April 7, 2012

"77% Believe Jesus Rose From the Dead."

Is that likely voters? What's the margin of error? Rasmussen has a poll.
Seventy-eight percent (78%) think Jesus was the son of God. Sixteen percent (16%) don't believe that's true.

Seventy-seven percent (77%) believe Jesus rose from the dead, while 16% reject the central Christian tenet of the Resurrection.
What's with the 1% who think Jesus was the son of God but did not rise from the dead?

It's a survey of 1,000 adults and the margin of error is is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Does your religion have less than a 3 percentage point margin of error and more than a 95% level of confidence? Should one defer to the choice of the overwhelming majority of your fellow citizens? Isn't it funny that, historically, that's what most human beings have done?
Predictably, Evangelical Christians, other Protestants and Catholics believe strongly in Christ’s divinity. Most non-Christian Americans believe Jesus did exist, but they are more evenly divided on whether he was the son of God and rose from the dead.
What?! Non-Christians are evenly divided on whether he was the son of God and rose from the dead?! Who are these people who believe Jesus was the son of God and rose from the dead but don't call themselves Christians? I'd like to ask them a few more questions. Are these people who think that you shouldn't call yourself a Christian if you are not doing a good enough job of following the teachings of Jesus Christ?
Most Americans of all racial backgrounds believe in the divinity of Christ, but black adults share this belief even more than white adults and adults of other races.
For all our talk about race, we don't talk that much about the role of religious beliefs. I'd love to see the percentages on that, but the linked article doesn't say, and though I have a Rasmussen subscription, I'd need a Platinum subscription to get to that level of detail.

Do you think you need to believe in Jesus to go to Heaven when you die? Rasmussen didn't ask that question. Maybe believing in Jesus is like having a Platinum subscription.

Just kidding.

Happy Easter to everybody, everywhere.

61 comments:

MadisonMan said...

I think Jesus did exist. Sometimes I think he rose from the dead, sometimes I don't.

Whether or not he did, it doesn't detract from his message, in my opinion.

MadisonMan said...

Or maybe I should have typed: He and His.

shiloh said...

Damn, Rasmussen has a poll for everything lol. Hopefully there are many crosstabs.

btw, as we said in the '60s, Jesus is comin' again, and boy is he pissed!

rhhardin said...

Wittgenstein:

Queer as it sounds : The historical accounts in the Gospels might, historically speaking, be demonstrably false and yet belief would lose nothing by this : _not_, however, because it concerns `univeral truths of reason'! Rather, because historical proof (the historical proof-game) is irrelevant to belief. This message (the Gospels) is seized on by men believingly (ie. lovingly). _That_ is the certainty charactrerizing this particular acceptance-as-true, not something _else_.

A believer's relation to these narratives is _neither_ the relation to historical truth (probability), _nor yet_ that to a theory consisting of `truths of reason.' There is such a thing. - (We have quite different attitudes even to different species of what we call fiction!)

I read : ``No man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost.'' - And it is true : I cannot call him _Lord_; because that says nothing to me. I could call him ``the paragon,' `God' even - or rather, I can understand it when he is called thus ; but I cannot utter the word ``Lord'' with meaning. _Because I do not believe_ that he will come to judge me ; because _that_ says nothing to me. And it could say something to me, only if I lived _completely_ differently.

What inclines even me to believe in Christ's Resurrection? It is as though I play with the thought. - If he did not rise from the dead, then he decomposed in the grave like any other man. _He is dead and decomposed._ In that case he is a teacher like any other and can no longer _help_ ; and once more we are orphaned and alone. So we have to content ourselves with wisdom and speculation. We are in a sort of hell where we can do nothing but dream, roofed in, as it were, and cut off from heaven. But if I am to be REALLY saved, - what I need is _certainty_ - not wisdom, dreams or speculation - and this certainty is faith. And faith is faith in what is needed by my _heart_, my _soul_, not my speculative intelligence. For it is my soul with its passions, as it were with its flesh and blood, that has to be saved, not my abstract mind. Perhaps we can say : Only _love_ can believe the Resurrection. Or : It is _love_ that believes the Resurrection. We might say : Redeeming love believes even in the Resurrection ; holds fast even to the Resurrection. What combats doubt is, as it were, _redemption_. Holding fast to _this_ must be holding fast to that belief. So what that means is : first you must be redeemed and hold on to your redemption (keep hold of your redemption) - then you will see that you are holding fast to this belief. So this can come about only if you no longer rest your weight on the earth but suspend yourself from heaven. Then _everything_ will be different and it will be `no wonder' if you can do things that you cannot do now. (A man who is suspended looks the same as one who is standing, but the interplay of forces within him is nevertheless quite different, so that he can act quite differently than can a standing man.)

_Culture and Value_ p.32-33 (1937)

David said...

