If Pentecost happened today...
#1
Friends,

Imagine you're an average pagan walking in a large foreign city. A criminal whose name is known to you was recently executed for many reasons, including sedition. You have heard of strange events and miraculous healing associated with him, but never saw these yourself.

As you pass by a large home, a man comes out surrounded by about 100 people, and says that the criminal who died by lethal injection - or electrocution, or hanging - opened His own mortuary and walked out very much alive, and even transformed. You see no signs, miracles, or wondrous things. You do not even see the criminal himself. You only hear this claim about him.

There are no books about him, no public culture built up around him, and no developed idea of what has really occurred. All you know is that this group of about 100 people claim to have started to see him again, beginning more than two months ago. They waited all this time to say anything. How do you react, in all honesty?

When I personally consider the resurrection-claims, it all comes down to the credibility of the Apostles. "Empty Tomb"s, "Swoon"s, and other arguments are mere sophistry. Can you put yourself in the sandals of a random person standing before Peter on Pentecost? Any claims of miracles are just claims, as much as the claims of resurrection.  What on Earth would make you believe him?
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#2
Probably all the miracles. The scriptures and the lives of the saints are loaded with the miraculous. Todays modern attitude is to say they are all just primitive embellishments and superstitions but i doubt it. Only serious miracles could have converted so many. Modern man might be swayed by cerebral philosophical arguments in favor of the resurrection but i don't think our ancestors would have been. Something magical happened at pentecost.
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#3
(11-11-2014, 09:24 PM)formerbuddhist Wrote: Probably all the miracles. The scriptures and the lives of the saints are loaded with the miraculous. Todays modern attitude is to say they are all just primitive embellishments and superstitions but i doubt it. Only serious miracles could have converted so many. Modern man might be swayed by cerebral philosophical arguments in favor of the resurrection but i don't think our ancestors would have been. Something magical happened at pentecost.

Thanks formerbuddhist.

Two things have bothered me about this for a long time:

1. How do we know the Apostles actually existed? They don't talk about themselves in the actual New Testament all that much. Outside the Scriptures and Tradition, are there any references to the Apostles and their fates by people other than Church writers? It means a lot, because almost every proof of the Resurrection I've heard depends on the faithful witness of the Apostles, even unto death. If they never actually died for this Gospel, would you still believe their message? If we had absolutely no evidence for their martyrdom, where else would we look?

2. I never witnessed any miracles. No one I know has ever witnessed any miracles. Who cares if all the signs and wonders of the old days were embellishments, deceptions, or explanations of natural events? At least something actually happened that needed an explanation. Today it seems very much different. The blind don't see when Catholics come around. The lame don't walk when priests pray for them. Perhaps the way in which God generates faith has changed since Apostolic Days. It just doesn't make sense to me, however, that Miracles were the way to confirm the truth of the Gospel back then... but not now.

Sometimes I wonder if I'm just engaging in Intellectual Curiosity. I dunno.
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#4
I don't think we should downplay the role of the resurrection in being a confirmation—the ultimate confirmation—of Jesus' claims, though of course its much more than that. And of course, that this is a falsifiable event is quite significant: He's risen in the flesh, not only in a spiritual or allegorical way. That's why Tertullian said credo quia absurdum: because the thing is so strange (a God that incarnates, dies and rises in the flesh for some) that the witness must be crazy to defend it if they were to invent it.
For the Apostles the resurrection was not the object of faith, just like if you are a leper and you are cured, you don't have faith that you were cured. You have faith in Whoever cured you. That's quite different. Likewise the event of the resurrection is not to be believed, but to just be seen. It gets more distant from us, it seems, but I don't think its that unreachable as a historical fact, and its replayed in the trustworthiness of the witnesses: the saints, of course.

What is the alternative to Apostles? The thing, even if false, had to have a beginning, so I don't see the point in doubting the Apostles existed. Regarding the persecution, it lasted two centuries. That's four VII Councils so far: if we are tired of a half of a century of VII, imagine two centuries of real persecution (and of course, it wasn't all good in the third century; heck, even Augustine complains that the Roman elite is pagan and his status will suffer by converting).
Also, back at the time the oral tradition was quite strong still, and the Christians were still some weird group. So its not really surprising that we don't find some Roman Senator writing about the Apostles.

