Glimpses of Heaven

FRENCH scientist and mystic Theilhard de Chardin said our lives would change if we realised we were not human beings having a spiritual experience, but spiritual beings having a human experience.

And if we’d only just stop for a minute, we could hear the God of the universe whisper: “I love you.”
That has an otherworldly ring about it.

We are living on the edge of eternity, but it’s sometimes hard to get glimpses of heaven in this world. It’s easier to glimpse hell on a planet seemingly fuelled by anger, greed, lust and ignorance.

French poet and playwright Jean Cocteau was once asked what he thought about heaven and hell.

“Excuse me for not answering,” he said. “I have friends in both places.”

Who can’t relate to that?

Mark Twain said he wished to go to heaven for the climate and hell for the company.

Earth is an in-between world, touched by both of the other venues.

Our profound human predicament is that we only occasionally dream beyond our earthly existence.

When good things happen, we may think we are in heaven; when bad things happen, we are in hell.

The fragmentary nature of our experience shatters us. One minute the world is full of lightness, then suddenly full of darkness.

No wonder we want to cry.

God says that when we get to heaven, he will wipe every tear from our eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain.

But that’s in heaven.

The writer Mary Antin had a theory that we are not born all at once, but by bits. First comes the body, then the spirit, slowly and often painfully. Our recognition of heaven on earth is not automatic.

Advertisements

46 thoughts on “Glimpses of Heaven

  1. Personally I think lives would change if people realised that we only get one shot a life and we should make the most of what we have.

    Like

  2. I never much liked the idea of sitting before the Throne singing psalms for eternity. I’d rather do something a bit more useful. I was amazed when engaged in spiritual meditation to dream of a heavenly choir, though not in detail. I could hear them perfectly. For some moments I could remember all the words and melody, but in our group others were reporting their experiences before my turn came, and by then, like all dreams, mine had faded.

    I had a little bit of the melody lingering, to go with the only words I could remember – “Go, oh Lord, with your Easter, because You are mine.” No one could explain to me what this might signify. Now it seems to me that these angels were claiming adherence to Jesus, and encouraging a new understanding of Christianity to arise.

    Like

    • “and encouraging a new understanding of Christianity to arise.”

      Hi Strewth,

      To arise in you, or……..?

      I see it as the angels showing you/the group/us? that Jesus Christ was, and always will be. He was there in the beginning. He was/is God and He came to us because He is indeed ours……

      I too have heard the Heavenly Choir, audibly. Yes, audibly! I can still recall the sound even though it happened years ago. Like nothing here on earth. Multitudes of voices, male, female, high, low and inbetween, and yet I could distinguish each voice—amazing!

      Like

      • littel arnie,
        actually, I’ve yet to find anything that is said about the hypothetical ‘Heaven’ of Christianity at all inviting. One of the many reasons why I prefer the hypothesis of Reincarnation more appropriate. I still have a powerful conviction about a continuation of life following so-called death, regardless.

        Cheers, Rian.

        Like

      • I’d point out that strictly speaking, the quote from de Chardin is perfectly good and appropriate Gnostic theory. I am not really too certain that it represents quite authentic orthodox Christian theory. It certainly doesnt appear to be too close to traditional Old Testament Judaic thinking.
        Rian.

        Like

      • I’d point out that strictly speaking, the quote from de Chardin is perfectly good and appropriate Gnostic theory. I am not really too certain that it represents quite authentic orthodox Christian theory.

        How so Rian? I think it is in keeping with the gospel vision. We were created. We are Spiritual Beings having a human experience. The ego and the quest for money and fame etc are ultimately pointless. We are here to learn. And Dying is merely going home. The principles of Gnosticism, with all its limiting and self-serving egotism, contradicts what it means to be a Christian. Gnosticism is all about ego. It doesn’t understand or recognise grace – the hallmark of Christianity

        Like

      • Monica on March 24, 2015 at 20:40 said:
        “and encouraging a new understanding of Christianity to arise.”
        To arise in you, or……..?

        Mon, I was but an observer, and they weren’t singing to me. . I know nuttin’! The Throne was before me, the heavenly choir facing it, banked to my left. All perfectly clear, until it faded, and I now have no details except the few words I hung on to, a snatch of tune, and the sound of the voices.

        How strange to dream of something when I had little time for the concept! I still think God has other interests than listening to himself be praised.

        Like

      • Rian,
        So you believe in Reincarnation eh? Who told you that reincarnation is real? Haim Cohn?

        Like

      • davinci,
        I’m surprised that you only just got round to realizing that I tend to fabour the concept of Reincarnation. I’ve mentionedf it several times here.

        No, no-one ‘told’ me about it. It is a concept that has very honourable roots stretching back millennia. I share the idea with many many fine minds. And within Judaism it is regarded as a perfectly optional and legitimate doctrine to believe in; although it is not a specific current teaching for the Jews.

        I find the doctrine credible and attractive. It explains so much and offers a much better idea of ultimate justice.

        Rian.

        Like

      • I find the doctrine credible and attractive. It explains so much and offers a much better idea of ultimate justice.

        OK That’s lovely. but that doesn’t have anything to do with the reality or non-reality of reincarnation Rian.

        Like

      • Now Bryan,
        Just what do you really know of Gnosticism? There are different schools, you know, within it, just as there are within Christianity.

        I might say perhaps, that I refuse to become a Christian, because I wont offer any allegience to the Pope. Also, I cant accept the incredible doctrine of the ‘Real Presence’ and Transubstantiation. Well, you would immediately be telling me that those concepts do not represent the Christianity that you adhere to. So touche! Not the school that you follow.

