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A few questions from an open-minded agnostic.

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Hello. I'm somebody who has never been religious, but is curious about the beliefs and mentality of believers. I appreciate Christianity for its cultural importance and the great works of art it inspired, but for various reasons never became a believer myself. There's a few questions which have kept at nagging me, so I want to actually hear what answers Christians have for them instead of making assumptions. I apologize if these questions are inappropriate or if I phrase them in an offensive way. I plan on reading the bible cover to cover after this.

What is the correct canonicity and how do you know? : The book of Enoch is one example of a book with debatable canonicity. In it, an angel named Sariel teaches men about the moon cycles and sleeps with women against god's wishes(I'm just going off of what little I know from reading articles). Jewish rabbis at some point deemed this book non-canonical because according to Jewish belief, angels cannot willfully disobey god. They aren't capable of it. They can only make mistakes and be punished for it. Now, obviously Christians do not agree with this belief(Satan). So, why not go back and reconsider the Book of Enoch? Why should I believe Jewish rabbis who dismissed the book on false grounds(according to Christianity)? On top of that, what about texts that were burned or lost? I've seen one answer that said "God would have orchestrated events so that his word would stay perfect", but why then do different denominations have slightly different canonicity? How am I supposed to know which one is true? There isn't an angel coming down and setting things straight for some reason. Why has Christianity been confounded? Why believe in the perfect word of god if it's clearly been mangled by humans?

One response might be that slight differences in canonicity don't matter. As long as Jesus is in your heart, you will go to heaven. What about the way i'm supposed to live in life though? The bible should give me all the answers, but how can I be sure that some mistranslation, or specific choice didn't warp the meaning of the text? If a translator decides to write the same word congregation in positive contexts, and synagogue in negative ones, wouldn't that change the message a bit? Why am I denied a perfect truth?

How do you know the current consensus on "Christian morality" is correct? : One of the main pillars of Christianity is the idea of objective morality as far as I understand. Even if a person has never heard of Jesus before, they innately have a sense for God's morality, so their sins are not excused. However, the "common morality" of Christians has not remained constant. What was considered a few hundreds of years ago to be morally acceptable by typical Christians: colonialism, marrying people far younger that what is now considered acceptable, etc, is not anymore. How do you know our "modern morality" is the correct one? How do you know secular society and its "common morality" hasn't influenced and poisoned "Christian morality"? What if people from the past were right and we're wrong, even if it's only in a few ways?

Why did God create man to be so weak and dependent? : God created man to bring glory to him, but god does not need glory because he is complete. Man needs to give god glory to elevate himself. Why though? Why did god create human beings so that they need to give him glory? Even if Adam and Eve didn't need to do so, why did God create Adam and Eve to be weak enough to succumb to temptation? In fact, why did God give humans free will at all? I looked for answers to this before, and what I found amounted to " well of course he did because you cannot love if you do not have free will". Except God isn't limited by human logic. He created logic. If he wanted to, he could make it so beings without free will can love. He can do anything what so ever with no limitations if he is all-powerful.

Those are the big three. I'm not looking for a debate and I'll accept any answers given to me.
 

JohnDB

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Wow...
That's a laundry list of questions.

Let's start with the first one.
Connonicity...

The tests for scripture being authorized by God number over 100.

Several of these tests the book of Enoch deliberately violate and fail.

One unique story is how the prophet Daniel subscribes to what the Prophet Jeremiah wrote around only 75 years before instead of waiting the customary 100 years to put faith that these words are from God.

Scripture is unique in construction. There are many levels of communication usually contained within each book unique to that particular book. The book of Enoch fails this as well.

Contradictory theology from any writing claiming to be scripture is of course rejected. The Book of Enoch never was ever considered for cannon until recently by a few people who don't understand what scripture consists of.

Apocryphal writings used to be included with the Bible... including several liturgical prayers by various priests. They were removed because of the confusion they created but they also were not to be considered "inspired by God".
 