The margin of error and the confidence level are a characteristic of the poll, not the religion. In effect, they're the same thing; depending on what confidence level you set, you'll get a wider (more confidence) or narrower (less confidence) margin of error. To be 99% sure that the poll result is "True" (that is, is equal to the actual number of people in the population who believe in Jesus' divinity) you'd need a much wider margin.

Pedantic? No. Why do you ask?

More importantly, this -- rather than that Jews secretly control the government and international bankins -- is why America is such a strong supporter of Israel. If you believe that Jesus is the Son of God, then you believe in God. And not just any God, but in the God of Moses. You also believe, because your hope of salvation depends upon it, that the promises that God makes to His people are eternal. Thus, on your hope of salvation, you believe that Israel belongs to the Jews because God promised it to them. 76% of Americans believe that their God promised Israel to the Jews.

(I know that there are other Christian theologies that hold that the birth of Jesus marked the end of God's promises to the Jews, but those are outside of the US mainstream. As the Pope said, salvation comes from the Jews.)

The Concrete Dog said...
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edutcher said...

Adults is all adults, not registered or likely voters.

Good Friday and Easter aren't The Blonde's best days for reasons I've noted briefly before, but Very Happy Easter - and Passover - to Meadhouse and all the Althousians.

Ann Althouse said...

Non-Christians are evenly divided on whether he was the son of God and rose from the dead?! Who are these people who believe Jesus was the son of God and rose from the dead but don't call themselves Christians?

I have a feeling these are the non-Lefties who find belief inconvenient for their otherwise sybaritic lifestyle, but have that nagging feeling that they're going to pay one day.

Do you think you need to believe in Jesus to go to Heaven when you die?

He said, "I am the Resurrection and the Life. All that believeth in Me shall live". If you believe He lived and died and was resurrected - we do have a written record, after all - it's pretty hard to think otherwise.

Maybe being believing in Jesus is like having a Platinum subscription.

If there's a precious stone more expensive than platinum (emerald?), that would be it.

MadisonMan said...

I think Jesus did exist. Sometimes I think he rose from the dead, sometimes I don't.

Whether or not he did, it doesn't detract from his message, in my opinion.


The records of the Roman Empire (like the Nazis, the Romans wrote down everything) verify his existence and his execution.

And, yes, His message changed the world.

And, yes, you capitalize His and He.

PS If He's coming and He's mad, the Lefties are in big trouble.

Quayle said...

Do you think you need to believe in Jesus to go to Heaven when you die?

No.

I believe that the whole thing will even out, if not here then hereafter.

I believe that there is lots of teaching and discussion and 'life' going on in the next life.

I believe that before anyone is 'judged' by God, everyone will get a chance to hear about Christ's plan for us all and His roll in it, figure it all out for themselves, make their own conclusions.

And I believe that, except for those that turn from an absolute knowledge gained by revelation, all will receive a glory that far, far surpasses anything that we can imagine or hope for.

The Concrete Dog said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Concrete Dog said...

long ago
77 percent
of the anasazi indians
believd
i was a god

my job was th
tiny red n yellw
cactus flowrs

and the black lines
on pottry

one yr
they blamd me when
the snow melt was
too small

which wasnt even
my job

my numbrs droppd
less than 20% believd
mostly old women

they took me
off my rock
anf left me in a pile
of pottry shards

where i stood for about
seventy yrs

thats why lower case g
gods dont make many promises

somefeller said...

VWhat's with the 1% who think Jesus was the son of God but did not rise from the dead?

Either they are confused or to be fair, they may be influenced by Eastern, non-Christian concepts of divinity, like Jesus as some sort of avatar. Such views are not uncommon, even among self-described Christians.

Are these people who think that you shouldn't call yourself a Christian if you are not doing a good enough job of following the teachings of Jesus Christ?

Possibly. There are a lot of people who think calling oneself a Christian is rather like calling oneself an intellectual. It's something you shouldn't do until others have described you as such, if even then.

Do you think you need to believe in Jesus to go to Heaven when you die?

Well, that is the big question, isn't it? Personally, I don't think so (and the question brings up difficult concepts like inculpable ignorance, etc.) but as the saying goes, that decision is above my pay grade. And in my case, I happen to believe in Jesus, so hopefully I'm covered and the Cthulu-worshipers have it wrong.

Happy Easter and blessings to all.

Lyssa said...

Seventy-eight percent (78%) think Jesus was the son of God. Sixteen percent (16%) don't believe that's true.

Seventy-seven percent (77%) believe Jesus rose from the dead, while 16% reject the central Christian tenet of the Resurrection.


So, only 6-7% just plain don't know? That's the part most amazing to me.

a psychiatrist who learned from veterans said...

Maybe believing in Jesus is like having a Platinum subscription.

Just kidding.

Painted in sky blue on the white brick wall of the Althouse restaurant.

