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Experiencing God
August 23, 2008
8:13 pm
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Worried_Dad
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Hi MsGuided,

I think the pastors here can take care of themselves.

And, I actually do have a life outside of AAC. The "Thomas" thing just struck me because I think it isn't nice to make fun of people's faith and I just happened to be in the process of writing a monograph about the Gospel of Thomas.

Remember what I told you about reading people's minds, and hurting people?

And here you are doing it again.

Get civil.

August 23, 2008
9:32 pm
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Hi Tez,

I am not proposing to offer an complete analysis of Thomas here. *That* is not child's play. It's taking forever. Except now that I think of it, it could be kind of fun to test some of my monograph here, if I can figure out how to work the anonymity thingy.

Here's the easy part.

You seem to be saying the Gospel of offers support for ridiculing Christians who find validity in the teachings of Jesus from the other gospels. And that's just not true.

Jesus traveled and taught and healed and he made quite an impression on some people.

The story and teachings of Jesus were preserved as oral traditions and also written down.

What we call the "Gospels" are re-edited, revised reinterpretations of several original sources.

When you have several people, with different core beliefs, sensibilities and political agendas trying to tell and sell the "same story" you are naturally going to get several versions of the story.

And different schools will naturally place more or less emphasis and importance and validity on different versions of that story.

That's not rocket science; it's common sense.

Some schools prize insist on dogmatic orthodoxy.

Others are about finding the threads of commonality in the gospels, and trying to tease out the teachings from the dogma and politics.

From that perspective, the Gospel of Thomas is a not an expose, deal-breaker, or spoiler of the other Gospels; it's just another clue that modern detectives can use to help unravel the mystery of Jesus.

August 24, 2008
10:37 am
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WD.....and what do you do?

Get real about it!

Sorry I don't feel a need to stroke your already overblown ego.

August 24, 2008
11:40 am
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WD.P.S.>......I was just creating another fantasy above when I created the super hero alter ego for you.
This is just what i do!

You said so! and this bothers you?

I am totally entrenched in a fantasy world and have absolutely NO grasp on reality!

I sit here day in day out and make up everything!

You have a life? I wish i had one more than this! WAH!

My life is my computer, limited chat rooms, surfing celeb images, MySpace....:0/

I don't even have a job! I'm a parasite!

There ya go. I am reduced to something you feel comfortable with....just a big nobody mosquito in your ear!BBZzzzzzzzzzzzzzz!

aaaahahahahaaaaa!

August 24, 2008
8:21 pm
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Worried_Dad

Your post of 23-Aug-08 leaves me a little nonplussed to say the least.

Now, after reading your response to my presvious post to you, I'm left with good dose of cognitive dissonance. One part of me wants to kick your arse 'good and proper' while the other half feels 'bloody sorry for you'. So, being a 'slack arsed' deciple of the Buddha's teachings, I'll seek the middle ground with as much wisdom and kindness that I can muster from my very depleted reservoir.

You now appear to have changed your story radically - and I quote you(underlining mine)- From:

"Tez, you wrote: "I challenge you and your fellow pastors to explain the writings of Thomas!!! "

Your "challenge" is child's work to *this pastor,* and I'll post it as an appendix to this thread gone horribly wrong."

To:

"I am not proposing to offer an complete analysis of Thomas here. *That* is not child's play. It's taking forever. Except now that I think of it, it could be kind of fun to test some of my monograph here, if I can figure out how to work the anonymity thingy."

This about face seems to me to be a complete back down from what appears to me to be your initial, emotionally driven, unthoughtful, gut reaction to my challenge.

If, given the constraints imposed upon you by your ego, this response of yours is meant to be your best attempt to apologize for your emotional outburst of 20-Aug-08, then I accept your apologies unreservedly.

However, if you think to insult my intelligence by trying to way lay me with irrelevancies and fractional truths - as you appear to me to have done - then, sadly, I have to inform you that you have failed. You see, I will simply use this best attempt of yours by practicing 'patience under insult'.

In either case thank you for your response.

August 25, 2008
7:29 pm
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http://www.gnosis.org/naghamm/.....sthom.html
Ok, I've had this bookmarked for years now, and I really deplore religious debate that is geared toward absolute figurative belief. It attacks peoples personal journey, and the whole focus of faith is truly personal.
Nobody can do your homework, or tell you what is right.
Read the texts, and form your own opinion.
Who wants to explore the original sources of Cristian thought. Who wants to read texts that aren't contained in the bible?

The Nag Hammadi!

