Cultural history and the sword in Matthew 10 verse 34

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Cultural history and the sword in Matthew 10 verse 34

Postby kudayta on April 30th, 2010, 8:24 pm 

Victor wrote:If you would like to compare ancient Israeli culture with modern culture, you are welcome to make that invalid comparison. If you would like to compare ancient Israeli culture with surrounding cultures of the time, you will find that they held themselves to higher standards. Now, if you want to instead compare the version of law and morality left over after Jesus shook things up, I think you will have to completely reform your point — you might not even be left with a point at all!


Mods, you might want to split this discussion off.

Ancient Israeli and Judah cultures were not any more or less morally advanced than their neighbors. They even fought wars with each other. They weren't scientifically more advanced than their neighbors. The Greeks were measuring the circumference of the Earth while they still believed the Earth to be flat in Judah and Israel.

And after Jesus shook things up, well let's see. What did Jesus say about slavery? Abortion? Washing your hands before dinner? Peace on Earth?
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Re: Faith and Irrationality–are they inseparable?

Postby Victor on April 30th, 2010, 10:35 pm 

Heading out now, but do you think the sword in Matthew 10:34 is a physical one that kills people?
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Re: Faith and Irrationality–are they inseparable?

Postby kudayta on April 30th, 2010, 11:47 pm 

It doesn't matter what the sword is supposed to metaphorically represent in this passage (for what it's worth, it reads to me as it metaphorically represents war). Within the context of the chapter, the passage indicates that Jesus wants to spread mayhem and chaos, as opposed to peace, in the name of spreading Christianity. This is the kind of speech an officer would give to his soldiers on the eve of a battle.

Even if we were to treat this passage generously (from a modern Christian's point of view), it would still indicate that Jesus is declaring that he intends to divide the world, even within families, between Christians and non-Christians. It is not, in any sense of the word, a peaceful declaration.

King James Version of the Bible, Matthew 10:31-42 wrote: 31Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.
32Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven.
33But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.
34Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.
35For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.
36And a man's foes shall be they of his own household.
37He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.
38And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.
39He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.
40He that receiveth you receiveth me, and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me.
41He that receiveth a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet's reward; and he that receiveth a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man's reward.
42And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward.
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Re: Faith and Irrationality–are they inseparable?

Postby Sisyphus on May 1st, 2010, 9:19 am 

Victor wrote:If you would like to compare ancient Israeli culture with modern culture, you are welcome to make that invalid comparison. If you would like to compare ancient Israeli culture with surrounding cultures of the time, you will find that they held themselves to higher standards. Now, if you want to instead compare the version of law and morality left over after Jesus shook things up, I think you will have to completely reform your point — you might not even be left with a point at all!

You're the one who brought up the notion of the Bible being a basis of morality, so you tell me what you meant. I'm not a mind reader.
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Re: Cultural history and the sword in Matthew 10 verse 34

Postby Marshall on May 2nd, 2010, 12:07 am 

I want to give this discussion every chance to go somewhere. I'm not sure what it is about.
This series of posts was buried in a longer thread about something else and it was suggested by someone in the discussion that it be moved out---split off to form its own thread.

Please anybody who thinks they see a good opportunity like that, let me know. Write a PM, or use the "report" button and explain in the box what your idea is. The "report" button is the triangle with exclamation mark. It is not necessarily only for BAD things :-D. It could be for when something is getting off topic and needs to be split off to a separate thread.

Paul Tillich the Theologian defined religion as ultimate concern. He didn't specify it should be about God or about salvation or supernatural beliefs or anything. He said it is your ultimate concern.

Probably that definition isn't entirely workable, at least not taken out of the context of Tillich's multivolume work on Systematic Theology. But it's an idea.

Jesus was a great religious teacher and he recognized up front the fierceness of religious attitudes/feelings/responses/opinions.

We don't know what Jesus actually said. We don't know if Matthew got the quote right. He probably never met Jesus and was relying on hearsay/folklore. Maybe some extra stuff got added. But suppose Jesus really said something about "bringing the sword".

Have to go. Isnt Matthew 10 34 about fierceness?