        Now, in regard to the business about whether we are a spiritual being having an earthly experience, – or else an earthly being having a spiritual experience. The first alternative is very specifically a teaching of Mysticism, of Gnosticism, of Reincarnation and heaven knows what else. On the other hand, the Jewish concept that Christianity sprang from, described how man’s body was created first and animated by God to become then a living soul. Within Judaism, body and soul together make up the human being.

        It was precisely because of this background concept that the early Christians insisted that there would and just had to be a resurrection of the Body. Like the early Jews they simply couldnt separate them in the way you are trying to do. Another problem with Christianity claiming that we are spiritual beings with earthly experience, is this. Christianity argues that the crucially important thing about our existence is just what we do with and in our earthly body. Our very souls depend on that. Our very salvation depends on the decisions we make with our earthly minds and hearts, while in our physical bodies during one single solitary human lifetime.

        By contrast, we Gnostics and Reincarnationists would hold on the other hand that we have an eternity for our spiritual selves to improve progressively our physical minds and bodies and to fit us for the higher realms. Grace can most certainly be poured out from ‘The God’ many times over through all this, but it does not wipe out the work and development we have to do in our lives. Grace is most certainly not any sort of a Christian invention; and in any case the Christian concept of it bears very big weaknesses, however much the faithful might find themselves experiencing it.

        Your comments there that – ‘We are here to learn. And Dying is merely going home.’ exactly represent my ideas, and the ideas of any of those who accept the doctrine of Reincarnation.

        Now your latter lines there, – ‘The principles of Gnosticism, with all its limiting and self-serving egotism, contradicts what it means to be a Christian. Gnosticism is all about ego.’ in no way do justice to our stance. And you go on – ‘it doesn’t understand or recognise grace – the hallmark of Christianity’ Enlightened Gnostics would certainly allow for Grace, but with considerable provisions and qualifications built in. It is not missing either within Judaism. I recall two occasions on which I gave an argument on this forum with a hypothetical anecdote, that criticized the Christian doctrines of Grace and divine Justice; – and not a single person attempted to answer it. I have no difficulty believing in both Grace and Justice.

        Your crude dismissal of Gnosticism Bryan, does not do you justice, any more than my crude example of dismissing Christianity in my second paragraph above doesnt do justice to Roman Catholicism either.
        Cheers, Rian.

        Like

      • Rian,

        You said:
        Grace is most certainly not any sort of a Christian invention; and in any case the Christian concept of it bears very big weaknesses, however much the faithful might find themselves experiencing it.

        What weaknesses in Christian grace?

        Enlightened Gnostics would certainly allow for Grace, but with considerable provisions and qualifications built in.

        How does a so-called “enlightened” gnostic allow for grace? And with what qualifications?

        Philip Yancey – someone you should read – wrote: During a British conference on comparative religions, experts from around the world debated what, if any, belief was unique to the Christian faith. They began eliminating possibilities. Incarnation? Other religions had different versions of gods’ appearing in human form. Resurrection? Again, other religions had accounts of return from death. The debate went on for some time until C. S. Lewis wandered into the room. “What’s the rumpus about?” he asked, and heard in reply that his colleagues were discussing Christianity’s unique contribution among world religions. Lewis responded, “Oh, that’s easy. It’s grace.”

        After some discussion, the conferees had to agree. The notion of God’s love coming to us free of charge, no strings attached, seems to go against every instinct of humanity. The Buddhist eight-fold path, the Hindu doctrine of karma, the Jewish covenant, and the Muslim code of law — each of these offers a way to earn approval. Only Christianity dares to make God’s love unconditional.

        Like

      • Yes Bryan,
        the Concept of Reincarnation is lovely. And I freely admit that there is no more evidence for its precise reality than there is for Christian salvation, or of souls ‘getting to heaven’. That is more than any of you Christians will do, as you take refuge in ‘faith’ and hope as your backup.
        Rian.

        Like

      • Yes Bryan,
        I’ve been waiting for you to quote that anecdote about CS Lewis and Grace. I well recall the last time you brought it up.

        Grace in the Christian sense only becomes important and indeed indispensible when seen in the context of the rest of the Christian teachings. As I have said, and you could easily confirm this, that Grace is definitely contained within the teachings and devotions of Judaism. And as I’ve pointed out too, there is every possibility for it to be effective for devotees of any religion who accept the teaching of Reincarnation.

        I will quote my little hypothetical anecdote again for your consideration. There are two brothers born some time back in Cambodia. As they live through their lives, both hear about Christianity and reject it. One retains a good Buddhist faith and practice. He is honest and decent. He looks after his family and he shows compassion to the people about him. He dies, a faithful Buddhist to the end.

        Meanwhile, his brother takes a different path. He goes into the military and from there into important Government activity. He also rejects Christianity, becoming one of the hated Khmer Rouge that tears Cambodia apart under Pol Pot. He is responsible for murdering countless numbers with no compassion. Eventually he dies, but at the last, he genuinely realizes his sinfulness, accepts Christ and is baptised, becoming a Christian on his deathbed.

        Now our first brother according to conventional Evangelical thinking, is lost and has to go to Hell, because having heard the Word, he rejects it consistently. But our other brother who has constantly committed terrible sins receives ‘Grace’ on his deathbed and goes naturally to Heaven.

        Now over and over I’ve heard the argument that if there were no Hell, then there would be no justice in the universe. To my way of thinking, neither of the two brothers I describe receives appropriate justice. And the principle of Grace has been well and truly misapplied.