How much is the matzo ball soup?

Luke Lea said...

You can't keep a good man down.

Fen said...

Lots of false prophets running amok these days. One of them even wants us to worship the State. Be wary.

Bender said...

Do you think you need to believe in Jesus to go to Heaven when you die?

Depends on what one means by "believe."

Is it necessary to believe intellectually, with one's mind, to have an affirmative knowledge that you believe?

Jesus says that that is not the case, that there are many who fed Him even without realizing they were doing so. Meanwhile, Jesus also says that there are plenty who proclaim, "Lord, Lord," to whom He will say "you don't know me." And Paul notes that the people of Athens worship God unknowingly with their altar to an unknown God.

So, what is important that you "know" Jesus and "believe" in your heart, i.e., you have a sincere thirst for love and hunger for truth in your heart. That is enough, for the God of Divine Mercy seeks to save, not to condemn, so He will help you the rest of the way.

At the same time, this "belief in the heart" is made more difficult if one intellectually affirmatively rejects Jesus and/or God and/or everything about Him.

As for going to Heaven without Jesus -- can anyone tell me "where" Heaven is, or how one can get there without Him taking us there? Can anyone describe to me the process of transferring one's spiritual being from this present physical reality to any other? Or how one goes about resurrecting your dead body and transforming it to a glorified state?

And since Heaven is, by definition, eternal union with God, why would anyone want to be in Heaven later if he does not want to have a relationship with Him now or during this life?

Make no mistake here, though. Heaven is not some exclusive club. God is offering free memberships to anyone who wants them. And Jesus is eager to give tickets for the trip there to anyone who wants them.

Accepting such tickets to heaven does not restrict our freedom or otherwise burden us. All it does is open us to love and truth. All it does is open us to what is truly good.

purplepenquin said...

What's with the 1% who think Jesus was the son of God but did not rise from the dead?

Sounds like some folks crossed-over in the primary (is he son of God?) to make a lil' mischief, and then voted their own party in the actual election...

Bruce Hayden said...

What is bothersome to me is that this is being published as late in Holy Week, we head into Easter.

Why would they do this at this precise time? Do the people doing the poll marvel at the naiveté of all those various types of Christians? Or, do they join in with the marvel? Why didn't they ask if people actually believed that God passed over the Hebrews in Egypt this week in antiquity? Or, that a burning bush actually talked to Moses? Or, that at one point Mohamed walked up into heaven?

My point here is that, no matter how good meaning the publishers of the poll were, I, and I suspect others, find the release of the poll at this precise time, to be somewhat offensive. A week later - fine. But, not Holy Saturday.

Megaera said...

"Most non-Christian Americans believe Jesus did exist, but they are more evenly divided on whether he was the son of God and rose from the dead."

Hard to tell from the language, which is the typical uninformed and opaque reporter-speak, but perhaps they espouse the heresy of Arius? Multiple Church Councils, how many Synods and excommunications later, and it's still rearing its head?

Chase said...

`

A Happy Easter to all!

Chase said...
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purplepenquin said...

If He's coming and He's mad, the Lefties are in big trouble.

I dunno about that. Keep in mind that He was a union carpenter, and ya'll know how those union-types always stick together. ;)


Seriously, the last (only?) time Jesus lost his temper it was a bunch of bankers who were ripping off the working-class that ended up getting their asses beaten by a cane.

I don't think Jesus looks at things as Right/Left, but rather Up/Down.

YoungHegelian said...
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traditionalguy said...

God is Super Natural. Who would want a god who was all wrath and anger but could do nothing to help us since he has no power?

And who would respect a Father who told his son to go through the scourging and then the abandonment on the cross by that same Father, but then said to Him, "Sorry, but I don't do resurrections, that was all a trick on you and your pathetic believers who will get the same treatment."

YoungHegelian said...

Even in regards to those visibly within the Church and of virtuous mien, the mechanisms of salvation are a Mystery of faith that have exercised the best minds of Christendom.

It just gets thornier when when one deals with the possibility of "Virtuous Pagans".

Remember, above all, that God saves whom He willeth. If there is any possible scenario (e.g the Church visible vs the Church invisible) whereby a non-believer can be saved, we are bound by charity to let God do the judging of who goes where.

Bender said...

Do you think you need to believe in Jesus to go to Heaven when you die?

Today, Holy Saturday, that mysterious time after the Crucifixion and before the Resurrection when the body of Jesus lay in the tomb, the Liturgy of the Hours includes this reading, an ancient homily attributed to Epiphanius of Salamis, envisioning how, during this time, Jesus went down the the realm of the dead to bring salvation to those righteous people who lived and died before He was born (and thus never had the opportunity to "believe in Him") --

Something strange is happening – there is a great silence on earth today, a great silence and stillness. The whole earth keeps silence because the King is asleep. The earth trembled and is still because God has fallen asleep in the flesh and he has raised up all who have slept ever since the world began. God has died in the flesh and hell trembles with fear.

