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Psalms 146:3

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Re: Psalms 146:3

Postby Chaplain Entrekin » Wed May 28, 2014 10:39 pm

BeamStalk wrote:So why do people use Psalms to say the Bible is against abortion? When every where else it talks about people not being people until their first breath, they breathe in the spirit.


BeamStalk, that is an excellent question in light of the current thread. But keep in mind that just because something is poetry, does not make it true. So, case in point, many will refer to Psalm 139 which says, "You (God) knit me together in my mother's womb." This does not literally mean that God shrinks himself down to wombsize and uses magic knitting needles and knits one, pearls two, until a baby is formed. That would be a literal interpretation.

But what is being expressed through this poetry? That human beings are the result of God's supernatural "crafting" of us. This is not a denial of sperm and egg reproduction. It is admission that the wonder of reproduction, of the uniqueness of each person born, is the result of God's intentional ordained work. Tiny magical knitting needles is ludicrous. Sperm and egg reproduction are scientific fact. But sperm and egg reproduction is miraculous. It is not something that we invented. It is something God crafted to work the way that it does.

This concept, rightly understood, adds intrinsic value to humans, including those who are unborn in the womb (and including those born with defects or who die in the womb). They are not just a random amalgamation of splitting cells hoping to survive their environment. They are known, loved, and valued by the creator of everything. It is because of this value, expressed in other passages like Genesis 1:27, Jeremiah 1:5, and others that most Christians are opposed to abortion.

I am not familiar with the reference to "people not being people until they breathe in the spirit." Perhaps you could share that with me. I suspect that is not talking (metaphorically) about spiritual life/birth, not physical life/birth. As always, when it comes to proper scriptural interpretation, ON BOTH SIDES OF THE AISLE, context is king.

- Chap
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Re: Psalms 146:3

Postby BeamStalk » Wed May 28, 2014 11:23 pm

Breath is always shown as life in the Bible.

Genesis 2:7

7Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.

Ezekiel 37:4-6

4Again He said to me, "Prophesy over these bones and say to them, 'O dry bones, hear the word of the LORD.' 5"Thus says the Lord GOD to these bones, 'Behold, I will cause breath to enter you that you may come to life. 6'I will put sinews on you, make flesh grow back on you, cover you with skin and put breath in you that you may come alive; and you will know that I am the LORD.'"

Job 33:3-5

3"My words are from the uprightness of my heart, And my lips speak knowledge sincerely. 4"The Spirit of God has made me, And the breath of the Almighty gives me life. 5"Refute me if you can; Array yourselves before me, take your stand

Breath is always shown as life, including in Job he says without breath he would turn to dust. Breathing was a miracle for people who didn't understand the basic respiratory system. The bible talks about still borns and miscarriages, because these things happened. Also Moses was told to only count the month olds and up as people. So there are many examples that do not uphold prolife and yet there are verses that seem to say the opposite, go figure. That is why it should be called the big book of multiple choice because people pick and choose what they want out of it to support almost anything they want.
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Re: Psalms 146:3

Postby Stoned Immaculate » Thu May 29, 2014 1:22 am

Chap, I have to say people like you intrigue me. I don't for one second claim to be smarter than you in any way. I don't want you to think I am an atheist snob who looks down on people of faith. But I really don't understand how intelligent people like yourself defend the bible the way you do. Your point earlier about Genesis 1 & 2 saying what it says to show the who rather than the how, it's brilliant. But it's so bizarre to me that this explanation actually resonates with you. You stress context when trying to understand the obvious questionable things said in the bible. You say it's helpful to take some time to study with someone who's been through seminary to gain a better understanding of the things that don't make sense in the bible. Scripture seems like something that would benefit greatly with making sense universally, I don't know maybe that's asking too much.

But if God is everything he says he is, it seems something like this could be possible right? Moses writes a certain style to help it make sense to his contemporary people, but what about 21st century people? God can do all the outrageous acts he pulled in Egypt showing his might, and they need help understanding who the real god is? Honestly chap, all of these biblical stories make sense to me when I ask myself this one question. What is more likely? What is more likely, man was made in the image of God, or man made a God in his own image? To me, people living thousands of years ago trying to understand why there is existence, why they're here, I understand them saying the answer must be a more powerful version of themselves. You can study languages with people who've gone through seminary all day every day since forever, the bible will never make more sense than it does when read understanding that those who wrote it created the main character out of nothing, giving it the attributes they wished they had.
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Re: Psalms 146:3

Postby Chaplain Entrekin » Thu May 29, 2014 3:42 pm

BeamStalk wrote:Breath is always shown as life in the Bible. Breath is always shown as life, including in Job he says without breath he would turn to dust. Breathing was a miracle for people who didn't understand the basic respiratory system.