Like, arguments in families? Where just as Tillich said, there is fierceness about ultimate concerns.
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Re: Cultural history and the sword in Matthew 10 verse 34

Postby kudayta on May 2nd, 2010, 2:14 am 

Well, what spurred this outcropping of a discussion on for me was the assertion:

Victor wrote:...Excluding the Bible, which I think provides a most excellent basis of morality that, unfortunately, almost nobody follows very well at all, despite their claims to the contrary. I have some excellent points on this that I could post in another thread; it would be off-topic for this one.


It's my contention that the Bible reflects Bronze and Iron Age thinking on the subject and is not applicable in this day and age. You're right, Marshall, to insist that religious ideologies and emotions are particularly fierce. However, this trait has lead to centuries of organized warfare, oppression and general misery. Jesus says nothing about this in the Bible, he says nothing to discourage the divisiveness that religion can cause. This is just one example of how the Bible is not a "most excellent basis of morality".
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Re: Cultural history and the sword in Matthew 10 verse 34

Postby nventr on May 2nd, 2010, 2:14 pm 

kudayta wrote:It's my contention that the Bible reflects Bronze and Iron Age thinking on the subject and is not applicable in this day and age. You're right, Marshall, to insist that religious ideologies and emotions are particularly fierce. However, this trait has lead to centuries of organized warfare, oppression and general misery. Jesus says nothing about this in the Bible, he says nothing to discourage the divisiveness that religion can cause. This is just one example of how the Bible is not a "most excellent basis of morality".


This is the trouble with human language and metaphor. There is no way to determine if the person is speaking in physical concrete terms or if they are speaking about inner consciousness.

The inner and outer realms do Mirror each other. They have the same characteristics but application of the principles in each realm are vastly different. It's like Leonardo Di Vinci's writing. It is just a backwards mess until you hold it up to a mirror. I liken it to the difference between physical physics and quantum physics.

IMO, Jesus is speaking about the inner consciousness in these passages. The reason Jesus says nothing about the outer turmoil such ideas can cause is because this passage was never meant in that context. Just as Mohammed never meant the idea of Jihad to mean physically attacking another town or country. Both of these ideas were meant for a person to kill the ego that resides within themselves. Attack, cut down, or kill the attitudes and wrong thinking that keep one from experiencing contentment and awe, which eventually leads to caring and compassion. This is a very typical warrior cult idea. The Mithras cult held these very same premises. This is a good thing for those who need an attitude adjustment.

Those who are saturated with ego and do not kill this nasty attitude become the cold heartless killers of infamous fame. Hitler being the poster boy for what is commonly known as the antichrist.

However, not everyone is burdened by ego. There are those who are by nature already warm, giving and caring. To use the sword on or rape these types kills that giving spirit and turns them into Medusas or Pele the raging lava spewing volcano goddess. This is the result of too much of a good thing. These fiery types need structure and purpose. When fire is used for a purpose like cooking food or forging steel it is good. When fire is out of control like a raging wildfire, it can only create destruction of great magnitude.


These are the types of problems that occur when the rules and/or principles of inner consciousness are used in the physical realm.

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Re: Cultural history and the sword in Matthew 10 verse 34

Postby kudayta on May 2nd, 2010, 11:58 pm 

nventr wrote:This is the trouble with human language and metaphor. There is no way to determine if the person is speaking in physical concrete terms or if they are speaking about inner consciousness


Well, if that's the case, then there's absolutely no way we can say that the Bible is a "most excellent basis of morality". If there's no way to determine if people are speaking in concrete terms or inner consciousness without a clear preamble, then there's no way we can properly interpret the messages.
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Re: Cultural history and the sword in Matthew 10 verse 34

Postby Victor on May 3rd, 2010, 3:28 am 

Some of this post should probably be moved here...
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Re: Cultural history and the sword in Matthew 10 verse 34

Postby kudayta on May 3rd, 2010, 3:53 am 

Yeah, that post should be moved in here. I will note two things before it is though: 1) Victor has focused extensively on the sword from Matthew 10:34 and has said nothing about the important part of the passage, that Jesus states explicitly in this passage that he is not coming to bring peace on Earth. 2) The Bible states nowhere, and Jesus says nothing anywhere about condemning slavery as a crime against humanity. Instead he has fallen back and claims that the Israelites treated their slaves better than anyone else in their region. As if that somehow makes it better.