"The Nag Hammadi Library, a collection of thirteen ancient codices containing over fifty texts, was discovered in upper Egypt in 1945. This immensely important discovery includes a large number of primary Gnostic scriptures -- texts once thought to have been entirely destroyed during the early Christian struggle to define "orthodoxy" -- scriptures such as the Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Philip, and the Gospel of Truth." ( taken from the mainpage)

The discovery and translation of the Nag Hammadi library, completed in the 1970's, has provided impetus to a major re-evaluation of early Christian history and the nature of Gnosticism."

A religious text destroyed by later struggles within the church , yet resurrected in this century.

Somebody hid this important resource from the religious tyrants who's only agenda was to divide the genders, and control all human resources.IMO
To continue on the gnostic path, which was Jesus true intention became heresy.
MANY texts and beleif systems were dismantled and destroyed through torture, death and margianalization.

Gospels of Thomas are on this page.

http://www.gnosis.org/naghamm/.....sthom.html

Further writings are indexed in the left column.
The Gospel of Mary is worthy of reading, and really deserves a place in the bible but some of us know why that never happened.

http://www.gnosis.org/library/.....rygosp.htm

This is also a worthy read, offers enough names and info to further research, about the changes that descended upon the christian religion By St. Athanasius _" Father of Orthodox Christianity"

http://www.newadvent.org/cathe.....02035a.htm

I guess experiencing God comes from what a person has injested as truth, becomes imprinted, by religeous influence in writing and congregation, and if a person chooses to take a more scholastic approach to it, by reading source info that can be accessed within learning instituions and the internet.

I don't know what "god" is, and still haven't found anything satisfactory in mans interpretions either.

I'm just fine with that.

August 25, 2008
8:42 pm
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WD and Tez, if you guys bid on me, whoever pays me the most will win me for his side of the debate for the next 14 days. Is that a good deal or what! Come on make a bid! Starting at 99 cents ...

August 25, 2008
8:43 pm
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Inspite of the fact that I'm so sad inside, I manage to make myself laugh... if only just for 20 seconds :(( mm :((

August 26, 2008
12:40 am
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Hi Tez,

I regret that my explanation was unsatisfying to you.

Sorry if we had a misunderstanding.

"emotionally driven, unthoughtful, gut reaction..."

Hey, I do that a lot.

I made an assumption about your "challenge" that was probably unwarranted. That's what I get for breaking my own rules...the "Ass" thing.

So I'll do now what I ought to have done in the first place and ask you to clarify your question.

Please further explain your "challenge" "pastors" to "explain" the writings of Thomas.

Is that a different kind of challenge than "explaining" MMLJ?

I find it hard to believe that you merely mean you want a Sunday School lesson from Thomas..surely that's not it? Shirley?

When you said "explanation" it didn't occur to me that you might be "challenging" someone to actually offer a line by line analysis.

I mean, it's already been done, so anything that anyone could do would be more or less derivative unless they were trying for a new translation from the Coptic.

Anyway, I would be happy to hear a re-statement of your "challenge." Particularly, I want to know what you were trying to get out of Ma et-al.

August 26, 2008
12:45 am
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Hi Tez,

p.s.,

I suppose in a way the "appendix" thing actually was about the fact that I have a habit of writing monstrous bloated monographs that hardly anyone would want to read, and I just happened to be doing Thomas recently...so your work in this thread created a place where I could publish it as an appendix.

It's the cheapest form of vanity publishing yet discovered!

August 26, 2008
1:16 am
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"I guess experiencing God comes from what a person has injested as truth"

I disagree. Experiencing God comes from within, an inner quest FOR the truth. Open yourself up to possibilities, start walking down some paths, and you'll go somewhere.

free

August 26, 2008
2:01 am
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Hi Free,

I think that's what Jesus said, too....especially according to Thomas.

August 26, 2008
11:09 am
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WD:

You wrote:

"Anyway, I would be happy to hear a re-statement of your "challenge.""

I am now re-stating my challenge as written by me in my previous post as you asked above. I have underlined the key word below for your edification.

"I challenge you and your fellow pastors to explain the writings of Thomas!!!"

I cannot see how I can clarify this simple statement any further. What part of it do you not understand?

"Particularly, I want to know what you were trying to get out of Ma et-al."

Again I re-state what I wrote in my previous post:

"Much of what Thomas wrote sure makes a hell of a lot of sense from a Buddhist perspective. But from a Christian perspective it is mostly unintelligible and is therefore summarily dismissed. Hmmm!!"

