Columns Opinion Thomas Reese: Signs of the Times

As the world appears to turn upside down (again), Advent is here

Demonstrators clash with police in Paris, France, on Dec. 8, 2018. Crowds of protesters angry at President Emmanuel Macron and France's high taxes tried to converge on the presidential palace Saturday, some scuffling with police firing tear gas, amid exceptional security measures aimed at preventing a repeat of last week's rioting. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

(RNS) — Hope is a difficult virtue to maintain these days, when the future seems uncertain and religious and political leaders have lost all credibility.

Religion has either become irrelevant or a cause of conflict, rather than a source of idealism and reconciliation. In the First World, young people continue to abandon religious faith, while elsewhere religious zealots lead their fanatical followers to battle against those who do not share their beliefs.

In the Catholic Church, the bishops are not trusted by the people, and even Pope Francis is questioned about his response to the sex abuse crisis. American evangelicals are criticized for being more interested in propping up Trump than in proclaiming gospel values.

In the world of politics, we see an inability to deal with the real issues of our day: climate change, economic injustice and conflict among peoples.

We see partisan divisions and political chaos: in France over a tax on energy, in Britain over Brexit, and in most of Europe over refugees. Right-wing parties have captured the governments of the Philippines, Brazil, Italy and Hungary and threaten the governments of Austria, France, Germany, Spain, Poland and even the Netherlands.

Historians are recalling the chaos that preceded the Fascist takeover prior to World War II.

Political and economic elites, who have prospered under globalization, appear to be blind to the suffering of those who have lost jobs and have no hope for the future because they don’t have the skills to operate in this new world.

The ground has been prepared for a revolution. Progressives always thought that the revolution, when it came, would be led by the left. But the rise of right-wing governments suggests that many people regard the left as bankrupt as well. And left or right, voters don’t trust the wealthy elite or their governments.

When French President Emmanuel Macron tried to raise energy taxes — something every economist recommends as a way of dealing with global warming — the people revolted. His credibility with ordinary citizens, who would have to pay more for gasoline, was nil because he had recently cut taxes for the rich. Giving the rich a tax break while increasing taxes on low-income citizens was both grossly unjust and politically stupid.

Justice requires that the rich pay more in taxes, not less. The only way people will accept an energy tax is if the money collected is returned to those hardest hit by the higher energy costs.

An fully lit Advent wreath. Photo by Steve Grant/Creative Commons

The Old Testament prophets, whom we hear during Advent, also spoke to people in doubt about their future. They had bad rulers; they experienced defeat; and they were taken into exile.

The prophets excoriated their religious and political leaders, but they also offered hope and comfort to those suffering. The central message was, “God is on your side.” This also is the central message of Advent and Christmas. It is the central message of Jesus.

When Jesus preached, he did not preach about himself, as today’s politicians do. He preached about his Father and his Father’s love and mercy. He preached about the reign of God, the kingdom of God. It is this that gives us hope — God is on our side.

Some of Jesus’ followers thought that his teaching presaged a political kingdom where they would all end up with cushy jobs with lots of money and honors — like people working in a political campaign. Later, Christians equated the kingdom of God with heaven, which meant ignoring injustice here on earth.

For Jesus, the foundation of the reign of God is justice. And from justice come peace and joy. Prosperity that is not based on justice is a house built on sand: It will not last because without justice there cannot be true peace. Likewise, piety without justice is not true peace.

As Pope Paul VI said, “If you want peace, work for justice.”

Christmas is more than a reminder of a historical event, the coming of Jesus more than 2,000 years ago. Advent reminds us, in preparation for Christmas, that John the Baptist and Jesus proclaimed the coming of the reign of God. Jesus not only preached the reign of God, he initiated it with his life, death and resurrection and his sending of the Spirit.

Empowered by the Spirit, it is our job to continue and expand the reign of God until Jesus comes again.

During Advent, we do not just prepare for the birthday of Jesus. We celebrate the reign of God, which is present in the world through Jesus, but which also needs to be spread and further incarnated in and through our lives. Our hope is founded on the love of the Father, the work of Jesus and the power of the Spirit.

The reign of God is strengthened and spread when our love more and more abounds and when the harvest of justice ripens in our hearts and in our world. This is how we prepare the way of the Lord. This is what Advent is all about.