It is true that many verses that use the term “breath” are referring to physical inhalation of air, or how the lack of it equates to physical death. However, the Hebrew words neshamah, nefesh, and ruach, as well as the Greek form pnuema, can connote more meanings than just oxygen respiration for physical life. It can mean “will” as in Job 4:9, Job 37:10, Job 41:21, Psalm 18:15, and Psalm 33:6. It can refer to the short length of time that finite life is, as in Job 7:7, Job 7:16, and Psalm 144:4. It can refer to the “spirit of God” in man as in Job 32:8. It can refer to your literal breath as in Song of Solomon 7:8. And it can also refer to “spiritual life” as in John 20:22, when Jesus breathes on his disciples and says to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”

BeamStalk wrote:That is why it should be called the big book of multiple choice because people pick and choose what they want out of it to support almost anything they want.


I understand how this can feel like a big book of multiple choices. Especially when legitimate questions are raised and pat answers such as, “that’s not what it means” come out, but there is no explanation as to why it doesn’t mean that (other than just inconvenience). I agree that can be frustrating to people who are genuinely trying to discern correct meaning from the text. Actually, we do the same in our own languages today.
Consider one of my favorite homonyms:

That bird is a crane/They had to use a crane to lift the object/She had to crane her neck to see the movie. 1 word = 2 nouns and 1 verb

We don’t consider the above uses of “crane” as being multiple choice. We understand that there are certain meanings contained within the word. So when we encounter it in context, we can use wisdom to discern what is the proper meaning.

BeamStalk wrote: Also Moses was told to only count the month olds and up as people.

This is the Bible Study section, so let’s do it. Please provide the reference for this so together we can consider the context of what was going on.

- Chap
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Re: Psalms 146:3

Postby Chaplain Entrekin » Thu May 29, 2014 4:13 pm

Stoned Immaculate wrote:Chap, I have to say people like you intrigue me. I don't for one second claim to be smarter than you in any way. I don't want you to think I am an atheist snob who looks down on people of faith. But I really don't understand how intelligent people like yourself defend the bible the way you do. Your point earlier about Genesis 1 & 2 saying what it says to show the who rather than the how, it's brilliant. But it's so bizarre to me that this explanation actually resonates with you. You stress context when trying to understand the obvious questionable things said in the bible. You say it's helpful to take some time to study with someone who's been through seminary to gain a better understanding of the things that don't make sense in the bible. Scripture seems like something that would benefit greatly with making sense universally, I don't know maybe that's asking too much.

Stoned Immaculate, this is a gracious and honestly expressed paragraph and I thank you for the inviting engagement. Please allow me to respond to your following paragraph within the text itself.

Stoned Immaculate wrote:But if God is everything he says he is, it seems something like this could be possible right?

I think you have hit on it right there! But, if I may, you have gotten one word off. The more accurate/appropriate way to express what I believe you are asking is, "But if God is everything WE say he is, it seems something like this could be possible right?" We would like a God who would do things in a way that we think are better. I'm not talking about making us able to fly. Even things we think would benefit him. But that is us, finite creatures, imposing our thoughts/ideas/assumptions on an infinite God. What we really say here is, "If there is really a God, he would match my own expectations of what a God should do/be."


Stoned Immaculate wrote:Moses writes a certain style to help it make sense to his contemporary people, but what about 21st century people?

I think God’s message to 21st century people is still “who,” not how. We can probably figure out enough of the "how" on our own with the good brains that He has given to us. But an infinite God can only be comprehended by finite people by his own revealing himself. If we insist on what the revelations must be to satisfy us, we are making demands for a god in our own image, who will tell us what WE want.


Stoned Immaculate wrote:God can do all the outrageous acts he pulled in Egypt showing his might, and they need help understanding who the real god is?

Yes, the Hebrews, like all humans, were so obstinate and resistant to who God is, so prone to craft gods that would fit their mind-concepts of what a god is, that they took their spoils that they had plundered from the Egyptians and crafted an idol of a calf to worship. AND THEY HAD JUST LEFT EGYPT! The human heart is an idol factory. Moses writes as God directs him because he knows that if the people, in isolation in the desert, having experienced God destroy the world's mightiest superpower in Egypt, there is no way they will stay faithful in the polytheistic land of Canaan. The Hebrews and us today are the same: if we can create the god, than we can feel comfortable around him/her/it. Because we know its limits and know how to keep him/her/it at bay

Stoned Immaculate wrote:Honestly chap, all of these biblical stories make sense to me when I ask myself this one question. What is more likely? What is more likely, man was made in the image of God, or man made a God in his own image? To me, people living thousands of years ago trying to understand why there is existence, why they're here, I understand them saying the answer must be a more powerful version of themselves.