He has gone to search for our first parent, as for a lost sheep. Greatly desiring to visit those who live in darkness and in the shadow of death, he has gone to free from sorrow the captives Adam and Eve, he who is both God and the son of Eve. The Lord approached them bearing the cross, the weapon that had won him the victory. At the sight of him Adam, the first man he had created, struck his breast in terror and cried out to everyone: “My Lord be with you all.” Christ answered him: “And with your spirit.” He took him by the hand and raised him up, saying:

“Awake, O sleeper, and rise from the dead, and Christ will give you light. I am your God, who for your sake have become your son. Out of love for you and for your descendants I now by my own authority command all who are held in bondage to come forth, all who are in darkness to be enlightened, all who are sleeping to arise.

"I order you, O sleeper, to awake. I did not create you to be held a prisoner in hell. Rise from the dead, for I am the life of the dead. Rise up, work of my hands, you who were created in my image. Rise, let us leave this place, for you are in me and I am in you; together we form only one person and we cannot be separated. . . .

"I slept on the cross and a sword pierced my side for you who slept in paradise and brought forth Eve from your side. My side has healed the pain in yours. My sleep will rouse you from your sleep in hell. The sword that pierced me has sheathed the sword that was turned against you.

"Rise, let us leave this place. The enemy led you out of the earthly paradise. I will not restore you to that paradise, but I will enthrone you in heaven. I forbade you the tree that was only a symbol of life, but see, I who am life itself am now one with you. I appointed cherubim to guard you as slaves are guarded, but now I make them worship you as God. The throne formed by cherubim awaits you, its bearers swift and eager.

"The bridal chamber is adorned, the banquet is ready, the eternal dwelling places are prepared, the treasure houses of all good things lie open. The kingdom of heaven has been prepared for you from all eternity."

YoungHegelian said...
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YoungHegelian said...

@rhhardin,

Thank you for the Wittgenstein posting!

Since Wittgenstein in all his incarnations ran against my grain as a young man, I never read enough of him to discover what nuggets a conservative Catholic philosopher like G.E.M. Anscombe could mine out of his works to build her faith on.

Well, I've got an example now

Almost Ali said...

Rising from the dead was fairly commonplace during the time.

shiloh said...

"as Right/Left, but rather Up/Down."

Righteous/Self-Righteous

Christian/heathen er heretic er atheist er skeptic er nonbeliver er hypocritical right wing evangelicals.

WWJD?

Praise beJesus! :)

Bender said...

Note also that the idea that you can be a god unto yourself, that you can be your own savior, that you have no real need of God and are capable of being self-actualizing into heaven is the very first error, the very first sin, it is the original sin and such error is ultimately the origin of every other sin committed since then.

Even if you knew "where" heaven was, you do not have the ability to transcend this existence yourself, especially after you are dead.

Heaven being a "place," a state of being of perfection in truth (and love), for one to persist in error, any error but especially the error of self-salvation, is to prevent your very entry into heaven. Error and imperfection cannot exist in a place of truth and perfection.

That error and imperfection must be removed, it must be purged from you, you must be purified before you are capable of uniting with that which is all true and perfect.

If you are incapable of perfection now, you certainly won't be able to do it yourself after you are dead. You need help.

Bender said...

Note also the extent of God's mercies, how many opportunities He gives for people to accept His outstretched arms of love.

The Passover in Egypt was mentioned above. This is a prime example.

God gave Pharaoh chance after chance after chance to do the right thing, to do the good thing, to simply allow people to follow Him.

God did not obliterate Egypt at the first sign of rejection. Rather, He gave Pharaoh a modest rebuke (the first plague) and gave him another chance. And then another, and another, and another.

Ten times God asked Pharoah to let His people go (the number ten has symbolic meaning, it means completeness). God gave Pharoah a complete number of opportunities to turn to truth and justice.

But eventually death comes. Death comes to us all, and when it comes there are no more chances, no more opportunities. God remains ever merciful, but being dead, you no longer have the ability to accept. Your future (your first born) is no more.

You need to accept His love and truth in your heart while there is still time, while you still live, so that death might "pass over" you. And, again, such acceptance of love and truth does not burden us, it frees us from bondage, it allows us to walk out of slavery to freedom and the Promised Land.

leslyn said...

"'You are gods'" Psalms 82:6a, quoting YHWH.

Food for thought, during this Easter/Passover.

Geoff Matthews said...

Who are these people who believe Jesus is the Son of God, but didn't rise from the dead?
Gnostics.

caplight45 said...

Bruce Hayden said...
"What is bothersome to me is that this is being published as late in Holy Week, we head into Easter.
Why would they do this at this precise time?"