Truthfrees

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Hello. I'm somebody who has never been religious, but is curious about the beliefs and mentality of believers. I appreciate Christianity for its cultural importance and the great works of art it inspired, but for various reasons never became a believer myself. There's a few questions which have kept at nagging me, so I want to actually hear what answers Christians have for them instead of making assumptions. I apologize if these questions are inappropriate or if I phrase them in an offensive way. I plan on reading the bible cover to cover after this.

What is the correct canonicity and how do you know? : The book of Enoch is one example of a book with debatable canonicity. In it, an angel named Sariel teaches men about the moon cycles and sleeps with women against god's wishes(I'm just going off of what little I know from reading articles). Jewish rabbis at some point deemed this book non-canonical because according to Jewish belief, angels cannot willfully disobey god. They aren't capable of it. They can only make mistakes and be punished for it. Now, obviously Christians do not agree with this belief(Satan). So, why not go back and reconsider the Book of Enoch? Why should I believe Jewish rabbis who dismissed the book on false grounds(according to Christianity)? On top of that, what about texts that were burned or lost? I've seen one answer that said "God would have orchestrated events so that his word would stay perfect", but why then do different denominations have slightly different canonicity? How am I supposed to know which one is true? There isn't an angel coming down and setting things straight for some reason. Why has Christianity been confounded? Why believe in the perfect word of god if it's clearly been mangled by humans?

One response might be that slight differences in canonicity don't matter. As long as Jesus is in your heart, you will go to heaven. What about the way i'm supposed to live in life though? The bible should give me all the answers, but how can I be sure that some mistranslation, or specific choice didn't warp the meaning of the text? If a translator decides to write the same word congregation in positive contexts, and synagogue in negative ones, wouldn't that change the message a bit? Why am I denied a perfect truth?

How do you know the current consensus on "Christian morality" is correct? : One of the main pillars of Christianity is the idea of objective morality as far as I understand. Even if a person has never heard of Jesus before, they innately have a sense for God's morality, so their sins are not excused. However, the "common morality" of Christians has not remained constant. What was considered a few hundreds of years ago to be morally acceptable by typical Christians: colonialism, marrying people far younger that what is now considered acceptable, etc, is not anymore. How do you know our "modern morality" is the correct one? How do you know secular society and its "common morality" hasn't influenced and poisoned "Christian morality"? What if people from the past were right and we're wrong, even if it's only in a few ways?

Why did God create man to be so weak and dependent? : God created man to bring glory to him, but god does not need glory because he is complete. Man needs to give god glory to elevate himself. Why though? Why did god create human beings so that they need to give him glory? Even if Adam and Eve didn't need to do so, why did God create Adam and Eve to be weak enough to succumb to temptation? In fact, why did God give humans free will at all? I looked for answers to this before, and what I found amounted to " well of course he did because you cannot love if you do not have free will". Except God isn't limited by human logic. He created logic. If he wanted to, he could make it so beings without free will can love. He can do anything what so ever with no limitations if he is all-powerful.

Those are the big three. I'm not looking for a debate and I'll accept any answers given to me.
great questions - will think and pray about your questions and reply if i have anything to say
 

Luminous_Rose

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Many many excellent questions! Since John covered some already, I will cover a few more:

What about the way i'm supposed to live in life though?
While it is true the Bible doesn't have every life scenario written word for word and what to do, we need to seek God - ask Him and keep reading his word. The Bible may not answer your question of, "Should I go to Susie's party Friday night?" But the Bible does warn about drunkenness, unwholesome talk that pulls people down, and you may need to ask yourself, "What are the intentions of this party? Will there be drunkenness? Is there a troublesome crowd of people attending?" Then you would have your answer. Action and intention is supremely important. Here is a great resource regarding what a Christian lifestyle entails:

Regarding meanings of text, it is important. It is true some translations are changed inappropriately over time by man. However, God's word will always stand true. I use the King James Bible (as this is what a lot of concordances are based off of) and use a Strong's Concordance (blueletterbible.org) to find the Hebrew and Greek meaning of words. This gives us a more accurate picture. We also need to look at writing styles. For example, Paul had an interesting philosopher writing style so this is important to find out what he is talking about. Back then, they didn't space their paragraphs like we do or add in punctuation. We all know how important punctuation is!