About the author

Thomas Reese

The Rev. Thomas J. Reese, a Jesuit priest, is a Senior Analyst at RNS. Previously he was a columnist at the National Catholic Reporter (2015-17) and an associate editor (1978-85) and editor in chief (1998-2005) at America magazine. He was also a senior fellow at the Woodstock Theological Center at Georgetown University (1985-98 & 2006-15) where he wrote Archbishop, A Flock of Shepherds, and Inside the Vatican. Earlier he worked as a lobbyist for tax reform. He has a doctorate in political science from the University of California Berkeley. He entered the Jesuits in 1962 and was ordained a priest in 1974 after receiving a M.Div from the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley.

95 Comments

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  • I love the season of Advent, even though it gets overshadowed by Christmas, which secular society begins celebrating before Thanksgiving. Ugh. That’s like singing “Happy Birthday” to someone every day for a month before their actual birthday. Churches feel the pressure to conform to secular society and sing Christmas carols during Advent, which is a shame, since there are some nice Advent hymns. The ancient hymn”O come, O come, Emmanuel” is one of my favorites. Here is a recording of the earliest known version of that hymn which was found in a French monastery in the 15th century sung in two parts by women. Presumably is was first sung by nuns.

    Hint: turn up the volume all the way because it starts out very softly, like a procession beginning far off and then getting closer and closer.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=892AsEfX1Gc

    Happy Advent!

  • I prefer the traditional songs that evoke the true spirit of the season. You know, like “Baby, it’s Cold Outside.”

    [Note for the humor impaired. Yes, I’m kidding.]

  • Advent is a tough sell. It’s a home-cooked meal in a fast food world. But it is a rich, fulfilling season when we invest time, reflection and prayer in it. I much recommend the traditional Liturgy of the Hours seasonal prayers for Advent. They’d just beautiful.

    Advent is one reason why the “Merry Christmas” vs. “Happy Holidays” thing doesn’t make sense to me. It isn’t the true Christmas season yet and it won’t be until Dec. 24th. So many of those who get their knickers in a twist over not being greeted with “Merry Christmas” seem to be devoted not to Christmas but to the Christmas shopping season.

  • The way to turn the world right side up is to stop wishing and start doing. The problem with Advent is that it focuses on wishes when what is needed is concrete action!

  • “Religion has either become irrelevant or a cause of conflict, rather than a source of idealism and reconciliation.”

    Sorry to hear about your world. In mine religion is quite relevant and more often an instrument of reconciliation than conflict.

    “Justice requires that the rich pay more in taxes, not less.”

    Justice requires that each pay his due. Whether that requires that the rich pay more taxes requires some analysis rather than a knee jerk slogan.

    “Empowered by the Spirit, it is our job to continue and expand the reign of God until Jesus comes again.”

    That would seem to leave out cutting deals with evil, which was the suggestion of your last article.

    Somehow one does not get the impression that you’re the right man to teach us about Advent.

  • The Latin word “adventus” translates the Greek word “parousia”, which means arrival or coming.

    Advent anticipates the coming of Christ from three different perspectives: in the flesh in Bethlehem, in our hearts daily, and in glory at the end of time.

    Christians who observe Advent engage in works of charity and penance, recollecting the coming of Christ in history, preparing their hearts to live the Christian message in their lives, to prepare the world for Christ’s coming in the future.

    It is about doing, not wishing.

  • Does every good thing need a Biblical basis? It’s implicit in the Hebrew Scriptures, the idea of waiting for God’s deliverance, the Messiah, etc.

  • The only way to turn the world right side up will be the concrete action by God’s kingdom, or heavenly government, as Jesus called it and mostly preached about (Matthew 4:17), when it soon intervenes in man’s affairs.

    It will first put an end to and replace all human governments (Daniel 2:44).

    It will then start its loving and peaceful rule over all meek persons on earth, after putting an end to all wicked ones (Isaiah 11:1-5), by its heavenly King, Christ Jesus (Isaiah 9:6, 7).

    Its rule will provide worldwide peace to all (Micah 4:3,4); as well as end all sickness, disease, old age, and even death on earth (Revelation 21:3, 4).

    None of these blessings will ever be realized by man and his imperfect, corrupt, selfish, and greedy governments.

  • Another waste of time is advent just as is the non-historical event of Luke’s mythmas tale!!