The Bible is in no way an excellent basis for morality without explicit calls for peace on Earth and condemnation of the practice of slavery.
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Re: Cultural history and the sword in Matthew 10 verse 34

Postby Victor on May 3rd, 2010, 3:59 am 

Here's the part of that post that has to do with the sword.
kudayta wrote:Peace on Earth?
Matthew 10:34 wrote:“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.
Where did Jesus use a physical sword on anyone? Oh wait, he healed a sword wound. Jesus' sword was the word of God, sharper than any [physical] two-edged sword. Jesus' sword comes out of his mouth — that is, it is spoken. This was the sword Jesus spoke of — scripture attests to it. The WBC folks are taking one scripture and running with it, and falling flat on their faces. Jesus spoke against physical swords.
  1. Focusing just on verse 34 of Matthew 10 ignores the context, unless you want to claim that Jesus meant for sons to kill their fathers. I should think I wouldn't need to bring up all the scripture that would demonstrate this idea to be retarded, but one might object with Luke 14:26, where Jesus said to "hate" one's family (and oneself). Crap, the word for hate is used in Matt 5:43, where Jesus says not to hate one's enemy! What oh what shall we do? Why, look at the other uses of "hate", and find Matt 6:24, which says that as soon as you love one master, you will hate the other. By looking at context, we can see that Jesus was using "hate" to drive a point home: you are either following Jesus, or something/someone else. There's no "both".
  2. There are two Greek words translated as "sword" in the NT: machaira, a "small sword", and romfaia, a "large sword". The latter is only used of the sword which extends from Jesus' mouth. You have heard "the pen is mightier than the sword"; the word from Jesus' mouth is the ultimate source of ideas. Machaira is used to describe two kinds of sword: A) the physical, and B) the spiritual. I should think it would be clear which one Jesus meant in Luke 22:36, but one might object. How do we really know whether to choose A or B? We look for more context. Hebrews 4:12 is a good start, as it talks about something sharper than any double-edged sword: the "word of God". Oh interesting, one might say this indicates that the word of God, indicated by our "large sword", is greater than the "small sword". More directly, look at 2 Corinthians 10:4: "the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh".
  3. If Jesus wanted his disciples to use their physical swords, why would he condemn the only recorded instance where they do use physical swords?
Jesus was speaking about dividing between good and evil:
Ephesians 6:12 wrote:For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
Should we not attack evil? (I distinguish between people who do evil things, and evil actions and thoughts.)


My Biblical justification of a 100% "slavery is wrong" comes from generalizing Jesus' statement on adultery:
Matthew 19:8 wrote:He said to them, "Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so.
Slavery was not "from the beginning" either. Some would claim it is due to the Curse of Ham, described in Genesis 9:20-27. I present the Book of Philemon as an example of abolishing slavery in the NT. God has freed us from slavery through Jesus – why do we not do the same to others? Indeed, I think the Parable of the Wicked Servant argues this. If we cannot have "mercy on [our] fellow servant", why will we get mercy? See James 2:13: Judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy.
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Re: Cultural history and the sword in Matthew 10 verse 34

Postby kudayta on May 3rd, 2010, 4:07 am 

Neither the Parable of the Wicked Servant or Paul's Plea for Onesimus tackle the issue of slavery. Both of them implicitly regard slavery as something commonplace; the natural order of things.
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Re: Cultural history and the sword in Matthew 10 verse 34

Postby Victor on May 3rd, 2010, 4:12 am 

My point is that God did not plan on slavery existing from the beginning; it was a curse for sin. Since Jesus' coming, I believe we have an opportunity to start reversing the brokenness caused by sin.

Hmmm, perhaps the best argument against slavery is:
Romans 2:11 wrote:For God shows no partiality.
Slavery shows partiality, does it not?
Matthew 5:48 wrote:You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
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Re: Cultural history and the sword in Matthew 10 verse 34

Postby kudayta on May 3rd, 2010, 4:17 am 

No, Romans 2:11 and Matthew 5:48 don't cut it either. What's necessary is an explicit condemnation of slavery, and all we've got in the Bible is implicit acceptance of it. You can twist the words around, you can make creative interpretations, you can flat out ignore me, but the fact remains is that the Bible does not explicitly condemn slavery. And as such, it is not in any sense an excellent basis for morality.
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Re: Cultural history and the sword in Matthew 10 verse 34

Postby Victor on May 3rd, 2010, 4:18 am 

It probably does flat out condemn a lot of horrible things. If it did condemn slavery, you'd find something else.
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Re: Cultural history and the sword in Matthew 10 verse 34

Postby kudayta on May 3rd, 2010, 4:19 am 

And wait a minute, the God of the Bible didn't plan for something? The same God of the Bible that's supposed to be omnipotent and omniscient?