In the context in which this quote appears in my previous post, I was referring to the Council of Nicea who dismissed Thomas's Gospel, excluding it from the Bible.

Why was Thomas's Gospel dismissed? My answer is because I believe that "from a Christian perspective it is mostly unintelligible". See my re-statement above.

Now, if pastors of the obvious persuasion of Ma Strong and yourself - to whom explaining Thomas's Gospel is "child's work" - cannot explain the deep significance and meaning in Thomas's Gospel, then I have further reason to believe that ignorance of Christ's mystical message is why this Gospel was discarded so long ago; that is, what the early Christian Fathers couldn't understand and explain, they discarded. Is the meaning of my re-statement and my rationale behind it clear enough now?

Already I have had gungho dedicated Christians on this site recently denigrate Thomas's gospel as being 'infidel' subtefuge designed to discredit the early Christian beliefs. If Thomas's Gospel wasn't so deep, I could almost have given some credence to that possibility.

Christ is said to have travelled to India between the ages of 16 to 30. He could well have immersed himself in the Buddhist beliefs whilst over there. This would explain the very Buddhist like meanings that I can see in this gospel of St. Thomas. That is why I suspect that it is genuinely Christ's message. Of course Paul would have abhorred any Buddhist 'pollutants' within his Judaism impregnated Christian doctrines that he would have formulated!

I restate: Strange don't you think that out of 12 apostles only 4 apostles feature in the bible gospel wise? Since language experts largely agree that the 4 gospels were not physically written by the attributed authors but by other multiple authors, the illiteracy of the 8 'gospel wise' excluded apostles is not a reasonable explanation for their missing 8 gospels. Scribes were employed to write down the supposed teachings of Christ. Why wouldn't scribes have recorded the retelling of Christ's message by these extra 8 witnesses. Of course some of these 8 gospels have embarrasingly shown up in the archaelogical finds. Why are these finds not validated and included now - for the same reason why they were not included at the Council of Nicea perhaps????

If you still cannot see what I'm driving at, I'll spell it out for you more plainly:

My contention is that Christ's message is not accurately reported in the Christian Bible. Inaccuracies, later additions, fudging and omissions of the kind mentioned above obscure the mystical teachings of Christ, IMHO. Christian ministers, priests, pastors over the centuries and today through ignorance, aid and abett this obscuration process.

Had you and Ma Strong showed me any real depth of understanding of Thomas's Gospel, including a credibile explanation of why they were excluded from the bible, my beliefs would have been somewhat diminished and my conviction weakened.

Is my position now clear to you?

August 26, 2008
11:23 am
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Very interesting. For me, what you have to say Tez is exactly why I pray continuously for the truth...wherever that may be found! And, I have found truth in some fascinating ways/places. I do have Christian beliefs, however, at the very same time I feel that we can find truth in everything if we open our hearts and let go of fear. Sometimes what resonated within us as truth 20 years ago, may not hold the same meaning today. (Not trying to open a can of worms here, just thinking through what I viewed as truth at 22, compared to my 44 today!!!)

August 26, 2008
11:55 am
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"Sometimes what resonated within us as truth 20 years ago, may not hold the same meaning today. (Not trying to open a can of worms here, just thinking through what I viewed as truth at 22, compared to my 44 today!!!)"

So - it kind of boils down to what is within us at the time - what we call wisdom. What we call "God".

Even in my twenties, I leaned toward this -
"God" is just a construct of what is within. An idea, a guess, a wish. In my opinion, that's why there are different religions. Different gods, different interps, different truths.

August 26, 2008
12:22 pm
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Hi Bevdee. Interesting thoughts. You stretch my thinking. I do believe there is God, I think we're given truth as we seek it, and if we seek truth in life. (It would seem some people decide on the "truth" and stick to it come "Hell or High Water":)) Basically for me, when I was 22 I could not have handled the truth He's shown me at 44 through many experiences, different people, different beliefs, ideas. I'm hoping on my part to stay open, and keep searching, it's an incredible journey.

August 26, 2008
12:28 pm
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Longshot,

Hi. You say He with a capitol H. Is your God a man? Are you a man?

August 26, 2008
1:34 pm
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Hi Tez,

You wrote: "My contention is that Christ's message is not accurately reported in the Christian Bible. Inaccuracies, later additions, fudging and omissions of the kind mentioned above obscure the mystical teachings of Christ, IMHO."

That's what I said.

What we call the "Gospels" are re-edited, revised reinterpretations of several original sources...you are naturally going to get several versions of the story...."