How do you know the current consensus on "Christian morality" is correct?
However, the "common morality" of Christians has not remained constant. What was considered a few hundreds of years ago to be morally acceptable by typical Christians: colonialism, marrying people far younger that what is now considered acceptable, etc, is not anymore. How do you know our "modern morality" is the correct one? How do you know secular society and its "common morality" hasn't influenced and poisoned "Christian morality"? What if people from the past were right and we're wrong, even if it's only in a few ways?
As far as morals, are we talking moral absolutes here? There is a difference between the idea that society and culture creates what is morally acceptable and what is acceptable by God.

For example, most people would agree that in general as an example that rape is wrong. In a society where rape is considered "acceptable", would it still be wrong? Most would say that it still is and that is because we know that there are "moral absolutes".

As Christians we understand these morals because of the 10 Commandments in Exodus 20 as a general standpoint that most are familiar with. We know that God's laws are true because God is a righteous judge.

Here are some verses I think of in light of this:

John 1:1-5
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

Hebrews 13:8
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

Why though? Why did god create human beings so that they need to give him glory?
The answer that I agree with on this is that God wanted a family (it isn't that he needs us as you have said, but he wanted to share with others) and that we could have the privilege of getting to know God and his holiness. God loves us and wanted to share with us. God also hopes that we will accept Him in our lives.

Even if Adam and Eve didn't need to do so, why did God create Adam and Eve to be weak enough to succumb to temptation? In fact, why did God give humans free will at all?
I'm not certain that "weak" is the word. Rather, that Satan is sly, convincing, and knows how to destroy. He made Eve doubt and she ate of the fruit that she soon gave to Adam who also knew better, but ate of it anyway.

If we didn't have free will, what would we be like? Some may say zombies, others may say robots, but we would be kind of mindless, wouldn't we? This isn't the type of relationship God sought with us. Rather, an interactive relationship where we fully and willfully choose Him. If we think about a man who is a father, can he force his children to love him? He could try with great abuse, but it is not his decision to make.

If we didn't have free will, I don't think we would be able to appreciate what God does for us and how much He loves us.

Some believe that maybe Adam sinning gave Jesus the opportunity to show His love for us by dying on the cross for our sins, but this is just speculation. There is no bible verse that specifically says why Adam sinned or why it was allowed so to speak.

I hope this answers some of your questions!
 

JohnDB

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What about the way i'm supposed to live in life though? The bible should give me all the answers, but how can I be sure that some mistranslation, or specific choice didn't warp the meaning of the text?
Not a chance of this happening.
The way the Bible is translated is a subject for scholars that study the Ancient Near East writings. They all have different opinions on the particulars of the way the scriptures have been translated. But the essence of the scriptures won't change for any of them.

Now when the scriptures were first penned paper and ink were exhorbitantly expensive.
The Torah (the first five books of the Bible) would cost somewhere around the same as a small house. Lots of money for a commodity based market. So, the writers condensed what was written leaving out much of the "of course" type stuff that everyone considered "common knowledge". Except today, 3,500 to 2,000+ years later and in a completely different culture that knowledge isn't common.

So the blend of art and the sciences (history, anthropology, geography, geology, topography) coming together to decipher what was said and why it was said the way that it was said is called hermeneutics.
After the "Dark Ages" there was this thing called the Reformation. One of the results was that the scriptures were proliferated to the common man without the benefits of proper hermeneutics. So differences between groups were formed.

But when proper hermeneutics are applied it becomes very obvious that God understands very much every situation man faces and his feelings at the same time. Every pain, jubilation, sorrow and joy... even the boredom and monotony of work and frustrating traffic jams.

It's not easy to understand it all...it takes time to plow through all the metaphoric language. But Jesus knows each of us on an individual basis. Knows our struggles and hopes.

