So As Not to Hijack Another Thread
Mellestad...I didn't want to get too far off topic in the Christian Mental State thread so I figured I' start from scratch here and try to respond.
Wouldn't the early church have a better handle on what was literal than the later church? I would think our handle on interpretation would slip as time went by rather than grow more firm.
To me, Revelation is pretty straight forward, it is a symbolic way to get people riled up. To give people a pep talk, you know, your enemies will all die and the chosen elite will achieve eternal reward! From the way it is written it is immediate, he talks about this stuff like it will happen in his lifetime and there are many things that point to him talking specifically about Rome. I don't think the violence is out of character for much of the Bible, although it would be for Jesus. So it makes sense to me. As a theist the confusing part is the lack of immediacy...Rev 1:1, 3, 22:10, 22:7, 12, 20...they all point to something happening soon, not something thousands of years away.
But anyway, the most confusing parts. As an atheist, honestly, the Bible makes sense to me. I look at it as a product of the time and culture when it was written and I get it, it makes sense. That isn't to say I think it is logical or that it isn't contradictory, or that the teachings or lessons are applicable to modern life. It just means it isn't confusing.
As an ex-theist, the things that are the most confusing, in no particular order:
1. The Genesis story in light of modern knowledge. The order and method of creation, the birth of life and man, the abilities of early man and the entire flood story are all directly contradicted by modern science. And it is clearly not written as a symbolic work, so that makes it hard to figure out.
2. The Garden of Eden story, the curse of man and the resulting original sin. The whole process doesn't follow any rational thought process. Why create man and give a test that insures failure? Why the curse? Why let the snake in? Why have the choice to be evil? What is evil and why would you create it? If God didn't create it arbitrarily, then what did? Since God is supposed to be omnipotent and omni-present what is the point of the whole exercise? Why Hell? Etc.
3. Tower of Babel, whether literal of metaphorical.
4. The huge personality shift between the God of the OT and the God of the NT.
5. The need for blood sacrifice, from goats all the way up to Jesus. This is pretty broad...from Isaac's son to general ritual killing to the entire Jesus story itself. It doesn't make sense why God literally needs to be appeased with innocent life to get me off the hook for the curse he put on me because my original ancester acted according to their God given nature and broke a rule also created by God.
6. Matthew 27:46. "Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?"
7. The concept of the trinity, and how that isn't polytheism.
8. Sexual morality as represented in the Bible.
Off the top of my head anyway, I could go on. Haha, I was a very confused theist.
I would agree about the early church, for sure.
1) There are a lot of different explanations that people come up with. Some stick with the Bible, some say certain elements of Genesis are allegorical. I'd have to ask what you're refering to that contradicts the Bible.
2) That falls into what I just posted in another forum as Lapsarianism. Depends on what theology you subscribes to as to why God did it.
3) What is the confusing part?
4) The shift isn't so much of a personality shift as it is a portrayal shift. He is portrayed in the OT as vengeful and in the NT as graceful, because of The shift from Old Covenant to New Covenant.
5) Confuses me too.
6) There is no short answer to this. I would point you to Christ's Words from the Cross for the full explanation.
7) Simple explanation is think of an equilateral triangle. 3 separate sides equal in size, but 1 triangle.
I've never heard that before. What you mean specifically.
My Master has no desire to be merely victor in a debate: he did not come into the world to fight a battle of logic just
for the sake of winning it. --Charles Spurgeon