha'is do accept the virgin birth it is not a required belief as in say Christianity ... it is not a dogma...thus while we accept it we do not require people to recite it in a creed as in traditional Christianity.

Also consider the following:

THE GREATNESS OF CHRIST IS DUE TO HIS PERFECTIONS

A great man is a great man, whether born of a human father or not. If being without a father is a virtue, Adam is greater and more excellent than all the Prophets and Messengers, for He had neither father nor mother. That which causes honor and greatness is the splendor and bounty of the divine perfections. The sun is born from substance and form, which can be compared to father and mother, and it is absolute perfection; but the darkness has neither substance nor form, neither father nor mother, and it is absolute imperfection. The substance of Adam's physical life was earth, but the substance of Abraham was pure sperm; it is certain that the pure and chaste sperm is superior to earth.

Furthermore, in the first chapter of the Gospel of John, verses 12 and 13, it is said: "But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believed on His name:

"Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God."[1]
[1 Cf. John 1:12-13.]

From these verses it is obvious that the being of a disciple also is not created by physical power, but by the spiritual reality. The honor and greatness of Christ is not due to the fact that He did not have a human father, but to His perfections, bounties and divine glory. If the greatness of Christ is His being fatherless, then Adam is greater than Christ, for He had neither father nor mother. It is 90 said in the Old Testament, "And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul."[1] Observe that it is said that Adam came into existence from the Spirit of life. Moreover, the expression which John uses in regard to the disciples proves that they also are from the Heavenly Father. Hence it is evident that the holy reality, meaning the real existence of every great man, comes from God and owes its being to the breath of the Holy Spirit.
[1 Gen. 2:7.]

The purport is that, if to be without a father is the greatest human glory, then Adam is greater than all, for He had neither father nor mother. Is it better for a man to be created from a living substance or from earth? Certainly it is better if he be created from a living substance. But Christ was born and came into existence from the Holy Spirit.

To conclude: the splendor and honor of the holy souls and the Divine Manifestations come from Their heavenly perfections, bounties and glory, and from nothing else. 91

(Abdu'l-Baha, Some Answered Questions, p. 87)
 
Old 01-12-2012, 07:17 PM   #40
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I suppose that presents a proplem then Arthra, if you are not required to believe what your own leaders and teachers taught you, are you asserting you know more than God inspired individuals? As a bahai can one literally believe in anything? What is the doctrine and dogma of hte bahai faith for there must be at least be at least one common element all bahai have to believe, or it would seem to me a very personal religion one not bound by any standard except what yourself makes for it. The very definition of subjectivism.

And my admiration to Investigate, putting the argument more beutifully than I ever have as well as being more impartial as well.
 
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