  • “Nineteenth-century agnostic Robert G. Ingersoll branded Revelation “the insanest of all books”.[30] Thomas Jefferson omitted it along with most of the Biblical canon, from the Jefferson Bible, and wrote that at one time, he “considered it as merely the ravings of a maniac, no more worthy nor capable of explanation than the incoherences of our own nightly dreams.” [31]

    Martin Luther once “found it an offensive piece of work” and John Calvin “had grave doubts about its value.”[32]

  • You mean like reading comments by people who say the same thing over and over again. That kind of waste of time?

  • Honestly, they’re making me crazy. They’re undefeated, but just by the skin of their teeth. Too many close games with mediocre teams. They’ve got a lot of talent, but they’re not a team yet. Bill will get them whipped into shape.

    Good luck to your Crimson Tide in the playoffs. Not that they’ll need it.

  • The NT passages have been thrown at us for the last 1500 years. Time for payback. Merry Mythmas!

  • No, “I want a pony for my birthday” is a wish. Hope is an attitude. It’s the conviction that, no matter how dark things appear, the light will return. It’s a virtue that permeates one’s life and influences one’s choices.

  • Well said, Rocky. The word in biblical Greek is “elpis,” which has the connotation of “confidence, expectation.”

  • Somehow one does not get the impression that you’re the right man to teach us about reconciliation, charity or penance.

  • That’s all you’ve got, isn’t it? Babbling on sites like this to make yourself feel important. Get a life.

  • By the way, the people of France recently put that Global Warming Kool-Aid Cultist, Mr. Macron, “right side up” again.

    It seems that when you set fire to Paris for ripping off all the poor people in the name of Global Warming, these EU Macron types finally dial down their Scam a little.

  • A wish is an attitude. Ever here of wishful thinking? The difference is that a hope thinks it knows the answer or solution to the problem that it is “hoping” to solve. A wish makes no such assumption. Such as I hope my friend/Dad/husband gets here quick to rescue me. I wish someone would get me out of here.

    A hope does indeed permeate one’s life and influences one’s choices–though not always for the better. Same with wishes! All hopes are wishes. Not all wishes are hopes.

    You might read what monicadeangelis says below–from the Greek the word has the connotation of “confidence, expectation”–because you have the answer to the problem. The wish doesn’t have the answer and doesn’t share the confidence which is good where that confidence is misplaced in a fantasy or dream.

  • Confidence does not mean one believes they have the answer. It only means that one believes there is an answer. I believe that’s the kind of confidence Monica was referring to.

    The opposite of hope is hopelessness, as in despair. Surely you’re not promoting that as a worthy attitude.

    If you don’t want to think of hope as a religious or spiritual value, then don’t. I would never suggest that only those who practice religion could possess such a virtue. But I firmly believe that human beings need hope.

  • Now at least you are talking fairly and opening a conversation.

    Confidence depends on what you place your confidence/trust/belief on–that there is an answer, that such and such is the answer, it can even be that there is no answer at this time because we don’t have all the information we need to make a decision! Or that there is no answer. That is what you might call despair/hopelessness/cynicism.

    Hope is indeed seen by religious folk as a spiritual value. It is also seen by non religious folk as a value. In my opinion Hope/Wishes are only as good as what you do next!

    Now lets get back to my original point. I said what is needed is action not wishes or hopes. You haven’t said whether you think that action is needed. OR do you think people should just have hope!

  • Just out of curiosity, when was I talking unfairly?

    Yes, religious people understand hope as a spiritual value. We all see things through the lens of our particular worldview and/or belief system. But that doesn’t mean that religious people are necessarily hostile to those who see things differently. Personally, I celebrate common ground wherever I can find it, and someone doesn’t have to agree with my perspective to have my respect.

    As for action, yes, certainly that is required. But not knee-jerk, random, chaotic action. Action should be purposeful and consistent with one’s sincere belief in what constitutes the best course. Anything that aids one in forming that purposeful action is, in my book, healthy. For me, the season of Advent, which nurtures hope in a world struggling with hopelessness, is one of those aids.

  • Christmas (Mythmas), the embellished story of the birth of a simple,
    preacher man named Jesus.

    As per many contemporary NT exegetes, his parents were Mary
    and Joseph although some say Jesus was a mamzer, the result of a pre-marital
    relationship between Mary and a Roman soldier.

    http:// www. earlychristianwritings.com/theories.html

    Jesus was not born in Bethlehem at least the one we are
    familiar with and there were no pretty wingie thingies singing from on high, no
    slaughter of the innocents by Herod, no visiting wise men and no escape to
    Egypt.