        Just one other thing I’d point out. You quote our old mate CS Lewis as saying that the unique feature of Christianity is that it teaches Grace. That doesnt strictly speaking mean that Grace is really there. Merely that the religion teaches Grace. Christianity teaches a Christian Heaven. But that doesnt guarantee that the Christian Heaven is really there. Both Grace and that Heaven are matters of faith. No allowance appears to be made within Christianity for individuals who consider Salvation and Christ diligently, but who eventually sincerely reject it.

        cheers, Rian.

        Like

      • You don’t get it Rian.

        Philip Yancey explored grace at street level. If grace is God’s love for the undeserving, he asks, then what does it look like in action? And if Christians are its sole dispensers, then how are we doing at lavishing grace on a world that knows far more of cruelty and unforgiveness than it does of mercy? Yancey sets grace in the midst of life’s stark images, tests its mettle against horrific “ungrace.” Can grace survive in the midst of such atrocities as the Nazi holocaust? Can it triumph over the brutality of the Ku Klux Klan? Should any grace at all be shown to the likes of Jeffrey Dahmer, who killed and cannibalized seventeen young men? Grace does not excuse sin, says Yancey, but it treasures the sinner. True grace is shocking, scandalous. It shakes our conventions with its insistence on getting close to sinners and touching them with mercy and hope. It forgives the unfaithful spouse, the racist, the child abuser. It loves today’s AIDS-ridden addict as much as the tax collector of Jesus’ day. In his most personal and provocative book ever, Yancey offers compelling, true portraits of grace’s life-changing power. He searches for its presence in his own life and in the church. He asks, How can Christians contend graciously with moral issues that threaten all they hold dear? And he challenges us to become living answers to a world that desperately wants to know, What’s So Amazing About Grace?

        Like

      • davinci,
        I’m not really sure that you deserve to get any polite answer to the questions you raise here. Especially that absurd one about just where I got the idea of Reincarnation from. Over these months, I’ve tossed a number of questions at you and at the rest of the faithful on this forum. For the greater part, you (and the rest) have discretely ignore the questions, although my contentions have been denigrated. Generally I make a real effort to answer any queries put to me. If and when I dont, just let me know so I can rectify it all.

        Some days ago, you scoffed at my contention about the way the Jews were progressively demonized by Christianity very seriously following the Crucifixion. I offered perfectly good facts that demonstrated leading Church Fathers of the 2nd Century who did just that. I gave details of the things they said. You described my list as ‘Garbage’. And you may recall that it was only in the last 50 years that the Vatican removed a particularly odious phrase from their Liturgy. And that was the one about the ‘perfidious Jews.’

        How about being a man for once here, and acknowledging that your Garbage judgement was wrong, and that you withdraw it. Or else, find some way to justify your statement. Surely for a Christian of any variety, it is only decent and honest to admit when you made such a stupid and degrading mistake.

        Rian. (not too many cheers this time, old mate)

        Like

      • So Bryan,
        I’m anti-Christian now, am I? I didnt know that.

        Let me spell it out. Sometimes Christianity works. Sometimes it doesnt. There is obviously a very real experience many have of the presence of Christ. I dont dispute that. There is obviously a very real relationship that many people have had with Christ. It still doesnt mean that all the theory that lies within Christian teaching is correct. It merely demonstrates that in many cases Christianity ‘works’.

        And no matter what effects there may be within a person’s life while on this earth and getting the assurance of being saved or of knowing Christ, it still doesnt guarantee that the teachings about Heaven and salvation are actually accurate. Neither does it guarantee that the processes and teachings of other religions and philosophies are wrong.

        Are you prepared to swear on a stack of Bibles that there is absolutely no other means of entering this hypothetical Heaven than by having faith in Christ?

        Bryan, since I have seen Christianity at work all my life, and very successfully in many occasions, I am convinced totally that it can be a valid and beautiful path to The God, just as other paths also exist for different people. So no, I am not anti-Christian. I am vehemently opposed to the exclusivist claims that are made for Christianity. And I am very certain that particular teachings and traditions of the Faith are specifically wrong. They dont necessarily prevent the
        Faith from working, thank heaven.

        I shall tackle your legitimate question about Grace in other faiths a bit later on.
        In the meantime, I’m still waiting for your list of Historians with documented claims about the huge numbers of Christian Martyrs under Rome.

        Cheers, Rian.

        Like

      • I am vehemently opposed to the exclusivist claims that are made for Christianity

        Fine. But your opinion doesn’t alter reality.

        Are you prepared to swear on a stack of Bibles that there is absolutely no other means of entering this hypothetical Heaven than by having faith in Christ?

        I’m not God. But if that’s the reality it is the reality, whatever you or I think.

        since I have seen Christianity at work all my life, and very successfully in many occasions, I am convinced totally that it can be a valid and beautiful path to The God, just as other paths also exist for different people

        The flaw in that pop spirituality concept is that all spiritual quests lead to God. They clearly don’t.

        Another flaw is the assumption that there is no truth. It’s all subjective.

        Your major flaw in the two brothers story is the assumption that as long as we lead a “good” life (and with your worldview that “good” must be subjective) then we will get to Heaven.

        That’s an assumption that entrance into heaven is on the basis of merit (our works) rather than God’s grace.

        Are you “good” enough to get to heaven? No. Am I? No again. We can’t work our way to heaven

        But grace abounds. Although it’s a concept I think you have difficulty in understanding.

        In the meantime, I’m still waiting for your list of Historians with documented claims about the huge numbers of Christian Martyrs under Rome

        We’ve been through this. You didn’t accept the evidence I gave so I’m not going to go through that again. Besides it’s trivial compared to the subject we are talking about now.