I absolutely agree with you when looking at every other religion other than Biblical Christianity. When I examine other religions, Islam, Mormonism, Buddhism, Gnosticism, Hindu, Shinto,etc. I see systems of economies (i.e. how things work) and thoughts that look similar to what would happen if a bunch of guys locked themselves in a room and decided, “Let’s invent a story to explain everything AND let’s make sure that it benefits us. There needs to be lots of rules and work to do it correctly; special levels to attain; a good amount of fear to make people follow it; and we, the inventors, should get high honorary positions.” I confess that sadly, Christianity has come across that way. No. Forgive me. Sadly, and sinfully, throughout history, Christianity has been practiced that way.

But, Biblical Christianity is the only “religion” where the Infinite Moral Authority Creator comes Himself to suffer and bear the judgment and punishment that his creatures deserve. Where those who break the rules are declared righteous by being given the righteousness of God as a free gift from Him by faith alone, through grace alone. Nothing we do is necessary, or even worthwhile, to add to it. Considering Anthropology, History, Sociology, and Religion, that just does not seem like a man-invented system to me.

I appreciate the dialogue.
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Re: Psalms 146:3

Postby Stoned Immaculate » Thu May 29, 2014 6:52 pm

Chap, thanks for the thoughtful response, reading over what I wrote I actually think I come across as somewhat of a dick, so I apologize if you thought that at all. As for your reply, I guess I just respectfully disagree that biblical christianity is different than the rest. I just don't connect the supposed actions of physically coming down to bear punishment as lending more validity to anything. To me it seems even more unrealistic because of the claims made about Jesus.

Where you say the "free gift through faith alone" system doesn't seem man-made, I say the entire concept of "god" screams man-made. It's just such a normalized term because we've been looking for gods for thousands of years. And I'm not sold that the story of the God-man who suffered to save his creations from his own wrath is compelling in such a way that it must be divine.
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Re: Psalms 146:3

Postby BeamStalk » Fri May 30, 2014 8:59 pm

Haven't fully read your reply yet, but as for the scripture talking about a census of all males, it was of the Levites in Number 3:14-16

14 The Lord said to Moses in the Desert of Sinai, 15 “Count the Levites by their families and clans. Count every male a month old or more.” 16 So Moses counted them, as he was commanded by the word of the Lord.

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Re: Psalms 146:3

Postby zilch » Sat May 31, 2014 7:49 am

Chap- you argue that Christianity is unique among religions, and unique in such a way that makes it ring true in a way other religions do not. I agree that Christianity is unique in many ways, and I'll even admit that if I were religious, I would almost certainly embrace Christianity. But as I'm sure you're aware, apologists for other religions also consider their own religion to be unique, and there's no way I can see to dispassionately adjudicate which kinds of uniqueness are better or more convincing. I'm willing to bet that you, like the vast majority of Christians, were brought up in a Christian culture. This means that you are likely (like most of us) to have embraced your worldview at first without really thinking about it, and only post facto looked for arguments to support your views.

As I said, this is a failing all of us experience, atheists as well. But it makes your arguments for the uniqueness of Christianity appear ad hoc to those of us who don't embrace any religion. I know good people of many different worldviews: atheists, Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, pagans..... I don't see any reason to single out any one of their belief systems as better at making people behave nicely, or more convincing in terms of evidence for their god or gods or lack of such.

More later- gotta get on my bike while the sun shines. Cheers, zilch
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Re: Psalms 146:3

Postby BeamStalk » Sun Jun 01, 2014 12:19 am

Chaplain Entrekin wrote:It is true that many verses that use the term “breath” are referring to physical inhalation of air, or how the lack of it equates to physical death. However, the Hebrew words neshamah, nefesh, and ruach, as well as the Greek form pnuema, can connote more meanings than just oxygen respiration for physical life. It can mean “will” as in Job 4:9, Job 37:10, Job 41:21, Psalm 18:15, and Psalm 33:6. It can refer to the short length of time that finite life is, as in Job 7:7, Job 7:16, and Psalm 144:4. It can refer to the “spirit of God” in man as in Job 32:8. It can refer to your literal breath as in Song of Solomon 7:8. And it can also refer to “spiritual life” as in John 20:22, when Jesus breathes on his disciples and says to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”


That still bolsters my point, that life is breath. I am sure you are aware of the verses in Exodus about causing a miscarriage, or the bitter drink recipe to cause a miscarriage in Numbers 5.

I understand how this can feel like a big book of multiple choices. Especially when legitimate questions are raised and pat answers such as, “that’s not what it means” come out, but there is no explanation as to why it doesn’t mean that (other than just inconvenience). I agree that can be frustrating to people who are genuinely trying to discern correct meaning from the text. Actually, we do the same in our own languages today.
Consider one of my favorite homonyms:

That bird is a crane/They had to use a crane to lift the object/She had to crane her neck to see the movie. 1 word = 2 nouns and 1 verb

We don’t consider the above uses of “crane” as being multiple choice. We understand that there are certain meanings contained within the word. So when we encounter it in context, we can use wisdom to discern what is the proper meaning.