So people like me can use it as quotable material in our Easter sermons.

Bender said...

Food for thought --

Early on, Adam and Eve, not satisfied with being mere creatures, ate the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge because they wanted to be like gods themselves. It was this Original Sin that ushered in death -- real death, not merely death of the physical body, but eternal death -- because the very nature of sin is to separate us from God, who is Life itself. Consequently, because He loves us, God sent us His only Son, Jesus Christ, who is the salvation of the world.

The irony of Adam and Eve sinning by wanting to be like gods (which ultimately is the root of every sin that we commit) is that it didn't have to be that way. It did not have to be a sin. The irony is that God Himself wants us to be like gods! (CCC 460)

As St. Athanasius wrote, "The Son of God became man so that we might become God." (De Incarnatione Verbi Dei 54, 3: PG 25, 192B) Likewise, St. Thomas Aquinas wrote, "The only-begotten Son of God, wanting to make us sharers in his divinity, assumed our nature, so that He, made man, might make men gods." (Opusc. 57, 1-4)

The problem is that we (mankind) wanted and want to be gods on our own terms. We want to be gods by our own will, by our own doing. We want our divinity to be self-actualized, without the involvement of He who is already God.

God does want us to be "gods," but He wants us to be gods on His terms, He wants us to be gods by His doing. Not because He is a "jealous God" who can't bear to have competition, but because He is Truth. He is the One and only God, thus, only He can make us like "gods."

For us to be gods on our own, by our own doing (or for us to be our own saviors, to attain salvation all by our own merits) would not be consistent with truth, it would be a lie, it would be contrary to the very idea of God. No, to be true, man can become gods only by the action of the God who is Truth.

We can become gods only by God joining us to Himself, by Him taking us unto Himself in the entirety of our being -- our soul joined to His Spirit, our body joined to His Body -- so that we are in Him and He is in us to such a degree that we truly are a loving communion of persons, no longer separate and apart, but two become one, not merely in a symbolic or poetic sense, but in a very real, authentic and true sense.

"Be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect," Jesus said. Only God is perfect, but by joining fully in communion with Him, in allowing ourselves to be truly sanctified by the Spirit of Sanctification, we can be made perfect as commanded by Jesus. The Lord does not demand the impossible of us, He makes the "impossible" possible. He makes us imperfect humans perfect, He -- and only He -- makes us like gods.

Kirk Parker said...
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Kirk Parker said...

Althouse,

"What's with the 1% who think Jesus was the son of God but did not rise from the dead?"

These are the real Scandinavian pessimists!

:-)


MadMan,

"Whether or not he did, it doesn't detract from his message, in my opinion."

That very much depends on what you think that message actually was. I'm with C.S. Lewis on this point--if he wasn't the Son of God, then that leaves either a crackpot or a con man, and why give that person's message any credibility?


YoungHegelian,

"we are bound ... to let God do the judging of who goes where."

This ^^ a gazallion.

I'm not the least bit shy at advocating for what I think the true positions are (or best approximations we may have to them), but to not have the humility to recognize that there may be some parts of the whole story we don't know is deplorable.

Ralph L said...

I printed up programs for my employer's UCC church this morning, 50 for the Sunrise service in their restored 1839 church & graveyard, 163 for the 11 am in the newer building (several botched from toner stripes). Some of the first sounded a bit like sun-worship, but I do like "Morning has Broken."

This year, they're releasing butterflies in memory of or in honor of people after the main service as a fundraiser for the local foodbank Loaves & Fishes, in addition to the usual Easter lilies. Don't think they're having unicorns or skittles. They kept spelling "lily" with an extra elle.

The Moravians in Winston-Salem have a big sunrise service entirely in their main graveyard between Salem College and downtown.

Joan said...

Kirk Parker responded to MadMan as I would have -- thanks, Kirk.

Rh -- that Wittgenstein is wonderful. Philosophy usually gives me a headache, but maybe I've finally slowed down enough to let it sink in.

And thanks as always to Bender for doing the heavy lifting.

Happy Easter, everyone.

Bender said...

thanks as always to Bender for doing the heavy lifting

I have it on good authority that this Bender guy cheats and has gotten lazy and mostly just cuts and pastes stuff he's written before.

Jim S. said...

Pinchas Lapide, a rare Jewish scholar of the historical Jesus, argued that the evidence demonstrated that Jesus rose bodily from the dead, and that the best explanation is that the God of Israel raised him, but that didn't necessarily validate his claims to be the Messiah.

leslyn said...

@Bender:

I know your theology. However, I believe it a mistake to ignore (which I think you are doing the plain language of the psalm.

Context:

The writer asks god to judge those who judge unjustly:

V.
3&4: "Vindicate the weak and fatherless;
"Do justice the afflicted and destitute.
"Rescue the weak and needy;
"deliver them out of the hand of the wicked."