        Like

      • Okay Bryan,
        Just a couple more points to make on your rash contention that I am anti-Christian. For a start, I think it could be said that a person who is truly anti-Christian would surely make a distinct effort in his life to dissuade other folks to apostasize from their Christian faith and adherence. That I would never do. In my lectures I make a big point of encouraging people to understand and appreciate the great heritage that they have in their Christianity, as well as to better appreciate the Doctrines of their faith.

        I firmly believe that in Christianity there are a number of the finest features that could well be emulated and taken on board by other religions and their adherents. But conversely too, I hold that there are many features in the other religions of the world that could profitably be adopted by the Christian Churches. I recall the poignant words spoken by that most famous of Hindu converts after many years of Christian faithfulness – Sadhu Sundar Singh. “The children of God are very dear, – but very queer. Very nice but very narrow.” There were certain beautiful things in Hinduism that he still missed.

        As I keep pointing out too, there are many many deep dark divisions within Christianity, and it may well be that each variety carries some particular ideal or ideal that one or more of the others could adopt and develop. Not one Christian Church is perfect in its doctrine or its practices.

        Can you honestly state that absolutely no-one other than a Christian has ever turned his life around; or gone through a great salvation experience without knowledge of Christ? Can you truly say that absolutely no person other than a Christian has ever experienced Grace?

        I notice that in your passionate comments about Grace, you never once addressed the situation that I described in my hypothetical about the two Cambodians. In their case, I would have no doubt that the Khmer brother may well have had his ‘sins forgiven’. And there is Grace at work there without any doubt. BUT I would maintain that that same Grace should not at the same time, have constituted for that individual a ‘Get out of Hell free’ Card which exempts him from having to ‘work out his salvation’ as Paul put it. He has thus got a most wonderful opportunity to help make things right and serve his fellow men, because despite that Grace at the last, he still is not a perfect being.

        Are you going to swear black and blue that in my story, both Justice and Grace have been served for those two brothers? For me, that fallen and forgiven brother will still have to serve a long time making up for his misdoings; although his spirit will be better geared towards the job of work he still has to do. That is Karma well and truly at work for good as much as Grace.

        That kindly Buddhist brother may well have the chance to add to his ‘repertoire’ as it were, some of the best features within Christianity in a future life. Perhaps he learnt some of the other bitter lessons in a previous lifetime. Perhaps he has already experienced some degree of Grace; and may well be offered greater opportunities to serve The God and his fellow man in the future. But Heaven as a final stopping point after just one little lifetime just appears to me like an utter waste. I find no attractiveness about it.

        But I am definitely NOT anti-Christian.

        Rian

        Like

      • Not one Christian Church is perfect in its doctrine or its practices.

        Obviously. So?

        Can you honestly state that absolutely no-one other than a Christian has ever turned his life around; or gone through a great salvation experience without knowledge of Christ?

        That’s a two part question. No to the first bit. And the second?…Christ is the only way I know to salvation.

        Can you truly say that absolutely no person other than a Christian has ever experienced Grace?

        No. Grace comes from God and I’m sure non-Christians have experienced God’s grace, although they may not recognise it..

        BUT I would maintain that that same Grace should not at the same time, have constituted for that individual a ‘Get out of Hell free’ Card which exempts him from having to ‘work out his salvation’ as Paul put it

        Again you misunderstand what grace is. It is not given for “good works”. We can’t earn our way to Heaven. Or to grace.

        I notice that in your passionate comments about Grace, you never once addressed the situation that I described in my hypothetical about the two Cambodians. I

        I did address the situation. OK I’ll say it again. Your major flaw in the two brothers story is the assumption that as long as we lead a “good” life (and with your worldview that “good” must be subjective) then we will get to Heaven.

        That’s an assumption that entrance into heaven is on the basis of merit (our works) rather than God’s grace.

        Are you “good” enough to get to heaven? No. Am I? No again. We can’t work our way to heaven

        Are you going to swear black and blue that in my story, both Justice and Grace have been served for those two brothers

        God is love so yes, I assume that whatever happened God’s grace would be in action. As neither you or I are God, we can’t know what happens to either hypothetical brother.

        But I am definitely NOT anti-Christian.

        Perhaps not openly but you seem to have a sneering superior attitude towards Christians and Christian faith.

        Like

      • Rian,

        Some days ago, you scoffed at my contention about the way the Jews were progressively demonized by Christianity very seriously following the Crucifixion. I offered perfectly good facts that demonstrated leading Church Fathers of the 2nd Century who did just that.

        No Rian, you did not give perfectly good facts.

        Fact 1 that you’ve ignored. We have the writings of the church fathers and far from advocating a different scripture, they merely demonise the Jews and whiten the Romans, by ignoring the scriptures

        Fact 2 that you’ve ignored. This change in scriptures to demonise the Jews that you speak of, would have been picked up in the New testament manuscripts we have from that era. In fact we don’t have any changes to show that the jews were demonised and romans vindicated.

        Fact 3 you’ve ignored. We have a good record of the disputes that occurred between Christians and their opponents in the first and second centuries of the common era. None of these disputes were ever about changes in the New testament writings to have the Jews demonised and romans vindicated. Had the change you speak of actually occurred, it would have caused fierce debate which would have been recorded in the annals of church history.

        “I gave details of the things they said. You described my list as ‘Garbage’. And you may recall that it was only in the last 50 years that the Vatican removed a particularly odious phrase from their Liturgy. And that was the one about the ‘perfidious Jews.’”

