Ancient Astronauts
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How are we to defend against claims that ancient aliens came down in antiquity and that those are the beings we called God or the gods?

Teh Unforgivable Sin
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Have I blasphemed against the Holy Spirit?

Matthew 12:23-32 (NAS);NIV;HCSB;SBLGNT
"All the crowds were amazed, and were saying, "This man cannot be the Son of David, can he?" But, when the Pharisees heard this, they said, "This man casts out demons only by Beelzebul the ruler of the demons." And, knowing their thoughts ("Eidws de tas enthumhseis autwn") Jesus said to them, "Any kingdom divided against ("meristheisa kath' eauths") itself is laid waste; and any city or house divided against itself will not stand. If Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself; how then will his kingdom stand? If I by Beelzebul cast out demons, by whom do your sons cast them out? For this reason, they will be your judges. But, if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. Or how can anyone enter the strong man's house and carry off his property, unless he first binds the strong man? And then he will plunder his house. He who is not with Me is against Me ("kat' emou"); and he who does not gather wiht Me scatters. Therefore I say to you, and sin and blasphemy shall be frogiven people, but blasphemy against the Spirit shall not be forgiven. Whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come.""

Mark 3:22-30 (NAS);NIV;HCSB;SBLGNT
"The scribes who came down from Jerusalem were saying, "He is possessed by Beelzebul," and "He casts out the demons by the ruler of the demons." And He called them to Himself and began speaking to them in parables, "How can Satan cast out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. If a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. If Satan rises up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but he is finished! But no one can enter the strong man's house and plunder his property unless he first binds the strong man, and then he will plunder his house. Truly I say to you, all sins shall be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they utter; but he who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin" -- because they were saying, "He has an unclean spirit."

Luke 12:10 (NAS) (the words of Jesus);NIV;HCSB;SBLGNT
"And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but he who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him."

Here is the situation: I made the good confession and was baptized at the tender age of 14. Now, after nearly 14 years of living the Christian life and resisting any doubt that may come to my mind as an attack of Satan, I have begun to let doubts of many and various kinds enter into my mind, desiring to honestly examine my faith but also scaring myself greatly by what thoughts I have been thinking. Now, I have never outright denied my faith, only questioned.

One of those questions was regarding all the various, often contradictory, religions that exist in the world. I wondered whether, in actuality, God/the gods were simply "messing with us" or "having a little fun" by giving us, for example, contradictory but also exclusive ways to save our souls, and thus distressing us greatly. I also put questions about this to various Christian mailing lists/discussion communiites. This thought might be construed as attributing evil to what is in actuality good; attributing evil to all aspects of religion (including the Christian one and, thus, to Christ Himself and to His Holy Spirit). While I have never outright placed myself in agreement with these thoughts (I have only wondered), attributing evil to good seems to be what the scribes/Pharisees were doing in the passages above. I did none of this with malicious intent and, indeed, desired these thoughts truly to be wrong. One of the above passages implies that Christ responded in the way He did based on the fact that he "perceived" their "enthumhsis", which seems often to be taken and translated to say that He knew their true intentions, yet, the term "enthumhsis" seems to actually have the meaning of "considerations/reflections/ideas/conceptions/ponderings" rather than "intentions" and what I was doing seems to fit into these categories, even though I had no malicious intent. Since I never outright ascented to these thoughts, would "wondering" also fall into this category and would I then be guilty of blaspheming against the Holy Spirit? Also, I feel that I am still with Him in my heart as I don't want my wonderings to be true, so how does the phrase "if I am not with Him, I am against Him" apply, or does it?

Do I misunderstand the nature of blasphemy?

Numbers 15:30 (NAS)
"But the person who does anything defiantly,...that one is blaspheming the LORD..."

2 Kings 19:22 (NAS)
"Whom have you reproached and blasphemed? And against whom have you raised your voice, and haughtily lifted up your eyes? Against the Holy One of Israle!"

Acts 13:45 (NAS)
"But when the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and began contradicting the things spoken by Paul, and were blaspheming."

In these cases, we see malice/haughtiness/etc. associated quite directly with blasphemy. THough I have wondered whether I was being haughty in thinking what I was thinking, I ultimately believe my questions were honest/sincere and not haughty.

Some definitions on include malicious intent for the term "blasphemy" while others simply define it as speaking evil against or speaking irreverently against.

Please note that, when I had these thoughts, I had not even considered these passages or that this might be blasphemous. So, it might be argued that I was doing this in ignorance...

1 Timothy 1:12-14 (NAS);NIV;HCSB;SBLGNT
"I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service, even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent agressor. Yet I was shown mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief; and the grace of our Lord was more than abundant, with the faith and love which are found in Christ Jesus."

Paul, then, was shown mercy for his sins, including blasphemies (of the Holy Spirit?), because he did them in ignornace. There are numerous other cases, both in the Old and New Testaments, of God being more lenient on those who commit sins in ignorance.

I have prayed throughout this process of questioning that God would see me thorugh it, preserving my soul.

1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 (NAS);NIV;HCSB;SBLGNT
"Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be prserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass."

I also pryaed that God might give me a sign (any root of "blasphem-" said thrice before last night was up), if, indeed, I had lost my soul. This never happened.