The martyrs, come on, they were not nasty people, they had nothing to gain from it (differently from the mohammedans, who were very much concerned with conquest from day one), there was no marketing companies back then (are we to believe they invented a couple of thousand of years earlier all techniques of marketing, and it all went extremely well that it lasts thousand of years), etc.

I think the role of miracles are more to confirm some revelation than to infuse faith, though it works that way too. Many people have noticed that pockets of miracles happened only three times: in the time of Moses, in the time of Elijah—to confirm the prophets, and in the time of Jesus.

Really, the only thing that shakes my faith in the witnesses is that its too good to be true. But that's related to my lack of faith in the person of God Himself; I still think sometimes of God as hating me, etc., so that suspicion is more reasonable than belief. Which isn't the case a priori, and it isn't the case in particular with Christianity.

Pentecost was impressive, indeed. And according to S. Paul Jesus appeared to more than five hundred, not one hundred. But I think the Holy Spirit is supposed to be impressive. Just like its impressive that the barbarians were converted
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#5
Pentecost was a miracle though; everyone could understand the apostles but spoke different languages. This is why I think it's dumb to downplay miracles. It's one thing if these men were preaching something that sounds insane; it's another thing if they have real miracles to back them up. Think about Elias and the Israelites. Because he could call down fire from heaven the Iraelites abandoned paganism once they fell into it. Even at Fatima the miracle of the sun was performed so that "people may believe". I think the antichrist will be a trial to separate the wheat from the chaff, because he too will do things that  appear miraculous. Only those truly confirmed in the faith will reject his perverted doctrine. The lukewarm will believe him.

Christianity is a faith that simply couldn't exist without Jesus or the apostles. It is based on historical events; not a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. No Jesus = no apostles. No apostles = no clergy. No clergy = no sacraments. We have a problem. When exactly, and why, did the Church come into being? In other religions the word of god comes to people through messengers who point to it. Islam could just as well come into being if prophet Abu spoke it instead of Mohammed. In Christianity the Word of God became a person and pointed directly to Himself. No Jesus = no Christianity.
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#6
(11-11-2014, 10:38 PM)Heorot Wrote:
(11-11-2014, 09:24 PM)formerbuddhist Wrote: Probably all the miracles. The scriptures and the lives of the saints are loaded with the miraculous. Todays modern attitude is to say they are all just primitive embellishments and superstitions but i doubt it. Only serious miracles could have converted so many. Modern man might be swayed by cerebral philosophical arguments in favor of the resurrection but i don't think our ancestors would have been. Something magical happened at pentecost.

1. How do we know the Apostles actually existed? They don't talk about themselves in the actual New Testament all that much. Outside the Scriptures and Tradition, are there any references to the Apostles and their fates by people other than Church writers? It means a lot, because almost every proof of the Resurrection I've heard depends on the faithful witness of the Apostles, even unto death. If they never actually died for this Gospel, would you still believe their message? If we had absolutely no evidence for their martyrdom, where else would we look?

2. I never witnessed any miracles. No one I know has ever witnessed any miracles. Who cares if all the signs and wonders of the old days were embellishments, deceptions, or explanations of natural events? At least something actually happened that needed an explanation. Today it seems very much different. The blind don't see when Catholics come around. The lame don't walk when priests pray for them. Perhaps the way in which God generates faith has changed since Apostolic Days. It just doesn't make sense to me, however, that Miracles were the way to confirm the truth of the Gospel back then... but not now.

At least St Thomas the Apostle was mentioned by Indian Christians. If he didn't do a miracle how did he get converts?  Modernists seem to be the worst enemies of faith because they just dismiss what they don't want to believe. How does one account fror conversion of the indigenous people of the Americas without mentioning Our Lady of Guadalupe?
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#7
(11-11-2014, 06:48 PM)Heorot Wrote: Friends,

Imagine you're an average pagan walking in a large foreign city. A criminal whose name is known to you was recently executed for many reasons, including sedition. You have heard of strange events and miraculous healing associated with him, but never saw these yourself.