        Fact 4 that you’ve ignored. For centuries, the Catholic Church banned access to the Bible, first by translating it into Latin and reading it in Latin (which the common people did not understand) then by burning everyone who dared translate it into the vernacular (eg. William Tyndale, Hugh Latimer, etc). Once the fact that most of the authors of the New Testament were Jews was hidden from the populace, it was easy to stir up hatred against the Jews. Once the Bible was restored to the people, overtures of peace began to be made to the Jews again, because the New Testament did not endorse the demonization of the Jews/vindication of the Romans. Assuming you are correct that the Catholic Church changed the New Testament to demonise the Jews, you would have us believe that it forgets to change the authors thereof from being Jews, and then locks up access to it, despite the fact that it can now be used to justify anti-Semitism! What strange twisted logic you have fallen into.

        Fact 5 that you’ve ignored. Just as we have a standard by which something that looks like a genuine banknote is deemed to be genuine or not, we have a standard by which any given brand of Christianity is deemed genuine or not. That standard is called the Bible. The Roman Catholic Church has always tried to undermine the standard by which alleged Christian practices are deemed genuine or not. Judaism has undermined it as well by its rejection of Jesus of Nazareth as the Messiah. Therefore any allusion to what Jews and Catholics do or don’t do is utter garbage.

        And since people such as yourself and justice Cohn also seek to undermine this standard by reference to what the Catholic Church, says and does, your comments and authority on the matter of Christianity must be regarded as garbage too.

        Like

      • Bryan,
        you tell me that I didnt accept the evidence you supplied regarding the presumed huge numbers of martyrs under Rome. Just what evidence????

        Now you are either telling real porkies, or else your brain must be softening. To date you have supplied me with not a single referral to any present day historian who defends the old traditional tales of Martyrdom. And you did a prime job of sneering when I listed some 20 books and encyclopaedic references that back up my thesis. 3000 to 6000 is about the limit most authorities allow nowadays.

        I know the old quotes from Tacitus, Pliny and the rest perfectly well, and they are simply not modern historians. Their accounts are well represented and discussed in all of the books that I have read.

        Come clean and give me some modern historical references please. I recall some 8 or 9 years back, I was having a debate with a highly educated Catholic convert. He insisted that there were hundreds of thousands of Christians martyred under Rome. I challenged him on the matter, and he went back and tried to find any modern authorities to refute me. He got back some time later and sheepishly said “well, even a number like 5000 shows the courage and faith of these people.’ The only comment you made on the matter to me the other month, was that the actual numbers just dont matter. It is rather as my Catholic friend said.

        With all you Christian Apologists on this blog, how is it that not one person has been able to supply me with authorities to back up the huge numbers? There’s davinci, – he at least goes through the motions of giving some sort of an argument when he is debating with me. I expect a fair bit from you.

        Cant I even shame you into admitting that you have not given me any quotes? Now on other topics here, you have been tossing your mate Yanchey (was it?) and other writers. But on this one? No. I’m happy to admit if I’m wrong about facts. On theological concepts of course, these are just not to be validated by historians, and ‘facts’ just dont come into those.
        Cheers, Rian. (I’m waiting!)

        Like

      • Rian,

        Why are you so obsessed with what is basically triviality and so sure that “your” books are accurate.

        The fact is that no-one knows exactly how many were martyred under Rome. Certainly not yourself.

        Your conjecture – not based on any personal knowledge – is as baseless as any other.

        So, Let’s move to the present shall we.

        The Center for the Study of Global Christianity estimates that more than 70 million Christians have been martyred
        over the last two millennia. More than half of these were in the 20th century under fascist and communist regimes. For the early 21st century, it estimates that 1million Christians were killed over the 10‐year period from 2000–2010, an average of approximately 100,000 Christians killed each year.

        Of course, the figures may be exaggerated.

        But Nearly twice as many Christians died for their faith in the past year than in 2012, according to Open Doors International’s 2014 World Watch List.

        Open Doors International, a charity that supports Christians under pressure for their faith, said 2,123 Christians were reported to have been killed during the 12 months ending Oct. 31, 2013. That compares to 1,201 during the previous 12 months. During the most recent period, more Christians were killed in Syria alone than were killed globally in the previous year.

        The World Watch List, which annually monitors the media worldwide for all reported incidents, emphasises that this is the “very, very minimum” count – only those who have been documented as killed.

        Estimates of the total number killed range from around 7,000 or 8,000, according to the International Institute for Religious Freedom’s Thomas Schirrmacher, to the lofty 100,000 estimate of the Center for the Study of Global Christianity.

        Beyond those killed, the World Watch List recommends that three more categories of Christians should be considered: Christians whose death is never reported; Christians killed due to increased vulnerability, such as those in conflict areas; and Christians who die due to long-term discrimination.

        Taking these into account, as well as those whose deaths are reported by the media, the World Watch List suggests Schirrmacher’s estimation is roughly accurate, although the figure may be far higher still.

        Like

      • A staggering 100,000 Christians are killed annually because of their faith, according to the Vatican — and several human rights groups claim such anti-Christian violence is on the rise in countries like Pakistan, Nigeria and Egypt.

        “Credible research has reached the shocking conclusion that an estimate of more than 100,000 Christians are violently killed because of some relation to their faith every year,” Vatican spokesman Monsieur Silvano Maria Tomassi said in a radio address to the United Nations Human Rights Council.

        “Other Christians and other believers are subjected to forced displacement, to the destruction of their places of worship, to rape and to the abduction of their leaders, as it recently happened in the case of Bishops Yohanna Ibrahim and Boulos Yaziji, in Aleppo [Syria],” Tomassi said.

        While several human rights groups could not comment specifically on the Vatican’s number, organizations, like Persecution.Org, said the persecutions of Christians have been on the rise in places like Africa and the Middle East over the last decade.

        “Two-hundred million Christians currently live under persecution. It’s absolutely on the rise,” Jeff King, the group’s president, said.