    Mark’s gospel, the most historical of the four gospels, does not even mention the
    event.

    And from Professor Gerd Ludemann in his book, Jesus After 2000 Years, pp. 269-272,
    “The historical yield of the Lukan infancy narrative in respect to the birth of Jesus is
    virtually nil (ditto for Matt. 1: 18-25, Matt. 2. 1-23)”

    http://wiki.faithfutures.org/index.php?title=007_Of_Davids_Lineage

    Conclusion: Christmas is historically a non-event. Ditto for the Feast of the Magi and
    the solemnity of Mary aka New Years day.

  • Fran, The Jehovah’s Witnesses is a fairly new Christin sect, 1800s. You lot have made up your own days of commemoration. The liturgical calendar developed over a few hundred of the Church’s first years. It in part teaches events in the life of Christ; conception, advent, birth, circumcision, youth, baptism, ministry, arrest, trial & execution, burial & resurrection, ascension and gift of the Holy Spirit. The other cycle of the calendar emphasizes the major teachings of Christ.

    Jumping in here with your loaded questions based in JW belief isn’t going to win you any brownie points.

  • I cannot define it, since I asked what the Scriptural basis is for it, and David Allen did not provide an answer to my question.

  • It any man judges this book of the Bible, Revelation, adversely or doubtful, including any other book in the Bible, that is only his loss.

    “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16).

    That includes the inspired truths found in Revelation. The prophecies discussed therein will take place according to God’s timetable, God, his Word, and all his promises, will also be completely vindicated.

  • Some suggestion for your perusal:

    1. Historical Jesus Theories,
    earlychristianwritings.com/theories.html – the names of many of the
    contemporary historical Jesus scholars and the titles of their over 100 books
    on the subject.

    Early Christian Writings,
    earlychristianwritings.com/

    – a list of early Christian doc-uments to include the year of publication–

    30-60 CE Passion Narrative

    40-80 Lost Sayings Gospel Q

    50-60 1 Thessalonians

    50-60 Philippians

    50-60 Galatians

    50-60 1 Corinthians

    50-60 2 Corinthians

    50-60 Romans

    50-60 Philemon

    50-80 Colossians

    50-90 Signs Gospel

    50-95 Book of Hebrews

    50-120 Didache

    50-140 Gospel of Thomas

    50-140 Oxyrhynchus 1224 Gospel

    50-200 Sophia of Jesus Christ

    65-80 Gospel of Mark

    70-100 Epistle of James

    70-120 Egerton Gospel

    70-160 Gospel of Peter

    70-160 Secret Mark

    70-200 Fayyum Fragment

    70-200 Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs

    73-200 Mara Bar Serapion

    80-100 2 Thessalonians

    80-100 Ephesians

    80-100 Gospel of Matthew

    80-110 1 Peter

    80-120 Epistle of Barnabas

    80-130 Gospel of Luke

    80-130 Acts of the Apostles

    80-140 1 Clement

    80-150 Gospel of the Egyptians

    80-150 Gospel of the Hebrews

    80-250 Christian Sibyllines

    90-95 Apocalypse of John

    90-120 Gospel of John

    90-120 1 John

    90-120 2 John

    90-120 3 John

    90-120 Epistle of Jude

    93 Flavius Josephus

    100-150 1 Timothy

    100-150 2 Timothy

    100-150 T-itus

    100-150 Apocalypse of Peter

    100-150 Secret Book of James

    100-150 Preaching of Peter

    100-160 Gospel of the Ebionites

    100-160 Gospel of the Nazoreans

    100-160 Shepherd of Hermas

    100-160 2 Peter

    4. Jesus Database,
    http://www.faithfutures.org/JDB/intro.html –”The JESUS DATABASE is an
    online a-nnotated inventory of the traditions concerning the life and teachings
    of Jesus that have survived from the first three centuries of the Common Era.
    It includes both canonical and extra-canonical materials, and is not limited to
    the traditions found within the Christian New Testament.”