Dake's Annotated Reference Bible (which is a fun source to dip into) associates verses 3 and 4 with v 6a, "You are gods." A kind of delegated authority, if you will. At least, that's how it seems to me. Still one has to read it as "you are gods," not "like god," or "should be like God."

Here's another one for you: Genesis 3:22, what the godhead said after Adam and Eve were cursed, and then clothed (God made their clothes):

"Then the LORD God said, "Behold, the man has become like one of Us, knowing good and evil; and now, lest he stretch out his hand, and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live forever--" therefore the LORD God sent them out from the garden of Eden...."

What do you make of that? I've never heard a preaching on this, and it seems to me that all views of original sin are simplistic, not taking this verse into account.

Jim S. said...

Something I learned when I began to research the historical Jesus in my mid-20s is that the consensus of scholars agree that certain facts surrounding Jesus' resurrection can be established. Bear in mind these are not "Christian" scholars or "conservative" scholars or whatever. They include atheists, liberals (not in the political sense), etc. In other words, many of them do not believe the resurrection happened, at least as it has been traditionally understood.

1. Jesus was crucified and killed. This is considered one of the central events of world history by all parties.

2. Jesus was buried in a solid rock tomb by Joseph of Arimathea. As was standard, the tomb had a large boulder lodged in the entrance to seal it.

3. Jesus' tomb was found empty a few days later by some of his women followers.

4. Numerous people, both individuals and groups of up to 500 people at once, experienced appearances of Jesus alive from the dead.

5. The earliest Christians believed that Jesus physically, bodily, literally rose from the dead. This belief arose immediately after it allegedly took place in the same place (Jerusalem) it allegedly happened.

A recent survey of the last few decades of historical Jesus studies found that numbers 4 and 5 were almost universally accepted by scholars who wrote on the subject. The same survey reported that number 3 was accepted by 75% of scholars who wrote on it.

Bender said...

I'm not sure what the question is with respect to Psalm 82? Is it one of scriptural interpretation? Whether to read scripture as being strictly literal or does it use other senses and literary conventions as well?

Of course, to properly understand any text, it must be read in the context of the whole, without reading any one portion in isolation. Furthermore, to properly interpret and understand a given passage, one must discern what it is that the human author, as inspired by God, intended to convey and how he intended it to be read --
(a) as literal history, taking the words at face value?
(b) allegory or metaphor?
(c) hyperbole?
(d) moral?
(e) prophetic or anagogical?

Scripture and all of Salvation History are part of a divine pedagogy -- God seeks to reveal and teach things to us. And in doing so, He uses a variety of pedagogical devices. Sometimes He spoon feeds, sometimes He is Socratic, sometimes He uses a dialectical method, stating the converse of what He means in order to demonstrate the error of it.

So let's look at this Psalm 82 --

God rises in the divine council, gives judgment in the midst of the gods.
"How long will you judge unjustly and favor the cause of the wicked? . . . Defend the lowly and fatherless; render justice to the afflicted and needy. Rescue the lowly and poor; deliver them from the hand of the wicked."
The gods neither know nor understand, wandering about in darkness, and all the world's foundations shake.
I declare: "Gods though you be, offspring of the Most High all of you, yet like any mortal you shall die; like any prince you shall fall."


Here God speaks of other gods. But the whole of scripture, and much of Salvation History, was a demonstration that there is One True God.

Reading the psalm in context then, one easily sees that God is being rather facetious here, and perhaps the ancient writer was not familiar with the modern use of "scare quotes."

In that light, we should read this as -- God gives judgment in the midst of the false, so-called "gods," who are, instead, mere creatures ("offspring") of the Most High, i.e. the real and only God. And He charges them with being unjust before exhorting them to instead defend the lowly, etc. He then explains that they are ignorant, walking in darkness, and that "gods" though they claim to be, these frauds are just His offspring, just plain old human beings and, like any human, will die.

Bender said...

As for the usage of "us," referring to God in the plural in Genesis, again we are confronted with ancient writing conventions. And this might be a case of simply utilizing the royal "we," or it might be an early mysterious revelation of the Trinity.

Later on, there is also the visit that Abraham had by "three men," but Abraham repeatedly refers to them in the singular. (Gen. 18)

Bender said...

The earliest Christians believed that Jesus physically, bodily, literally rose from the dead.

Yes, whether one believes that Jesus rose from the dead or not (or whether this "Jesus" fellow even ever existed), this much is undeniable -- soon afterwards, large numbers of people began expressing their belief that it had happened.

These followers of "Chrestus" a/k/a Christ were enough to come to the attention of Roman historians Suetonius and Tacitus, not to mention being the scapegoats designated by Nero after he burned a large section of Rome in the Great Fire (followed by Nero's persecution resulting in the martyrdom of many, including Peter and Paul, whose tombs one can visit today).

rsb said...