        “It’s easing in the old Communist world and it’s rising in the Islamic world,” King said, noting in particular countries like Egypt, Pakistan and Nigeria. King said that the first major killing spree in recent years happened between 1998 and 2003, when he claims 10,000 Christians were murdered in Indonesia alone during those years.”

        Like

      • Well,davinci,
        I found myself just scratching my head as I tried to get my mind into your convoluted posting of five points.

        The other day, when you quoted the old point that the New Testament cant have been altered, since the Church Fathers give enough of it in their writings that if we lost it all, it could be reconstituted. That is certainly true, but you have not acknowledged the answering point I made, that the Fathers you mention there, were writing in the last decades of the 2nd century; and by then all alterations, corrections and modifications had been completed. As it happens, we have no contemporary record of discussions about the New Testament at all, until then.

        So any arguments or conflicts on the contents simply have not survived. Regardless of exactly when the Gospels were written, there is simply no record of them circulating widely for some long time. The very first Gospel to become known was a bowdlerized rewrite of Luke published by the heretic Marcion. It was probably when they saw the dangers in this influential book that the Proto-Orthodox decided to assemble their own Canon, and that was towards the end of 2nd century.

        Keep in mind davinci, that Ignatius and Justin are two of the most admired Confessors and Martyrs of whom we have record. Do you dispute that? Hm? Neither of them claims to have possession of the Gospels, or of having read them. Justin makes a couple of mentions of the ‘Memoirs of the Apostles’ and we cant really know just what they were.

        In regard once more to the demonizing of the Jews, well, I would point out that we have only minor scraps of New Testament wording prior to the latter half of the 2nd century, and by then clearly the damage had been done. Scholars have pointed out for example that scurrilous references to the Pharisees in the Gospels as we have them, are simply unwarranted. Again and again through the Gospels we find generalized lines about ‘The Jews’ plotting against Jesus, preparing to kill him, making public complaints about him, and then of course the killer line in the Trial scene where they cry for Jesus to be crucified, and to have Barabbas released. Those are bad enough.

        But then when you look at the writings of those same two – Ignatius and Justin, as well as by the Saintly Clement of Alexandria, and at the contents of the immensely popular Epistle of Barnabas, you find the most awful comments made against the Jews, – thus demonstrating that in the 2nd century, popular and authentic writings of the greatest Fathers were demonizing the Jews to the hilt. Luckily those worst bits didnt get into the eventual New Testament. The public crusade against the Jews went on non stop tho, and as I said reached new peaks with the ghastly rhetoric against the Jews from the most prominent of all the Byzantine Christians, John Chrysostom.

        The Romans being in government were handled with kid gloves, because with the total split from Judaism, it was in the approach to the Gentile alternatives, with emphasis on the rulers of the world, the Romans, the Church had to be politically cautious, duly blaming the Jews for the execution of Christ, and exonerating Rome. You appear to be saying that we can discount the mountain of stuff propagated within the Catholic Church; and yet you dont mention the violent invective that Martin Luther wrote and preached against the Jews during the Reformation.

        So whether you like it or not, there was a progressive and maintained approach against the Jews through all history. You wriggle round a lot of this by dismissing the Roman Catholic voice, which was the essential and major source. The New Testament clearly displays the start of all this, with its anti-Jewish flavour as opposed to its tolerance towards Rome established all through. Some time, davinci, just read through your New Testament and put yourself in the shoes of a Jewish devotee reading it.

        Rian. (part b to come)

        Like

      • To Continue, davinci Part (b).

        You say…..<<>>

        Well, Paul offers some idea of disputes he was engaged in prior to his departure from the scene in the 60s. But do we really have a good record of the disputes that occurred after that and into the second century?? As I stated in part 1, I’ve never heard of any at least until late in the 2nd, other than those about the early Christian Gnostics. (Even then, the problems with the Gnostic Valentinus were only documented late in the century.) So I ask just where can I read about them?

        I was very amused to see that you deny the Church could demonize the Jews when Jesus himself and the writers of the NT books were all Jews. For heavens sake, davinci, that is exactly what the Church has done up till recently – doing its level best to ignore the fact that Jesus and the Evangelists etc were Jewish. As a matter of fact, a lot of critical writing in the last century or so, was reminding the Church and its people about that very fact, as so many ignored it.

        You latch onto the classical argument in Fact 5, which further demonizes the Jews for their rejection of Jesus as Messiah. Look, in the eyes of the Jews, Jesus simply did not fulfil the job description for the Anointed One; and certain key sayings of Jesus were just horrendous to the ears of the Jews. (and I’m not referring to any suggestions there about spoken Blasphemy.) On top of all that, the Jews were the experts on the subject of their own Scriptures. And just about all of the early Church Fathers were Greek in background, and could never properly grasp Judaism.

        cheers Rian.

        Like

      • Apologies, davinci,
        the way I tried to quote your words there in my posting of Friday 22.11pm failed. So here is the paragraph that got omitted and which I was refuting..

        .Fact 3 you’ve ignored. We have a good record of the disputes that occurred between Christians and their opponents in the first and second centuries of the common era. None of these disputes were ever about changes in the New testament writings to have the Jews demonised and romans vindicated. Had the change you speak of actually occurred, it would have caused fierce debate which would have been recorded in the annals of church history.

        cheers, Rian.

        Like

      • Sorry for a long posting here, but I just have to disenchant you, Bryan.
        re your last comment on 26th at 21.25pm.

        You speak quite logically about how the number of martyrs under Rome simply is a trivial matter.

        On the surface, sure, this is trivial; but you surely can see cant you, that if there did happen to have been just a small percentage of genuine cases out of the hundreds of thousands that tradition claims, then in that case the Church has lied to us for centuries. Are you and the rest of the gang here on this blog, familiar with some of the really really big forgeries that the Church churned out?