    5. Josephus on Jesus mtio.com/articles/bissar24.htm

    6. The Jesus Seminar, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jesus_Seminar

    7.
    http://www.biblicalartifacts.com/items/785509/item785509biblicalartifacts.html
    – books on the health and illness during the time of the NT

    8. Economics in First Century Palestine, K.C. Hanson and D. E. Oakman,
    Palestine in the Time of Jesus, Fortress Press, 1998.

    9.The Gnostic Jesus

    (Part One in a Two-Part Series on A-ncient and Modern G-nosticism)

    by Douglas Groothuis:
    http://www.equip.o-rg/articles/gnosticism-and-the-gnostic-jesus/
    10. The interpretation of the Bible in the Church, Pontifical Biblical Commission

    Presented on March 18, 1994

    ewtn.com/library/CURIA/PBCINTER.HTM#2

  • Based on these and analogous references, you will after finishing your perusals be able to see the veracity of the following:

    The Apostles’ Creed 2018: (updated by yours truly and based on the studies of
    historians and theologians of the past 200 years)

    Should I believe in a god whose existence cannot be proven
    and said god if he/she/it exists resides in an unproven,
    human-created, spirit state of bliss
    called heaven??

    I believe there was a 1st century CE, Jewish, simple,
    preacher-man who was conceived by a Jewish carpenter
    named Joseph living in Nazareth and born of a young Jewish
    girl named Mary. (Some say he was a
    mamzer.)

    Jesus was summarily crucified for being a temple rabble-rouser by
    the Roman troops in Jerusalem serving under Pontius Pilate,

    He was buried in an unmarked grave and still lies
    a-mouldering in the ground somewhere outside of
    Jerusalem.

    Said Jesus’ story was embellished and “mythicized” by
    many semi-fiction writers. A descent
    into Hell, a bodily resurrection and
    ascension stories were promulgated to compete with the
    Caesar myths. Said stories were so popular that they
    grew into a religion known today as Catholicism/Christianity
    and featuring dark-age, daily wine to blood and bread to body rituals
    called the eucharistic sacrifice of the non-atoning Jesus.

    Amen

    (References used are available upon request. See for example the previous references)

  • The readings for the Advent season recount the prophecies of the coming of a Messiah in the Old Testament and the events leading up to the birth of Jesus in the New Testament, the lectionaries for Advent provide the Scriptural basis.

    The lectionary in general use has three yearly cycles, A, B, and C:

    https://lectionary.library.vanderbilt.edu/lections.php?year=A&season=Advent

    https://lectionary.library.vanderbilt.edu/lections.php?year=B&season=Advent

    https://lectionary.library.vanderbilt.edu/lections.php?year=C&season=Advent

  • Reread your first comment. That wasn’t a comment that invited fair dialogue!

    You said action should be “purposeful and consistent with one’s sincere belief”. In your mind does this mean that it is okay to deny homosexuals their right to marry because it is “one’s sincere belief” that homosexual marriage is wrong?

    In your mind does this mean an employer has a right to determine what an employees health insurance can or can not cover based on “one’s sincere belief”?

    Before answering those consider this question as well. Should an employer be allowed to deny a job to a Christian based on “one’s sincere belief” that Christianity is wrong?

  • I’m still not sure what you mean by “fair dialogue,” but whatever.

    I’m not going to go through a litmus test of my positions on various issues, which isn’t the topic. Suffice it to say that I have no interest in discriminating against anyone based on sexual orientation and I am fully committed to the principle of separation of church and state.

    My comment about sincere belief was about acting consistently and conscientiously and making sure that actions are thoughtful and not half-baked or random. If you want to read something sinister into that, be my guest.

    I think we’ve pretty much exhausted this topic so I’m moving on. Until next time.

  • One of the chief justices of the Supreme Court commented during the Hobby Lobby hearings that he could tell that the Hobby Lobby folks were “sincere in their beliefs”. White Supremacists can be considered to be “sincere in their beliefs”. The proponents of slavery were “sincere in their beliefs”. Republicans that insist that trickle down economics works are “sincere in their beliefs”. Trump is (I think) “sincere in his beliefs”.

    Deciding that “being sincere in one’s beliefs” justifies and sanctifies one’s actions is wrong.

  • Now who’s being unfair? When did I ever say that being sincere in one’s beliefs necessarily makes one right? I only said that actions should be consistent with conscience and not random or based on impulse. In other words, it’s not enough to just act. One must reflect on one’s actions.

    Okay, moving on for real this time. Have a nice day.