And in our "information age" many denominations are slowly giving those doctrines that divide and aren't correct. In another 100 years Churches won't look the same as they do today in that the differences will be very minor. (Although like politics debated heavily)

One other thing is that most every important principal taught in the Bible is repeated. Several of them are repeated multiple times.
 
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As far as morals, are we talking moral absolutes here? There is a difference between the idea that society and culture creates what is morally acceptable and what is acceptable by God.

For example, most people would agree that in general as an example that rape is wrong. In a society where rape is considered "acceptable", would it still be wrong? Most would say that it still is and that is because we know that there are "moral absolutes".

If we didn't have free will, what would we be like? Some may say zombies, others may say robots, but we would be kind of mindless, wouldn't we?
Thank you and everybody else for your answers. I'd like to discuss these two points. While it's true that among human societies, there are some consistencies in law and taboos( among many other things), how things are defined differs by place and time period. How do you define rape? How do you define pedophilia? Murder? Theft? Slavery? Genuinely faithful christians dueled and killed each other in the past and owned slaves or indentured servants and took spoils of war. The way these things are defined has not remained constant, yet God's morality is unchanging. What if people five centuries ago had the definitions right, and we have it wrong? If how any sin is defined depends on human consensus, the meaning of idolatry or anything else can be twisted to suit human tastes and feelings.

A better version of humans seems to me like angels. Don't angels love god? Don't angels share with God and understand his love? Aren't angels part of God's family? So why make something as inferior as humans? Angels presumably know the difference between good and evil, yet they are well-equiped to handle this knowledge while humans are not.
 
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Luminous_Rose

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. How do you define rape? How do you define pedophilia? Murder? Theft? Slavery? Genuinely faithful christians dueled and killed each other in the past and owned slaves or indentured servants and took spoils of war. The way these things are defined has not remained constant, yet God's morality is unchanging.
We can still define these things today if we go look at the Hebrew here to get the best translation possible. I feel these words of theft, murder, etc. have carried on with the same meaning over time. To stand here and say that these words have changed so much over time that we now have a completely twisted or opposite meaning sounds to me like it would be making an excuse to try and avoid moral accountability for our actions. We will never escape God's true and righteous judgement. If a person murders someone and says, "Hey, judge. You know this is a big old misunderstanding. I didn't know what I did was wrong I am a good person so you need to let me go." Would a good, honest judge let you go? No, they wouldn't. In the same way, God holds us accountable for our actions. This is why God has given us the 10 commandments, to use it as a mirror for ourselves and to show that we do need Him - we cannot follow these laws without the mercy and grace He provides.

For example, for steal, we can find the Hebrew word "ganab" this is the Bible uses:

גָּנַב gânab, gaw-nab'; a primitive root; to thieve (literally or figuratively); by implication, to deceive:—carry away, ×indeed, secretly bring, steal (away), get by stealth.

Outline of Biblical Usage
  1. to steal, steal away, carry away
    1. (Qal) to steal
    2. (Niphal) to be stolen
    3. (Piel) to steal away
    4. (Pual) to be stolen away, be brought by stealth
    5. (Hithpael) to go by stealth, steal away

This still sounds like the "theft" that we know today from one of the original languages.

For murder we get ratsach:

רָצַח râtsach, raw-tsakh'; a primitive root; properly, to dash in pieces, i.e. kill (a human being), especially to murder:—put to death, kill, (man-) slay(-er), murder(-er).

to murder, slay, kill

  1. (Qal) to murder, slay
    1. premeditated
    2. accidental
    3. as avenger
    4. slayer (intentional) (participle)
  2. (Niphal) to be slain
  3. (Piel)
    1. to murder, assassinate
    2. murderer, assassin (participle)(subst)
  4. (Pual) to be killed

This sounds like the murder we know and understand to this day. I am certain our meanings of these words have not changed.

I am curious which "genuinely faithful" Christians that killed each other you are referring to. This sounds that there was something wrong here as I cannot see why two groups of Christians would kill each other or why this is okay.