        Have you heard of the ‘Donation of Constantine’? The ‘False Decretals’? No? Well you should have. These were incredibly influential and important forgeries that the Church made use of for many centuries. They caused all sorts of corruption in the Church. Do you hold that we should just not be at all concerned, if the Church consistently lied to us on all sorts of matters in the past? Just think of the present day with the lying and covering up of Sexual Abuse matters.

        When I discussed Roman Martyrdoms some months back during a brief correspondence with Father Paul Collins (you would surely know from the ABC etc) his comment was simply to confirm the well established view that for centuries the early Church ran a virtual ‘Cottage Industry’ which churned out fake documents and records. You know that a number of reports of martyrdoms were included in his church history by Eusebius in the mid fourth century. But most authorities are dubious about many of his so-called facts. Like just about all Martyrdom tales, the accounts were written centuries after the presumed events.

        Now understand that I completely concur with all you said about the multiple massacres of persons that included loads of Christians, round the world in this century, and I certainly don’t trivialize such things. Although of course, a very great proportion of today’s terrible killings were not exactly the same as classical Martyrdoms, in which the victim was personally presented with ‘the Question’, and duly made the decision voluntarily to die for the sake of Christ.

        Like me, you probably have never heard before of the Bollandists. This was a committee of Jesuit scholars who for no less than three hundred years since the 17th century, travelled round the world going to Churches, Monasteries and private collections to collect all documentation that they could find about Christian Saints and of course the martyrs of the early church. Would you believe they finished up producing 60 odd large volumes of material?

        They studied it carefully and methodically and sifted through it all with the aid of all the various scientific resources that they could find. In regard to the early Christian Martyrs, they found no more than a tiny handful of cases that seemed to have some validity. Even the documents that related these most reliable ones showed many indications of fake interpolations and a high proportion of anachronistic detail.

        Over and over again, identical wording and circumstances were reported in the different death accounts showing that a huge number were simply fabricated by duplicating older stories with new names. What is interesting and telling about many of these, is that they had frequently found three or more retellings of the same tales, with elaborate amplification of the story as it went along. Today the Vatican describes most of these as nothing but ‘Edifying Romances’, and admits that they are frauds.

        Perhaps you are aware of the massive number of fraudulent relics that hovered all round the Christian world through the late Medieval period. These were just sworn to by the Churches and Monasteries who held them. My favourite stories concern first a Pope who very generously gave as a present to some monarch or dignitary , a pair of huge Keys, which he identified in his attached letter to be the very same Keys of Heaven and Hell that Jesus donated to Saint Peter. And the other was a miraculous Feather which fell, it was claimed from the Wing of the Dove of the Holy Spirit.

        We simply don’t know just how much of the early history of the Christian Church is actually true. Do we just automatically accept everything we are told about it as true?

        Strictly speaking, of course Bryan, you are right. We DONT know exactly just how many Christians were literally martyred by Rome. But actually we DO know, (and it is nowadays a consensus among historians of the period), that the number was very very small. It is not at all difficult when you look at the actual records, to demonstrate that this claim is correct. The records that we have available prove this. The rest is legend. Not just my opinion. I personally wouldn’t know!

        Cheers. Rian.
        (by the way, thanks for the fascinating material on the Magi that you put in the other day. I’m putting a copy of that in my files.)

        Like

      • Rian,

        I think that most of us here already know that, as you put it, “the Church has lied to us for centuries”. In fact, when I think about it, I must have even instinctively known as a young child because I never trusted their word/teachings to be truth. And yet I trust implicitly in the Bible. I see that it is truly inspired—God’s word to us.

        So, is the Bible Catholic? No way! I wonder how many people think that it is though. No, it’s not Catholic. The Bible is a record of all the truth the original apostles received from God to guide us to eternal life. We have the Scriptures we can most definitely rely on.

        Like

      • Rian,

        You say that the New Testament was reconstituted by the end of the Second Century!

        Where is your proof that this happened? Do you have any manuscripts to indicate that? Or is it speculations from people that have deliberately chosen not to believe in the New Testament as a series of historical documents?

        Furthermore, if the Gospels had been changed as you claim, how do you and your scholars know this, since you don’t have access to the original documents?

        In fact you don’t have a shred of evidence to back up your claims. You have a lot of people who have speculated and rationalised what the original gospels might have said, but no proof whatsoever.

        And when one considers the speculations that they have made regarding the New Testament, one finds that it is all built on straw men, often in contradiction and denial of what the Scriptures actually say. Similar to your recent claim that the serpent was linked to the devil only since Gregory the Great, in spite of the Biblical evidence to the contrary.

        In fact the internal evidence of the New Testament itself proves that it was written before 70 AD, long before the Church Father had the opportunity to allegedly tamper with it. I can give you example after example that proves this. But you are not prepared to examine the evidence.

        Like

    • Strewth

      There is no Biblical evidence to show that all we will do in heaven is sit before the throne singing, although this will be a component of our experience there.

      The Bible says that:

      Eye has not seen, nor ear heard neither has it entered into the thoughts of man what God has prepared for those that love Him. 1 Cor. 2:9

      Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. 1 John 3:2.

      It’s sad that people have reduced heaven to sitting on clouds with harps. But… this is where one is led when the Bible is taken out of the picture.

      As the successful actor has once said to the unsuccessful clergyman:
      “Sir, you make things that are real seem like unreal fantasies, whilst we make unreal fantasies seem real”.