  • There’s a line in the original lyrics that could be interpreted as the man slipping some kind of drug into her drink, a la Bill Cosby. I get the concern, though I have no doubt the original intent of the song was innocent. Still, it does represent a kind of outmoded notion about male dominance and breaking down the will of women.

    What cracks me up is how many people are suddenly lining up to defend the song as if it’s some kind of sacred Christmas hymn under assault. A song about a guy trying to score! And one that has nothing to do with Christmas to boot.

  • I still think it’s a nice song, particularly when sung by the handsome Darren Criss on the video I posted.

  • Oh, for God’s sake. Everyone on earth knows these things. What rock did you crawl out from, thinking you’re telling us something new?

  • 11. The Jesus Database- newer site:

    wiki.faithfutures.org/index.php?title=Jesus_Database

    12. Jesus Database with the example of Supper and Eucharist:

    faithfutures.org/JDB/jdb016.html

    13. Josephus on Jesus by Paul Maier:

    mtio.com/articles/bissar24.htm

    13. http://www.textweek.com/mtlk/jesus.htmm- Historical Jesus Studies

    14. The Greek New Testament: laparola.net/greco/

    15. D-iseases in the Bible:

    http://books.google.com/books/about/The_d-iseases_of_the_Bible.html?id=C1YZAAAAYAAJ

    16.
    Religion on- Line (6000 articles on the h-story of religion, churches,
    theologies,

    theologians, ethics, etc. religion-online.org/

    17.
    The New Testament Gateway – Internet NT ntgate-way.com/

    18
    Writing the New Testament- existing copies, oral tradition etc.

    ntgat-eway.com/

    19. JD Crossan’s c-onclusions about the authencity of most of the
    NT based on the above plus the c-onclusions of other NT exegetes in the last
    200 years:

    http://wiki.faithfutures.o-rg/index.p-hp?title=Crossan_Inventory

    20. Early Jewish Writings- Josephus and his books by title with the
    complete translated work in English :earlyjewishwritings.com/josephus.html

  • 21. Luke and Josephus- was there a connection?

    in-fidels.org/library/modern/richard_carrier/lukeandjosephus.html

    22. NT and beyond time line:

    pbs.org/empires/peterandpaul/history/timeline/

    23. St. Paul’s Time line with discussion of important events:

    harvardhouse.com/prophetictech/new/pauls_life.htm

    24. See http://www.amazon.com for a list of JD Crossan’s books and
    those of the other Jesus Seminarians: Reviews of said books are included and
    selected pages can now be viewed on Amazon. Some books can be found on-line at
    Google Books.

    25. Father Edward Schillebeeckx’s words of wisdom as found in his
    books.

    27. The books of the following : Professors Gerd Ludemann, Marcus
    Borg, Paula Fredriksen, Elaine Pagels, Karen Armstrong and Bishop NT Wright.

    28. Father Raymond Brown’s An Introduction to the New Testament, Doubleday, NY,
    1977, 878 pages, with Nihil obstat and Imprimatur.

    29. Luke Timothy Johnson’s book The Real Jesus

    “Did Jesus Exist?: The Historical Argument
    for Jesus of Nazareth [Hardcover]

    Bart D. Ehrman (Author)

    Large numbers of atheists, humanists, and conspiracy
    theorists are raising one of the most pressing questions in the history of
    religion: “Did Jesus exist at all?” Was he invented out of whole
    cloth for nefarious purposes by those seeking to control the masses? Or was
    Jesus such a shadowy figure—far removed from any credible historical
    evidence—that he bears no meaningful resemblance to the person described in the
    Bible?

  • Your seventh grade knowledge of religion would be impressive to sixth graders. Not to adults. There are far better, far more recent studies out there.

  • You implied that as long as an action is “purposeful and consistent with sincere beliefs” it is okay in your opinion. I simply point out there needs to be more in determining whether an action is good or bad, because can be purposeful and consistent with sincerely held beliefs.

  • And as a continuing “mythmas”/advent gift to one and all , The Great Kibosh of All Religions:

    Putting the kibosh on all religion in less than ten seconds: Priceless !!!

    As far as one knows or can tell, there was no Abraham i.e. the foundations of Judaism,
    Christianity and Islam are non-existent.

    As far as one knows or can tell, there was no Moses i.e the pillars of Judaism,
    Christianity and Islam have no strength of purpose.