Slavery is one of those things I do not agree with, and I don't think God necessarily approved of, rather I believe He put laws to protect such people.

In certain cases God didn't allow spoils of war to be taken and other times He was giving spoils of war over to certain groups of people. This is one of those case by case scenarios and depends which story is referred to.

A better version of humans seems to me like angels.
What do you mean by this? Humans and angels are different beings. I am not sure I understand this sentence.


Don't angels love god? Don't angels share with God and understand his love? Aren't angels part of God's family? So why make something as inferior as humans?
Yes, angels love God. They do have a special relationship with God. I would think they would be part of God's family as they are there to love and glorify God. They have been messengers and protectors serving God as long as they stay devoted to God. Angels are more than likely another way God shows that He loves us. If we think about it, angels are another way we can see God's love for us.

People can also make the choice to love God, too. It shows His mercy, His grace, and His love is so powerful that He could even love people that are not as powerful as Him.
 
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Michael74

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Genuinely faithful christians dueled and killed each other in the past...
This is where a defense counselor would say objection your honor, assuming facts not in evidence. These people may have called themselves Christian, but calling yourself a Christian does not make a person a Christian. These people may have even attended church on Sunday, but that does not make a person a Christian either. Go by how Lord Jesus told us to recognize Christians:

By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:35 NKJV

Don't go by what people claim. Go by whether they love each other, as Jesus instructed us to do.

We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love his brother abides in death. 1 John 3:14 NKJV

All Christians love each other. No exceptions. Anyone who claims to be a Christian, but hates his brother, is not telling the truth.

Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. 1 John 3:15 NKJV
 
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JohnDB

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how things are defined differs by place and time period. How do you define rape? How do you define pedophilia? Murder? Theft? Slavery?
I'm not sure about this assertion. It seems rather gratuitous. Where people used to get married at younger ages they also died a lot younger as well.

Genuinely faithful christians dueled and killed each other in the past and owned slaves or indentured servants and took spoils of war. The way these things are defined has not remained constant, yet God's morality is unchanging.
Are you by chance trying to discuss slavery before, during, and after the Roman Empire?
Slavery has existed in some fashion for over 4000+years of world History.
Today slavery is considered mostly illegal in most (but not all) nations. It still happens and exists.
Welfare/public assistance is a form of slavery.

And the symbolism of slavery figures heavily in scripture.
Not saying that God approved of slavery...but that hermeneutics has gotten better over the years.
It used to be that a person entered slavery due to debts and it was a deterrent to what system we have today with Bankruptcy laws. Not all slaves were mistreated. Some had retirement programs and some were adopted into families. Abuse (which is defined in scripture) was never tolerated and carried a sentence of Capitol Punishment.

People have never been perfect. God understands that. He works with people where they are and gently nudges them to where He wants them to be.
God doesn't change... error filled people do.
 
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Would a good, honest judge let you go?

I am curious which "genuinely faithful" Christians that killed each other you are referring to. This sounds that there was something wrong here as I cannot see why two groups of Christians would kill each other or why this is okay.

What do you mean by this? Humans and angels are different beings. I am not sure I understand this sentence.
If the person I killed insulted me, we agreed to duel, there was enough witnesses, and it was the right time period, I think he would. Charles Dickens or Handel or "Sir William Brooke" or the Duke of Wellington and many others probably wouldn't like being called fake Christians. I understand and appreciate your point though. Dueling was never exactly supported by any Church, so it's not a good example. There was things like witch burning though. Maybe the reason witches aren't burned anymore has nothing to do with God's wishes(or maybe hermeneutics would reveal that God didn't want that?) I'm just concerned about precision.

What I meant by bringing up angels is that they are beings which are different and lesser to God, which God loves and shares with. They have never been seperated from God by a veil and are seemingly much more competent and capable than humans. God wanted somebody to share with and he made angels, checkmark. Creating humans, especially in our lowly form, seems unnecessary.
 