      Like

      • Dr. Hassan, davinci, littel arnie,

        To join in worship with Heaven, right here, right now in the land of the living, is to participate in God’s miraculous creative power; His incredible love shed abroad for us. How much more wondrous must it be in Heaven?

        Like

      • Monica,
        I am not knocking participating in sacred music. But let’s not lose sight of the reality. Participating in sacred music is only a taste of heaven, not the full reality thereof.
        Some people however, equate heaven only with music and sitting around playing our harps, either on clouds or before Christ’s judgment throne. This viewpoint is utterly wrong.
        As one atheist has once put it – “Can you imagine how boring it would be if the only thing we did was sit around playing harps? No thanks! I’d rather go to hell and meet interesting people there”

        Like

      • Are Christians persecuted for their spiritual beliefs, or is that just an excuse in particular cultures? As also when Christians do the persecuting? Christians of course are imperfect people with a perfect religion, but other religions are, it seems, the source of imperfection!

        Utøya Island killings in Norway
        In July 2011, Anders Behring Breivik was arrested and charged with terrorism after a car bombing in Oslo and a mass shooting on Utøya island that killed 77 people. Hours prior to the events, Breivik released a 1,500-page manifesto detailing his beliefs that immigrants were undermining Norway’s traditional Christian values, and identifying himself as a “Christian crusader” .

        Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda
        The Lord’s Resistance Army, a cult and guerrilla army, was engaged in an armed rebellion against the Ugandan government in 2005. It has been accused of using child soldiers and of committing numerous crimes against humanity; including massacres, abductions, mutilation, torture, rape, and using forced child labourers as soldiers, porters, and sex slaves. It is led by Joseph Kony, who proclaims himself the spokesperson of God and a spirit medium, primarily of the “Holy Spirit” which the Acholi believe can represent itself in many manifestations. LRA fighters wear rosary beads and recite passages from the Bible before battle.

        Christian Identity and anti-abortion violence in the United States
        After 1981, members of groups such as the Army of God began attacking abortion clinics and doctors across the United States. A number of terrorist attacks were attributed by Bruce Hoffman to individuals and groups with ties to the Christian Identity and Christian Patriot movements, including the Lambs of Christ.[88] A group called Concerned Christians was deported from Israel on suspicion of planning to attack holy sites in Jerusalem at the end of 1999; they believed that their deaths would “lead them to heaven”.

        Terrorism scholar Aref M. Al-Khattar has listed The Covenant, The Sword, and the Arm of the Lord (CSA), Defensive Action, the Montana Freemen, and some “Christian militia” as groups that “can be placed under the category of far-right-wing terrorism” that “has a religious (Christian) component”.[95]

        In 1996 three men—Charles Barbee, Robert Berry and Jay Merelle—were charged with two bank robberies and bombings at the banks, a Spokane newspaper, and a Planned Parenthood office in Washington state. The men were anti-Semetic Christian Identity theorists who believed that God wanted them to carry out violent attacks and that such attacks will hasten the ascendancy of Aryan race.[96]The National Liberation Front of Tripura is a proscribed terrorist organization in India. Group activities have been described as Christian terrorists engaging in terrorist violence motivated by their Christian beliefs.] The NLFT says that it is fighting not only for the removal of Bengali immigrants from the tribal areas, “but also for the tribal areas of the state to become overtly Christian”, and “has warned members of the tribal community that they may be attacked if they do not accept its Christian agenda”.] The state government contends that the Baptist Church of Tripura supplies arms and gives financial support to the NLFT. Over 20 Hindus in Tripura were reported to have been killed by the NLFT from 1999 to 2001 for resisting forced conversion to Christianity.[29] These forcible conversions, sometimes including the use of “rape as a means of intimidation”, have also been noted by academics outside of India.[30] In 2000, the NLFT broke into a temple and gunned down a popular Hindu preacher popularly known as Shanti Kali.[22]

        Odisha
        In 2007 a tribal spiritual Hindu monk, Swami Lakshmanananda Saraswati, was gunned down along with four disciples on the Hindu festive day of Krishna Janmashtami by a group of 30–40 armed men.[33] Later, the Maoist terrorist leader Sabyasachi Panda admitted responsibility for the assassination, saying that the Maoists had intervened in the religious dispute on behalf of Christians and Dalits.[34][35] The non-governmental organization Justice on Trial disputed that there had been Maoist involvement, and quoted the Swami as claiming that Christian missionaries had earlier attacked him eight times.[36][37]

        Sabra and Shatila massacre in Lebanon
        Maronite Christian militias perpetrated the Karantina and Tel al-Zaatar massacres of Palestinians and Lebanese Muslims during Lebanon’s 1975–1990 civil war. The 1982 Sabra and Shatila massacre, which targeted unarmed Palestinian refugees for rape and murder, was considered to be genocide by the United Nations General Assembly.[38] A British photographer present during the incident said that “People who committed the acts of murder that I saw that day were wearing [crucifixes] and were calling themselves Christians.”[39] After the end of the civil war, Christian militias refused to disband, concentrating in the Israeli-occupied south of the country, where they terrorized Muslim and Druze villages and forcefully recruited men and boys from those communities into their groups.[40]

        Northern Ireland paramilitaries
        The Troubles in Northern Ireland are widely seen as an ethno-nationalist conflict that was not religious in nature. Some experts who subscribe to this view argue that religion was also a motivating factor, with Philip Purpura calling it an “overlap” between religious terrorism and ethnic/nationalist terrorism,[55][56][57] a characterization that is at odds with multiple other analysts.

        Like

    • “Philip Yancey – someone you should read”

      Alternatively you could just hit yourself in the head with a hammer. Which makes about as much sense as reading Yancey and feels just as good when you stop.

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s