And yes, the slavery issue is just one of many areas in which the Bible differs from modern secular morality. I expect we'll be getting to the rest of them in short order.
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Re: Cultural history and the sword in Matthew 10 verse 34

Postby Victor on May 3rd, 2010, 4:25 am 

I'm really not interested in playing whack-a-mole. The Bible sets forth fundamental presuppositions and then some illustrations of how to use them to build ideas. It doesn't cover every single situation because it doesn't need to. It just needs to give us enough raw material that would be too hard/painful to derive on our own.
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Re: Cultural history and the sword in Matthew 10 verse 34

Postby kudayta on May 3rd, 2010, 4:28 am 

Victor wrote:It doesn't cover every single situation because it doesn't need to.


Yes it does, especially if you're going to claim that it is a "most excellent basis for morality" and then go on to implicitly accept slavery in everyday life and state things like "I have not come to bring peace." Those two examples are particularly egregious to the modern mind.
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Re: Cultural history and the sword in Matthew 10 verse 34

Postby Victor on May 3rd, 2010, 4:40 am 

How are you going to get peace if there are people who refuse to believe you on issues that you think are really important?
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Re: Cultural history and the sword in Matthew 10 verse 34

Postby kudayta on May 3rd, 2010, 4:48 am 

Victor wrote:How are you going to get peace if there are people who refuse to believe you on issues that you think are really important?


Amazing. Have you really forgotten that non-violent resistance has been the most effective way of achieving change throughout history? It's no wonder that some Christians have murdered doctors in this country.
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Re: Cultural history and the sword in Matthew 10 verse 34

Postby Victor on May 3rd, 2010, 5:22 am 

You really have resisted the idea of the sword being a spiritual one, even though I thoroughly argued for that, haven't you? Here's another that might drive the point home:
2 Corinthians 10:2-5a wrote:For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God,
This can easily be seen as peaceful argument of ideas. Why else would Jesus say, "turn the other cheek", etc.?
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Re: Cultural history and the sword in Matthew 10 verse 34

Postby kudayta on May 3rd, 2010, 5:34 am 

It's not the sword in the passage that I care about. It's this part:

Matthew 10:34, abridged wrote:Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace...


Like I said earlier, you can come up with all sorts of creative interpretations, but it doesn't detract from the fact that Jesus was not in favor of bring peace to Earth, as stated in the synoptic Gospels.

The problem I've got with the good stuff in the Bible, like Matthew 5:38-42, is that it directly contradicts the bad stuff. Now, if you want to ignore the bad stuff that Jesus said, great (Jefferson did that, he was a pretty sharp dude). If you want to interpret the bad stuff so that it's good stuff though, that's just being intellectually dishonest.
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Re: Cultural history and the sword in Matthew 10 verse 34

Postby kudayta on May 3rd, 2010, 5:39 am 

I should clarify, Matthew 5:38-42 is good stuff, but it's not precise enough to be a basis of behavior. If you continue that line of thinking to its logical conclusion, you'd end up with a lot of dead people and one despot. A better way to handle conflict can be found in the iterated prisoner's dilemma game.
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Re: Cultural history and the sword in Matthew 10 verse 34

Postby Victor on May 3rd, 2010, 5:52 am 

Why doesn't it make sense to see Christians as peacefully attacking ideas with their servant-like, Christ-like behavior? I read Matthew 10:34 more as Jesus saying that he's not going to just magically make everyone agree. For people to agree, they must deny themselves, take up their cross, and follow him. Not everyone is going to make this hard, sacrificial choice. There is going to be a war of ideas until every tongue confesses that Jesus is Lord.
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Re: Cultural history and the sword in Matthew 10 verse 34

Postby kudayta on May 3rd, 2010, 5:59 am 

Victor wrote:Why doesn't it make sense to see Christians as peacefully attacking ideas with their servant-like, Christ-like behavior?