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One quick word about Angels...
the word itself is a bastardization of the Latin word Angelos.
Which has it's roots in Greek of the same word.
The word simply means "Messenger".
God has used a variety of things, people, specters, and animals to send messages.
A lot of what is thought today of semi-autonomous beings is myth and poor hermeneutics and syncreticm with other religions. Sure it makes for some great fiction stories. Your famous book "The Book of Enoch" is filled with such stories and was considered to be great religious fiction at the time it was popular as it incorporated many of these myths into it's content.
Today we have such popular religious fiction still being popular. Damien, Omen series is one such religious fiction story that made it into movies. Same with Poltergeist, Amityville Horror, The Exorcist and etc. These tales are of course fiction but in 2,000 years from now who knows what people will think of these movies.

So...yeah...its one of those things where fantastic myths can seem to be real and believed by millions...but that doesn't make it so. Angels are simply messengers. Nothing more or less. And anything can be used to be a messenger...even me.
 

Michael74

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Charles Dickens or Handel or "Sir William Brooke" or the Duke of Wellington and many others probably wouldn't like being called fake Christians.
Never met any of those people, so I won't venture an opinion on whether or not they love me.

I will only say that it doesn't matter whether or not someone claims to be this or that. The only thing that matters is when they stand before the God who created them, will God let them into His heaven. Its not a word game. Its where people will spend eternity.
 

Luminous_Rose

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If the person I killed insulted me, we agreed to duel, there was enough witnesses, and it was the right time period, I think he would. Charles Dickens or Handel or "Sir William Brooke" or the Duke of Wellington and many others probably wouldn't like being called fake Christians. I understand and appreciate your point though. Dueling was never exactly supported by any Church, so it's not a good example. There was things like witch burning though. Maybe the reason witches aren't burned anymore has nothing to do with God's wishes(or maybe hermeneutics would reveal that God didn't want that?) I'm just concerned about precision.

What I meant by bringing up angels is that they are beings which are different and lesser to God, which God loves and shares with. They have never been seperated from God by a veil and are seemingly much more competent and capable than humans. God wanted somebody to share with and he made angels, checkmark. Creating humans, especially in our lowly form, seems unnecessary.
I wouldn't know exactly the beliefs of those people or what was in their hearts. I don't agree with murder and think an agreed duel isn't worth a lost life. Self defense would be a totally different matter.

We may seem "unnecessary", but isn't that the beauty of it? That God loved us so much that He would give us life, emotions, and choices to make because He wanted to share that with us. Then later He sent Jesus Christ to die on the cross for our sins out of His love for us (John 3:16-17).

If you were in a courtroom and the judge said, "You have a fine to pay of 10 million dollars or you will be locked in prison." You then would probably say, "I don't have that kind of money! I cannot pay it?" In your grief, a stranger walks in the door and says, "Judge, I will pay this 10 million dollar fine! I have given up everything I own to pay it." That would make you feel good and relieved, right? In a similar way, Jesus paid our fine by dying on the cross for our sins. This means God can legally dismiss our case and we can get into Heaven one day if we turn our lives around to serve Him, pray for forgiveness and let God know what is on your heart, believe that Jesus Christ died for our sins, and read The Holy Bible and do what it tells us.
 
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One quick word about Angels...
the word itself is a bastardization of the Latin word Angelos.
Which has it's roots in Greek of the same word.
The word simply means "Messenger".
God has used a variety of things, people, specters, and animals to send messages.
A lot of what is thought today of semi-autonomous beings is myth and poor hermeneutics and syncreticm with other religions. Sure it makes for some great fiction stories. Your famous book "The Book of Enoch" is filled with such stories and was considered to be great religious fiction at the time it was popular as it incorporated many of these myths into it's content.
Gabriel, Michael and Satan aren't human though, right? Is the entire concept of seraphim and cherubs and other otherworldly servants of God just poor hermeneutics? I've never heard this before. Is it common knowledge among Christians? Shouldn't it be?
 