Very disturbing poll results.

cassandra lite said...

He was a nice Jewish boy from a good family.

leslyn said...

@Bender:

What version are you using? Looked into the kIng Jamesand New American Standard. V 6 doesn't sound anything like yours.

As for Genesis, I think "Us" is a reference to the Trinity. Same as in Gen 1:26, 27. No problem there. The Old Testament has at least two references to god: the LORD God (who spoke to Moses, for example), and the Spirit of God, who seems to be female.

My issue is with the rest of the verse: "like ....Us, knowing good and evil," and "lest he...live forever." (I think it is implied, "like Us.")

Perhaps your version has more to say about this.

Bender said...

The psalm quote is from North American Bible, but let's go over to Bible Gateway --

New International Version does have gods in quotes ("gods").

NIV, New American Standard, and Douay-Rheims 1899 are essentially "I said, ‘You are gods; you are all sons of the Most High.’" v.6 (KJ has "children," not "sons")

The Genesis quote seems to be less of God saying, "this is what I'm going to do about it" and more an observation of established fact about the consequences of the man and the woman having broken the relationship with Him (which again gets into ancient writing conventions).

Once the man and the woman had decided to set themselves against what God had said, right there was a separation. God being Truth ("I am"), once they manifested through action their belief that they could decide for themselves what truth is, what right and wrong are, rather than simply looking to He who is Truth, then they set themselves apart from Truth. And God being Life, they set themselves apart from Life.

At that moment, the man and the woman being in a state of "sin," the Garden was no longer a paradise, it was no longer a place of complete truth and goodness.

They could not stay in the "paradise" because it no longer was one. So, they had to "leave." They essentially kicked themselves out; having severed their relationship with He who is Life, they essentially disallowed themselves from "eating of the Tree of Life," even if the text attributes these actions to God.

This "sin" severed the relationship between mankind and God, who is Love and Truth, and so corrupted human nature that our ability to love and to reason and discern good from evil is impaired. Before the loss of his “original innocence,” man could see – truly see. He could see God, truth, and love.

But after sin, which is an offense against truth and genuine love for God and neighbor, man’s sight is impaired, his hearing is distorted. While hiding in the bushes, vainly seeking to hide from God, instead of being able to see Him clearly, the man now saw only leaves and branches. His ability to see God, to know God, to know love and truth, was grievously impaired. Loss of original innocence necessarily means that man can no longer live in the Garden of innocence and truth.

By sin entering into the world, our entire human nature is wounded, corrupted, and compromised, our souls are tainted. Our judgment is clouded, our ability to reason is impaired, and the influences and temptations of the world overwhelm us, plunging us into darkness and error and slavery to further sin.

Bender said...

The account of the Fall in Genesis not only shows how sin affects the sinner, it demonstrates how sin is intensely social. Indeed, this Original Sin did not affect merely Adam and Eve, but has affected and infected us all, it has left a stain on our being. All sin, both original and individual, affects and injures not only the sinner, but all of us. Sin severs and poisons all relations. After eating the fruit of the Tree, Adam not only foolishly tries to hide from God, but the first thing he does when confronted is to blame Eve. What directly follows is Cain’s murder of Abel.

The book of Genesis informs us that man used his freedom, not to embrace love and truth, but to turn away from love and truth, thereby corrupting our human nature. As a result of this sin of believing that you are equal to or above God, of believing that you can create your own truth, your own idea of right and wrong, good and evil, the proper relationship between mankind and God was and is severed. In opposing God, who is Life, man necessarily brings death upon himself.

The result of Original Sin is that a wide gulf of separation between God and humanity was created, a separation between man and love, truth, and life. The gulf of separation between God and humanity is so great that man is incapable of crossing it on his own. To be sure, following the Fall and expulsion of man from the Garden, mankind even began to lose knowledge of God. Mankind began to adopt all sorts of false ideas, like polytheism and human sacrifice.

And not only are proper relationships between mankind and God severed, but, as we see with Adam turning against Eve, and Cain killing Abel, proper relationships between human beings themselves are estranged, so that, instead of living a life of love and truth toward others, mankind has lived a life of selfish self-gratification and exploitation of others; instead of harmony, there is discord.

More here.

Bender said...

Not to hog up the combox even more, but the best description of Original Sin I've read is here, starting about half-way down, for which I'll provide an excerpt that is too long for here, but not nearly long enough to get the full benefit from it --

What picture does this passage show us? The human being does not trust God. Tempted by the serpent, he harbours the suspicion that in the end, God takes something away from his life, that God is a rival who curtails our freedom and that we will be fully human only when we have cast him aside; in brief, that only in this way can we fully achieve our freedom. . . . He does not want to rely on love that to him seems untrustworthy; he relies solely on his own knowledge since it confers power upon him. Rather than on love, he sets his sights on power, with which he desires to take his own life autonomously in hand. And in doing so, he trusts in deceit rather than in truth and thereby sinks with his life into emptiness, into death. . . .