Because it's doublespeak. And, looked at through the lens of history, Christians didn't start behaving peacefully until after the Enlightenment, until after the development of humanism.
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Re: Cultural history and the sword in Matthew 10 verse 34

Postby chaoticcomplexity on May 3rd, 2010, 6:00 am 

kudayta wrote:It doesn't matter what the sword is supposed to metaphorically represent in this passage (for what it's worth, it reads to me as it metaphorically represents war). Within the context of the chapter, the passage indicates that Jesus wants to spread mayhem and chaos, as opposed to peace, in the name of spreading Christianity. This is the kind of speech an officer would give to his soldiers on the eve of a battle.


It does matter Kudayta. The sword referred to isn't a material thing nor it will lead to mayhem and chaos if one would truly follow what it means. If you lose sight of the context, all you will see are contradictions so that where the parts articulate become muddy to your point of view. What mayhem and chaos are you trying to say specifically? War in the literal sense? What?

If one loves his brother or any whatsoever more than anything in the world, it is possible to do all that his heart wishes (wicked or not) upon the loss of his brother due to the action of someone else. The word of God put a constraint to that - above all else love the word of God, seek God's Kingdom first. To be ruled by God is to follow such words for example:

Matthew 18:21-22, Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.”


or

Lk. 6:27-36 But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who ill-treat you. If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you.
..then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High....Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.


Yes, Kudayta...this is a consequence of the sword referred to in the Bible. The war isn't about blood spill for:

Ephesians 6:12 For our struggles is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.


Yes, Kudayta, this isn't the kind of war that spills blood. This is the war that promotes love and understanding to those who follow them (and irritation to those whose heart loves this kind of feeling, because some of them love wrongdoings).

On these grounds, your words themselves attest to your not following the Biblical context. What is the context of Matthew 10:31-42?

Even if we were to treat this passage generously (from a modern Christian's point of view), it would still indicate that Jesus is declaring that he intends to divide the world, even within families, between Christians and non-Christians. It is not, in any sense of the word, a peaceful declaration.


Of course it is not a peaceful declaration, but in what context? About what specifically? Are you taking the Biblical context properly?
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Re: Cultural history and the sword in Matthew 10 verse 34

Postby kudayta on May 3rd, 2010, 6:05 am 

chaoticcomplexity wrote:It does matter Kudayta.


No, it really doesn't. I'm interested in the first part of the passage.

chaoticcomplexity wrote:Of course it is not a peaceful declaration...


That's all you really needed to say, thanks.
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Re: Cultural history and the sword in Matthew 10 verse 34

Postby chaoticcomplexity on May 3rd, 2010, 6:06 am 

kudayta wrote:
chaoticcomplexity wrote:It does matter Kudayta.


No, it really doesn't. I'm interested in the first part of the passage.

chaoticcomplexity wrote:Of course it is not a peaceful declaration...


That's all you really needed to say, thanks.


And that's how narrow you have considered all these things, Kudayta. By your arguments you imply that words have fixed meaning regardless of how they are used in context. I think that is not very logical nor close to what can actually be observed.
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Re: Cultural history and the sword in Matthew 10 verse 34

Postby kudayta on May 3rd, 2010, 6:18 am 

Well if it's narrow to disregard your preaching chaoticcomplexity, then I'm guilty as charged. I'm interested in the claim that the Bible is "a most excellent basis for morality". And the passages I've highlighted form a compelling counterargument, despite your creative interpretations.
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Re: Cultural history and the sword in Matthew 10 verse 34

Postby chaoticcomplexity on May 3rd, 2010, 6:28 am 

kudayta wrote:Well if it's narrow to disregard your preaching chaoticcomplexity, then I'm guilty as charged. I'm interested in the claim that the Bible is "a most excellent basis for morality". And the passages I've highlighted form a compelling counterargument, despite your creative interpretations.


Well in my point of view I am not preaching, I am saying to you that your are taking the verse out of context. Creative or not Kudayta, that isn't the question. The question is: what is the meaning of that passage, and if it ever has a meaning what is the content and what is the context. To be ruled by God (Kingdom of God) is to look at one direction and to fight for it and to declare war to those against it, and this is the direction Kudayta: Love one another (of course in the Biblical sense). How can a man of God be at war: take all the bullets...sacrifice yourself for your friend and never fight back until you touch the conscience of those who persecute you. This is the war, Kudayta. This is how to hold that sword.
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