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What is the correct canonicity and how do you know? : The book of Enoch is one example of a book with debatable canonicity.
Actually, there is almost no debate except what constitutes “canon”. Let’s stick with the New Testament, since we are talking about Christianity. Outside of a handful of modern scholars that wish to second guess everything that scripture states, there are three classes of books that have been known to church scholars from the earliest centuries.

The first group is those books written by Apostles and the companions of apostles that were collected together and passed around by the Early Church from a time when there were still people living who could confirm that those were the letters delivered by the Apostles. This first group of texts comprise the Protestant Bibles with their 66 books.

The second group of texts are those recognized as not meeting the criteria of the first group but often having some historical significance. Maccabees falls into this group. These books often contain a mixture of information that agrees with the first group and information that is not correct. The Catholic and Orthodox Bibles include these books in a collection called the Apocrypha.

The third group of texts are frauds. Books written long after the events as works of complete fiction. The DaVinci Code is based on stories from these books.
 

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Gabriel, Michael and Satan aren't human though, right? Is the entire concept of seraphim and cherubs and other otherworldly servants of God just poor hermeneutics? I've never heard this before. Is it common knowledge among Christians? Shouldn't it be?
The answers are highly difficult to explain.
A Seraphim is a representation of God's wisdom.
a Satan is opposition to God.
Cherubim are God's kids...or literally "Cherished ones of God"
Michael is a question with an obvious answer or statement...it is kinda unclear but Michael is Hebrew for "Who is Like God" The answer to the question is "No one"...except for Jesus and since Jesus hadn't been revealed at this time...it could be a reference to a theophany AKA Pre-incarnate Jesus. (God can travel through time in the same manner we might walk across a room) That isn't to say that Jesus is an arch-Angel or some other such nonsense as the Jehovah Witnesses profess...Just that the statement refers to God himself.
Gabriel is also a special case...His name means "Strength of God" in Hebrew and he is seen throughout the centuries with only one job and that is to announce the coming of Jesus.

Churches for years and decades have been led by pastors who teach "at the will" of the congregation. Telling the congregation what they don't want to hear will get you removed from your job where you have to give 10% back to your employer every payday. And not everyone is cut out for biblical scholarship. Some bulbs burn brighter than others...and hungry pastors won't broach the subjects even if they have bothered to do the time studying the subject. And then they are usually busy with meetings and planning meetings and bible studies by some of the more popular people in the church and making sure that there are enough day care workers, the janitors are taken care of, the Music Minister is singing appropriate songs on Sunday and then all the people who come by the Pastor's office who "Just thought that the Pastor ought to know something about so-and-so".
Pastors are skilled more in counseling than scriptures these days. Have been for decades. There are a few...but not many. There are however; research scientists who look at the scriptures and publish papers on various topics. I happen to know a few reliable scholars such as these. And where some of them don't actually dive into some of my favored fields of study they do bring up interesting tid-bits and the proofs of their research. They are the ones that know. The average "Pew Warmer"? probably not.

Zoarastrianism was a dualistic religion that founded many of these myths of the Persian Empire which conquered Israel. Many of these types were blended into Judaism of the barely literate of the Israeli population. There were various denominations of Judaism when Jesus was on Ministry. The Pharisees, Sadducees, Essenes, Zealotes, and there was one other at least but I can't remember their name(s).
The Pharisees were great at telling people whatever it was that they wanted to hear. If they represented a very conservative group they were extremely conservative...if they represented a very liberal group they were liberal. Essenes were really really conservative and they were into wearing white, ritual bathing and creating copies of books and scriptures. (The first Kibbitz) Sadducees were the group of Levites that were actually responsible for the synagogues, libraries, and Temple. They considered themselves to be the elite of Judaism (because of the libraries) Rome placed them in charge because they didn't/wouldn't do anything to stir anyone up. They were rather arrogant because their custom greeting to anyone not a Sadduccee was "You know nothing at all". And that was how you knew who and what you were addressing when talking with them.