If we live in opposition to love and against the truth - in opposition to God - then we destroy one another and destroy the world. Then we do not find life but act in the interests of death. . . .

We call this drop of poison "original sin" . . . we have a lurking suspicion that a person who does not sin must really be basically boring and that something is missing from his life: the dramatic dimension of being autonomous; that the freedom to say no, to descend into the shadows of sin and to want to do things on one's own is part of being truly human; that only then can we make the most of all the vastness and depth of our being men and women, of being truly ourselves; that we should put this freedom to the test, even in opposition to God, in order to become, in reality, fully ourselves.

In a word, we think that evil is basically good, we think that we need it, at least a little, in order to experience the fullness of being. . . . We think that a little bargaining with evil, keeping for oneself a little freedom against God, is basically a good thing, perhaps even necessary.

If we look, however, at the world that surrounds us we can see that this is not so; in other words, that evil is always poisonous, does not uplift human beings but degrades and humiliates them. It does not make them any the greater, purer or wealthier, but harms and belittles them.

leslyn said...

Sorry Bender, call me dumb, but I'm still fascinated by "like one of Us, knowing good AND evil." Emphasis added.

el polacko said...

based on this comment thread, i would estimate that 98% of people are nuts.

Bender said...

Oh, sorry, I guess I don't really understand the question then. One of the drawbacks of conversing through a combox rather than in person.

In any event, have a good Easter and may the Lord favor you and all here with all His blessings.

leslyn said...

Thank you, and back atcha.

Easter is my favorite day of the year. The world begins anew.

Bender said...

Do you think you need to believe in Jesus to go to Heaven when you die?
Depends on what one means by "believe." . . . So, what is important that you "know" Jesus and "believe" in your heart, i.e., you have a sincere thirst for love and hunger for truth in your heart. (4/7/2012, 11:16 a.m.)


But what about the necessity of baptism, Bender??

Good point. I should have mentioned it above. I've posted a revised answer here.

What I should have said is something more along the lines of --

Depends on what one means by "believe."

Is it necessary to believe intellectually, with one's mind, to have an affirmative knowledge that you believe?

Well, intellectual belief certainly helps. For one thing, the intellectual believer will presumably then go and be baptized, which provides the grace of not only redeeming one from Original Sin, which is absolutely necessary for salvation, but it provides other graces as well to grow in the faith and grow closer to the Lord, if only one accepts those graces in the heart.

However, Jesus says that it is not necessarily the case that the intellectual believer will be automatically saved, that there are many who fed Him even without realizing they were doing so. (Mt. 25:34-40) Meanwhile, Jesus also says that there are plenty who proclaim, "Lord, Lord," to whom He will say "I don't know you because you never really took me into your heart." (cf. Mt. 7:21-23) And Paul notes that the people of Athens worship God unknowingly with their altar to an unknown God. (Acts 17:22-23)

So, what is important that you "know" Jesus and "believe" in your heart, i.e., you have a sincere thirst for love and hunger for truth in your heart. That is enough to be "blessed" (Mt. 5:3-10), to at least open the door to possible salvation, even if you do not intellectually realize that you know Jesus in your heart, for the God of Divine Mercy seeks to save, not to condemn, so He will help you the rest of the way. God is not bound by the requirement of sacramental baptism by water, He is perfectly free to provide the effects of baptism by alternate means. (For example, neither Mary nor Joseph nor any of the righteous people of the Old Testament ever received sacramental baptism by water, but the Church recognizes them to be in heaven.)

At the same time, this "belief in the heart" is made more difficult if one intellectually affirmatively rejects Jesus and/or God and/or everything about Him. And sincere belief in the heart is -- or at least should be -- easier if one intellectually believes. . . .

__________________

May the Lord bless you all and fill you with Light on this new day of Creation.

leslyn said...

@Bender-

"...[I]f you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you shall be saved." Romans 10:9; in v.8 quoting Deut. 30:14 ("The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart") in support.

I've alway liked this simple statement. It is my r/Rock, and a "light unto my path."

leslyn said...

"Preach the gospel constantly, but speak only when necessary." Aaron Rodgers

clint said...

Polls are *so* easy to misunderstand.

If you asked me whether Thor, God of Thunder, fights with a sword or a hammer, I would proudly demonstrate my knowledge of pagan religions by telling you he fights with a hammer called Mjolnir. Not only would I agree that "I believe Thor fights with a hammer." I would go so far as to say that I *know* it. But I don't believe in Thor.

Half of non-Christians correctly identified Jesus as the (mythical, from their perspective) son of God who rose from the dead. That doesn't make them believers -- it means they know a bit about Christian belief.