With all this in mind, have I blasphemed the Holy Spirit and do I have any hope of not being eternally condemned?

Mark of the Beast and Free Masonry
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Could free masonry and all that is associated with it be being referred to in the Revelation's narrative of the Second Beast and his Mark? Since we have masonic symbols on our money and since the American dollar has now basically become the standard of the world and might soon become the standard for the etire world's population, could American money be the Second Beast's Mark? Was masonry actually started by one man, as far as we can tell? As far as we can say, did he speak arrogant and blasphemous words and did he, in whatever sense, have the power to call fire down from heaven? Could his name have added up to tripple-six, so that, by taking American money, we would be, in a sense, taking the Mark of the Beast? If all this is the case, this might bolster the case for this association. Is there any reason(s) why this association will not work?

The Cloud and the Fire
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We read in the Scriptures that God went before (and, in one case, behind) the Israelites in a cloud by day and a fire by night.

Could there have been some (currently known) scientific phenomenon responsible for this cloud/fire? Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that God wasn't responsible for it ultimately, but it would seem that God does use natural methods to accomplish at least some of his goals.

Cultural Norms v. Universal Moral Standards
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Would the writers of the New Testament have made a distinction between purely cultural norms and universal moral standards (applicable beyond place or time), or is this distinction purely a modern invention? Would NT writers have allowed for and accepted the possibility of cultural norms/standards changing?

Did even the secular Graeco-Roman society during the time of the early Church make such a distinction as I am discussing here? For instance, was there a distinction made between the term "aischros" ("shameful") and the term "kakos" ("bad"), where the former simply applied to a particular society's notion of "shame" but where the latter were applied more broadly to a universal standard of morality? Would this have been the same sort of application of terms made in regard to societal v. universal moral norms within the early Christian Church? Just to use an example, let us consider the case of 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 wherein Pual writes that it is "shameful" ("aischron") for a woman to speak within the assembly ("en ekklesia"). Here, Paul did not use any term meaning "bad" outright; he simply used a term meaning "shameful". (It has been argued that, in Corinth, it was literally unlawful even in its secular society for women to speak in public assemblies. Let's take this as a given for the moment.) So, does this mean that, if Paul hypothetically happened to be preaching to a non-Graeco-Roman society (say, modern-day America) where women speaking in assemblies was acceptable, would he have imposed the same standard about women not speaking in the assembly as he did in this Corinthian letter, or would he have accepted women speaking in the assembly in this hypothetical society?

Outside of the Bible, are there any examples in early Church history where the Church accepted cultural normative differences in various societies?

Shameful to Speak in Church (1 Corinthians 14:34-35)
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Simple but (I think) legitimate question: Why, precisely, is this shameful?

Is there anything else biblically, linguistically, culturally, or historically that may be of help to us here?

I ask to discover the motivation behind such a statement.

As I understand the Scriptures, it is most often if not always the "motivation" behind the "rules" that counts, not *necessarily* the rules themselves. I also think that discovering the motivation behind particular rules will help us in situations where the Bible isn't 100% explicit in what one should or should not do in a very specific situation.

Men and Women
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As many of you know, the Greek words for "man" and "woman" can also be used to refer respectively to refer to "husband" and "wife".

Therefore, when relations between men and woman are being discussed in the New Testament, how are we to determine whether the relationship between the husband and the wife is specifically being referred to or whether the general relationship between men and women is being referred to? Many might respond to this question with one word: "context". However, one could argue that, in more cases than most might realize, "context" may not be as clear as one might like.

For instance, In 1 Timothy 2:12 ff., we read that Paul did not allow a "gunh" (the word for woman OR wife) to teach or have authority over an "anhr" ("man" or "husband"). If this applies to the relationship between ALL men and ALL women, then we are relatively clear, but if this applies specifically to husbands and wives, then we are faced with the question of how (if at all) this applies to single men and women.

Even though I cite this example specifically, I am interested in exploring the more general question with whch I began, i.e., how we are to determine when anhr/gunh mean generally "man/woman" and when they mean "husband/wife".

Actually, I am wondering whether there is any historical evidence for single (specifically) women having different standards from married women.


Space Exploration
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Genesis 1:26
"Then God said, 'Let Us make man in our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth...'"

In this verse, we observe that God has given mankind authority "over all the EARTH". However, though He has given us (understood from future scriptures) the Sun, Moon and stars (Does the term "stars" for the Hebrews include all other celestial bodies as well?) for light and for signs/seasons (Genesis 1:14-18), God never explicitly commands mankind to “subdue” or “rule” over this realm as He did for the Earth.

Therefore, are we overstepping our boundaries in exploring and utilizing space as we have since the mid 20th century? Though I do not know Hebrew myself (I only know Greek), I was discussing with another beginning/amateur Hebrew student who claimed that the term "earth" here can also refer in the Hebrew mind to what we would call the "universe" or all that is visibly around us. Is this true? Might such an assertion be supported by the fact that the "birds of the sky" are included in what mankind is told to subdue/rule? Was not the Hebrew notion of "sky" basically from the ground up? I see in LXX that the term for "earth" here is translated as "ge" (which seems to have more the sense of the land or the ground within it than, say, a word like "kosmos").

I would very much appreciate any insight you may be able to provide.


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