Anyway, these priests (and their scores of lawyers, and legal clerks, and outspoken rabbis) knew that their game was played by being popular. So when people liked the notion of "Good vx Evil" and Light vx Dark...Angels vx Demons...these guys didn't disagree so wholeheartedly. They kinda went along with it. So much so that some guys got the idea of selling exorcisms. They would give a patron a hallucinogenic potion (made from wormwood, which was highly addictive as well) and they could then see these evil spirits and help the exorcist remove them.
The patrons returned over and over again...completely addicted to the potion.
Jesus played "Exorcist" too...except Jesus never had any potions, never charged a fee...and his "patrons" remained healed. The Wild Man at Gadarenes who was supposedly posessed by Legion...he proselytized for Jesus so much that when Jerusalem fell in 70 AD the Christians of Jerusalem found a home there and a huge Christian community welcoming them. The Jews didn't fare as well.

So...when I say that this takes time and research and study. IT DOES.
The answers aren't as simple as you would like. They are complicated and relevant to the scriptures they are found in. I have given you a few answers of the many instances demons and angels are mentioned. Each section is a case-by-case study to see what is really going on. (WIRGO)
But the bottom line isn't really about what others believe...
Its about YOU. What are you going to do about Jesus?

Homer's Oddesy doesn't have the same number of copies that scripture does...nor the same arguments. But nobody seems to be up in arms about it because it's meaningless entertainment. But Scriptures tell you about your Creator...what He wants from YOU and WHY.
And you have to ask yourself...
Why would someone make this stuff up and spend (equivalent in today's money) millions of dollars on books and then spend their lives instead of giving up on their religious beliefs. This isn't suicide bombing by depressed people conned into wearing a vest someone else made...they faced down kings, leaders, generals and never-do-wells. Why would they do so when it was painfully obvious that they were never going to get rich from any of this? They did good to get an occasional meal.
 
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There are however; research scientists who look at the scriptures and publish papers on various topics.
This is all very interesting. Thank you very much for the information. One last thing, are all of these research scientists and other knowledgeable academics in this field Christians themselves?
 

JohnDB

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This is all very interesting. Thank you very much for the information. One last thing, are all of these research scientists and other knowledgeable academics in this field Christians themselves?
Most all of them are.
The contributors to JANES (Journal of Ancient Near East Studies) may not be.

But use some prudence when considering the weight of a researcher. I have found that experts in ancient American cultures seem to feel qualified to expound upon the Ancient Near East...as if. The two are radically different.

Todd Patterson PHD is one such researcher that I have found to be reliable. Some of his papers haven't yet been published or peer reviewed yet for various reasons. But what has been made public is usually very good stuff.

Wescott and Hort also have several "commentaries" on scriptures and were experts in Ancient Near East literature (not scripture) and give some real insights to the other writings alluded to in scripture.
 
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for_his_glory

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Hi John Doe Smith and welcome to CF and pray you find your answers :wave2

I can't add a whole lot more than all that of what Luminous_Rose and JohnDB have given you so far.

Reading through all of this John 21:5 came to mind.

John 21:25 And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen.

When we read from Genesis to Revelations these are letters and not books written by the Prophets and the Disciples/Apostles as God inspired them what to write for us to learn. They were not written in our English language or grammar, but translated into English as book, chapter and verse numbered and punctuation added.

Our English language can give many definitions for one single word that can change the whole meaning of a sentence and this has caused much division and confusion within the various denominations and non-denominations as I am sure you have noticed within your seeking answers. That is why it is so important to take a chapter at a time reading verse by verse, word by word in order to understand the full context of what has already been written by the Prophets and Apostles.


2 Timothy 2:15 Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 16 But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness.

When Jesus ascended up to heaven He sent down the Holy Spirit who is our teacher who will teach us all truths. You will learn more about Spiritual rebirth and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit when you read the book of John in the Bible, which might be a good place to start. This will show you who Jesus is, the purpose for His coming and why we need the Holy Spirit as apart from the Holy Spirit man can teach us nothing.

Anyway, keep seeking and keep asking questions as that is how we grow in the knowledge of God and His Son Jesus

God bless you on your journey and never be afraid to ask us anything.:)
 

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