No. It is the big book of multiple choice because it can be used to support just about anything you want, not because some words have different meanings based on context. You realize the Southern states and Baptist church used the Bible to support slavery. While the North used the bible to say that all men should be free because the overall story of love transcends the actual passages on slavery.

This is the Bible Study section, so let’s do it. Please provide the reference for this so together we can consider the context of what was going on.

- Chap



See my previous post on the counting of the Levites.
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Re: Psalms 146:3

Postby zilch » Sun Jun 01, 2014 9:10 am

Beams- you said it. Although Chap is certainly correct that we can get closer to understanding what the authors meant by studying the environment of their writings as much as possible, it has always been the case that there are heavy differences of opinion about what the "real" meanings of the Bible are, and there's no prospect of any resolution. I put "real" in scarequotes because, as I've said before, I don't think the problem is too little study at seminary, or too much hubris or sinfulness: it's rather systemic problems with the nature of "meaning", and some particulars about the Bible which render it unclear in many ways.

What exactly is a "meaning"? What we usually mean is something like what Chap, obviously also a fellow word-lover, explained to us about the three meanings of "crane": he pointed at concepts we already had: the bird "crane", the machine "crane", and the verb "to crane". And of what are these concepts formed? They are of course thoughts in our brains, in words and pictures and memories, that form a cloud of impressions that seem to cohere somehow, and which we call a "crane" (or whatever).

By the way (sorry, I can't resist) the word "crane", like the words Kranich (the bird) and Kran (the machine) in German, and other cognates throughout indoeuropean languages, comes from (hypothetical of course) protoindoeuropean *gerh₂- which seems to have meant "a hoarse cry". Cranes cry hoarsely and crane their necks. We cry hoarsely sometimes (I'm willing to bet that German Kreischen, to cry or howl, is from this root too) and crane our necks- and build machines that crane. Words evolve and speciate: their meanings are not fixed.

This kind of analysis of how words came to be is of course necessary- and fun. But there is a limit to how perfectly understood a word can be: different peoples consider different birds "cranes" in different times and places. This goes even more so for a sentence made of words, especially words that have very complex and varied meanings- say, "freedom" or "kill". We obviously cannot perfectly match the full range of connotations these words have with another human. I don't see how the prospects for perfectly understanding the meanings in mind of God are anything but worse, if they are conveyed in words. If God's mind is unfathomable, then claiming we understand perfectly what, say, "thou shalt not suffer a witch to live" means is hubris.

Of course, there are meanings that can be perfectly understood, or at least as far as we can tell. In systems of formal logic such as math, I don't see how my understanding of "two plus two equals four" can be different for anyone else, even God. The meaning of "two" and its translations has also probably not evolved much in the last couple thousand years anyway. But the precision of math goes downhill rapidly when you enter the real world, and try to find the "true" meaning of, say, "two bodies of water" or "two races". By the time you get to "thou shalt not kill", you'll find people killing one another over their different interpretations.

That's not to say that laws or moral injunctions are useless: they can work well enough to build societies. Imperfect agreement often still works well enough to be pursued. Even "thou shalt not kill" has pretty widespread agreement about its broad meaning, although the boundaries are of course disputed. If people need to be told not to kill, so be it, even if they never leave off fighting about it.

Because the real world is so complex, words always tend to oversimplify. And people grow different clouds of meaning for words, phrases, and holy scripts. Thus, even if God wrote the words of the Bible (or the Koran, etc) their meanings can never be settled upon perfectly.

And it must be said that the Bible is not as clear as it might easily have been- beams' examples here, for instance, and others, help generate the sometimes byzantine dance of apologetics. If the Nicene editors had been a bit more careful about chucking duplicate but differing accounts, many theologians would probably have been out of work, because there'd have been lots less complex apologia necessary: the so-called "plain reading" of the text would have been much clearer, if still imperfect. Understanding the Bible would have been more like a square dance and less like a game of dodgeball.

All of this is to say, that we need people who know their scripture and history, as Chap and beams both obviously do, to get as close as we can to the original meanings of the Bible. But it's not a goal that can ever be achieved, because of the nature of meaning. That means that claims for, say, the "absolute morality" of the Bible (or indeed any moral text, religious or not) are bunk. As Lao Tse supposedly said, "Right and wrong are sickness of the mind". What he meant (and of course I understand his meaning perfectly :lol: ) is that there is no way to perfectly draw lines between "right" and "wrong", so thinking that they exist in an absolute way is sickness.

But that shouldn't stop us from thinking about right and wrong, and doing right stuff. We should just be realistic about how perfectly we can define them- even with God's help.

cheers from sunny Vienna, zilch
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