    There was no Gabriel i.e.Islam fails as a religion. Christianity partially fails.

    There was no Easter i.e. Christianity completely fails as a religion.

    There was no Moroni i.e. Mormonism is nothing more than a business cult.

    Sacred/revered cows, monkey gods, castes, reincarnations and therefore Hinduism fails as a religion.

    Fat Buddhas here, skinny Buddhas there, reincarnated/reborn Buddhas everywhere makes for a no on
    Buddhism.

    A constant cycle of reincarnation until enlightenment is reached and belief that various beings
    (angels?, tinkerbells? etc) exist that we, as mortals, cannot comprehend makes for a no on Sikhism.

    Added details available upon written request.

    A quick search will put the kibosh on any other groups
    calling themselves a religion.

    e.g. Taoism

    “The origins of Taoism are unclear. Traditionally,
    Lao-tzu who lived in the sixth century is regarded as its founder. Its early
    philosophic foundations and its later beliefs and rituals are two completely
    different ways of life. Today (1982) Taoism claims 31,286,000 followers.

    Legend says that Lao-tzu was immaculately conceived by a shooting star; carried in his mother’s womb for
    eighty-two years; and born a full grown wise old man. “

  • Scroll up the page to see a copy of The Great Kibosh of All Religions that even a first grader would understand.

  • Sorry, Charley, you’re not going to get my goat with insults. If you want to debate this rationally, with real scholarship instead of Wikipedia, let’s do it. We’ll take the Greek text of Matthew and Luke 1-2 and comment on them, word for word, with reference to the Hebrew antecedents. I’m ready whenever you are.

    Here’s the opening verse: Ἐν δὲ τῷ μηνὶ τῷ ἕκτῳ ἀπεστάλη ὁ ἄγγελος Γαβριὴλ ἀπὸ τοῦ θεοῦ εἰς πόλιν τῆς Γαλιλαίας ἧ ὄνομα Ναζαρὲθ.” I’ll stipulate that there are textual differences between the SInaiticus and Vaticanus codices, but the Nestle-Aland translation is generally acceptable to exegetes, so let’s use it.

    Let me know when you’re ready.

  • All vitiated by the Great Kibosh.

    With respect to expertise on Greek versions of the NT, see the studies of Professor J. D. Crossan to include rigorous testing of all the passages of the NT.

  • See? We knew it. You know nothing. Just some buzzwords. Want to discuss the works of John Dominic Crossan? Let’s do it.

  • Been there done that. Tis mind boggling how easy it is to discredit all religions although JD’s studies were of great help in prepping the Great Kibosh, right up there with the buzzwords of the Ten commandments. Merry Mythmas to one and all!

  • I’m sorry that you missed the content of my post. The Christian Church’s liturgical calendar isn’t mandated in scripture, it developed as a way of observing “events in the life of Christ; conception, advent, birth, circumcision, youth, baptism, ministry, arrest, trial & execution, burial & resurrection, ascension and gift of the Holy Spirit and the major teachings of Christ,” which are taught in scripture.

    The lectionary readings that Mark C has linked to below for the three years of the Revised Common Lectionary are scripture readings usually meant to emphasize the particular “season” the church is observing. Some churches use the RCL as is, and some use a variation of it developed by their particular sect or denomination.

    Some denominations, as well as, independent churches, don’t use it at all.

    With the 1st Sunday in Advent this year (2 DEC 2018,) we began using the readings for Year C.

  • Except that the Apocalypse of John isn’t prophesy about some mystical future, it was a coded message to the Christians of John’s own place and time regarding the Roman empire, likely during the time of Nero.

  • Dear Wikipedia Willy : Fine If you’re familiar with Crossan’s work, then let’s discuss his thesis that the Coptic Gospel of Thomas (not the Hebrew one) should be dated to c. 50 CE, and therefore be given precedence over the canonical gospels. I agree with most exegetes that Crossan’s reconstruction of the Q Source is flawed and leads him to conclusions (like Coptic Thomas) that are flawed, relativizing many of his ideas. I do agree with Crossan (and Bultmann) that a Signs SOurce underlies the Fourth Gospel.
    Let’s have a real discussion (not “been there done that) of Crossan’s central ideas, which I am prepared to refute with scholarly material.
    Unless, of course, you’re just some huy who likes to hide behind pseudonyms and make believe.