And that's why it makes sense to study *every* gospel.

Why was the Gospel of Thomas excluded as heretical?

Who gives a darn? Those guys are all dead now: screw 'em.

I mean look, Thomas is pretty thin and unadorned--hard to hang a lot of extra meaning on it. And the meaning that came through didn't serve the purposes of the early church which was to create an exoteric religion.

But, those guys are all dead now. We have the text.

It's a very old text, and it reads like I think it makes sense as a Christian document.

And it is challenging as a "Christian" document unless you remember that there are two main schools of Christianity.

The exoteric school is the most famous one: "Do the right thing or burn in hell forever. Because God loves you."

The esoteric school is more about using the teachings of Jesus as a guide for self-development.

From *that* Christian perspective, Thomas works just fine.

August 26, 2008
4:24 pm
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Hi Again Bevdee! Sounds like there may be some thoughts of God related gender questions here.

I refer to God as Him, because I do believe He is my Father. (And, that one belief has healed a myriad of problems with my biological dad.) So while I realize there are many others who view God differently, from a non specific gender, I respect their views, I just don't agree. Just my opinion, not the "gospel":)

Hi Worried Dad-thanks for the Esoteric, and Exoteric explanation. I have not heard that before:)

August 27, 2008
2:33 pm
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I wonder where Bumpy lewis went?

August 27, 2008
9:02 pm
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free.i wasn't referring to myself when i said ".. experiencing god comes from what a person injested as truth"

Longshot thinks god is a "HE". Most people do.They put a gender and a human face to this "entity"..God appears as an aged muscular man with long flowing grey hair and a beard. Most peole are influenced by their doctrin of choice and incorporate what's written as truth. Others choose to be more symbolic.

Thats an example of what I meant.
You assume i haven't had some kind of spiritual journey or am not open to it?

Your right I have never experienced this "god".My journey has shown me, through logic, that "he" doesn't exist in this form.

The bible is a fictional story book to me, with sprinkles of truth about human behaviour.

August 27, 2008
9:18 pm
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I forgot to add people can be influenced by the artistic representations of god, and incorporate those images as truth.

They exist within Cristianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, Greek Mythology, Egyptology etc.

Once again I think they represent mans fertile imagination and creative abilities.

August 27, 2008
10:03 pm
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I think those paintings are just an outward projection of the men that painted them. Mirror.

August 27, 2008
10:05 pm
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WD:

According to one translation of 'Thomas' and starting at the beginning, he supposedly wrote:

"1. And he says: Whoever finds the interpretation of these sayings shall not taste death."

What are these words saying to you?

What esoteric meaning do you extract from this verse?

What exoteric meaning to you think pastors like Ma Strong would extract from this verse?

I invite Ma Strong to speak for herself as well, if she so wills it.

August 28, 2008
3:29 am
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Hi Tez,

Thomas is inviting the reader to study the teachings of Jesus, and claiming that it will be worth their while.

An exoteric interpretation would be that if you “get it” you will be “saved” and get to dwell forever in Heaven. There is kind of a threat there, because it is natural to fear death. It’s the stick more than the carrot.

I think Thomas actually means that the teachings of Jesus are a path to Gnosis—Knowing God.

That kind of Knowing, it is not about seeing, loving, appreciating or fearing God as something separate than you. It is about feeling and knowing yourself and others as Immortal Spirit. In other words, it is about knowing yourself to be of God.

If you identify yourself as Spirit and not with Flesh, then death of the body does not hold the same fear, because Spirit is eternal.

The “reward” offered is not something you get for good behavior—it’s a benefit of Consciousness.

Esoterics or Mystics tend to take a non-dualistic approach to God; he is not someone who you appease in order to get into a place called Heaven. Instead, by knowing God, you are already in Heaven. When Dr. Faust expressed doubts as to the existence of Hell, Mephistopheles replied “why this is Hell; nor am I out of it.”

A Gnostic might say “Why this is Heaven, nor am I out of it.”

Jesus riffs on that one in the third saying.

3) Jesus said, "If those who lead you (plur.) say to you, 'See, the kingdom is in heaven,' then the birds of heaven will precede you. If they say to you, 'It is in the sea,' then the fish will precede you. But the kingdom is inside of you. And it is outside of you. "When you become acquainted with yourselves, then you will be recognized. And you will understand that it is you who are children of the living father. But if you do not become acquainted with yourselves, then you are in poverty, and it is you who are the poverty."

It's all carrot and no stick.

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