  • Your debate is with Professor Crossan. And your time is being wasted as the Great Kibosh vitiates any need for a discussion about religion. Might want to peruse again the rigorous historic testing of Easter by said Professors Crossan, Ludemann, Ehrman et.al.

  • Just as we thought. You got nothing. You can’t even read the books you’re citing. Rational my rear end!

  • No, her debate is with you. She’s challenged you twice to back up all your claims, and you can’t seem to do it. A rational person would be able to debate such questions. You’re not rational, you’re reactionary. All you want is attention.

  • That’s what I was thinking. Who is this guy who makes all these statements, then can’t answer questions when someone asks? Some kind of clown troll.

  • There is no debate as Easter, the requirement for the existence of Christianity, is historically nil as noted at http://www.faithfutures.org/JDB/jdb017.html. Merry Mythmas!!!

    “And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.”(1 Cor 15:14)[4] Paul further asserted “And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.”(1 Cor 15:17–19)

  • Because he can’t. He’s just another troll, pretending to be something he’s not. If he had actually read and understood any of the books he cites, he could carry on an intelligent conversation. But he hasn’t, so he can’t.

  • As noted previously:

    There is no debate as Easter, the requirement for the existence of Christianity (and Xmas), is historically nil as noted at http://www.faithfutures.org/JDB/jdb017.html , Merry Mythmas!!!

    “And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.”(1 Cor 15:14)[4] Paul further asserted “And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.”(1 Cor 15:17–19

  • You’re citing a cheesy amateur Australian website? That’s your idea of what we should believe instead of Christianity? This is the best you could come up with?

  • A contemporary view of the physical resurrection of Jesus (i.e. Easter)

    The physical resurrection of Jesus as per current theology teachings at many large Catholic universities-

    “Heaven is a Spirit state or spiritual reality of union with God in love, without earthly — earth bound distractions.

    Christ ‘s and Mary’s bodies are therefore not in Heaven. For one thing, Paul in 1 Cor 15 speaks of the body of the dead as transformed into a “spiritual body.” No one knows exactly what he meant by this term.

    Most believe that it to mean that the personal spiritual self that survives death is in continuity with the self we were while living on earth as an embodied person.

    The physical Resurrection (meaning a resuscitated corpse returning to life), Ascension (of Jesus’ crucified corpse), and Assumption (Mary’s corpse) into heaven did not take place.

    The Ascension symbolizes the end of Jesus’ earthly ministry and the beginning of the Church.

    Only Luke’s Gospel records it. The Assumption ties Jesus’ mission to Pentecost and missionary activity of Jesus’ followers The Assumption has multiple layers of symbolism, some are related to Mary’s special role as “Christ bearer” (theotokos). It does not seem fitting that Mary, the body of Jesus’ Virgin-Mother (another biblically based symbol found in Luke 1) would be derived by worms upon her death. Mary’s assumption also shows God’s positive regard, not only for Christ’s male body, but also for female bodies.” “Heaven is a Spirit state or spiritual reality of union with God in love, without earthly — earth bound distractions.

    Christ ‘s and Mary’s bodies are therefore not in Heaven. For one thing, Paul in 1 Cor 15 speaks of the body of the dead as transformed into a “spiritual body.” No one knows exactly what he meant by this term.

    (Heaven as per Aquinas and JPII is a spirit state as is Hell i.e. no physical bodies in either place. )

  • So you expect us to ignore what theologians from Oxford and Princeton and Yale write about Christianity and accept what you say, just because you found some silly websites? What a mess!

  • Obviously, you did not read the information on the referenced web site . It is from Professor Crossan’s NT inventory explained in great detail in his book The Historical Jesus

  • And the Ivy League theologians simply reiterate the bible-bound teachings of Aquinas and Augustine.

  • You must be the most ignorant man I’ve ever met. You write about a bible you don’t understand. You don’t read the biblical languages. You cite authors you don’t understand. And you draw conclusions not supported by your courses. You make no sense at all.

  • The “light ” of pedophilia and error filled history, theology and dogma? Not now. Not ever!

  • The Great Kibosh of All Religions rules. The theological verbiage in any language has ended. Merry Mythmas!

  • You sound like a mental patient. I hope you seek help for your delusions. No one in his right mind talks like you do.

  • This article was published at least ten days after Advent Sunday, which is the first Sunday of December.

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