As you pass by a large home, a man comes out surrounded by about 100 people, and says that the criminal who died by lethal injection - or electrocution, or hanging - opened His own mortuary and walked out very much alive, and even transformed. You see no signs, miracles, or wondrous things. You do not even see the criminal himself. You only hear this claim about him.

There are no books about him, no public culture built up around him, and no developed idea of what has really occurred. All you know is that this group of about 100 people claim to have started to see him again, beginning more than two months ago. They waited all this time to say anything. How do you react, in all honesty?

When I personally consider the resurrection-claims, it all comes down to the credibility of the Apostles. "Empty Tomb"s, "Swoon"s, and other arguments are mere sophistry. Can you put yourself in the sandals of a random person standing before Peter on Pentecost? Any claims of miracles are just claims, as much as the claims of resurrection.  What on Earth would make you believe him?

A small, persecuted sect of a persecuted religion converted the most powerful empire in the world through testimony, not the sword, etc.  Were all those people just a bunch of credulous dupes? It seems to me there must have been something credible about them--I think it is a combination of their miracles and the example of their purity of life, especially in the face of persecution. And don't forget the grace of God and power of the Holy Spirit.
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#8
(11-11-2014, 10:38 PM)Heorot Wrote:
(11-11-2014, 09:24 PM)formerbuddhist Wrote: Probably all the miracles. The scriptures and the lives of the saints are loaded with the miraculous. Todays modern attitude is to say they are all just primitive embellishments and superstitions but i doubt it. Only serious miracles could have converted so many. Modern man might be swayed by cerebral philosophical arguments in favor of the resurrection but i don't think our ancestors would have been. Something magical happened at pentecost.

Thanks formerbuddhist.

Two things have bothered me about this for a long time:

1. How do we know the Apostles actually existed? They don't talk about themselves in the actual New Testament all that much. Outside the Scriptures and Tradition, are there any references to the Apostles and their fates by people other than Church writers? It means a lot, because almost every proof of the Resurrection I've heard depends on the faithful witness of the Apostles, even unto death. If they never actually died for this Gospel, would you still believe their message? If we had absolutely no evidence for their martyrdom, where else would we look?

2. I never witnessed any miracles. No one I know has ever witnessed any miracles. Who cares if all the signs and wonders of the old days were embellishments, deceptions, or explanations of natural events? At least something actually happened that needed an explanation. Today it seems very much different. The blind don't see when Catholics come around. The lame don't walk when priests pray for them. Perhaps the way in which God generates faith has changed since Apostolic Days. It just doesn't make sense to me, however, that Miracles were the way to confirm the truth of the Gospel back then... but not now.

Sometimes I wonder if I'm just engaging in Intellectual Curiosity. I dunno.
1. I don't see any reason to distrust the apostles. But even if that were the case, many Roman writers assumed the martyrdom of the disciples as a known fact. This is what seems to be a virulently anticatholic blog but this particular page on it does a good job of laying out the evidence from Roman writers: http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2013/04/a...death.html    .  Additionally, I think, probably because of Protestant influences, so much emphasis is placed on the historical character of the miracles rather than on the continuing miracle which is the presence of grace in the Church. The common people have probably knew little about the historical evidence for the miracles but they believed in them anyways--because God revealed himself through the grace of the Church.

2. Regarding miracles after the Resurrection in my opinion it's not so necessary that there be miracles but miracles there are enough. What about the miraculous foundation of Christendom, the thousands of miracles performed by saints, and all the Marian apparitions like Fatima? There used to be so many miracles...even as little as a century ago. I do agree that there are less now but that is probably because of the wickedness of our age. In 2 Thessalonians there is a famous quote about the restrainer of the Antichrist. Maybe, and this is a total guess, the restrainer was the Roman Empire (as the Church Fathers said) and its fall has brought about the ongoing chaos of the world, one symptom of which is the lack of faith to move mountains and, in so doing, perform miracles. Also, we are told of lying wonders toward the end of the world and, certainly, an essential aspect of this would be the end of frequent visible miracles. Even if we are not close to the end of the world, God is not bound to perform miracles since, as it is said, it is sometimes useless to seek a sign.
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#9
In the old baptismal rite  you have this dialogue:

Priest: (Name of infant), what do you ask of the Church of God?
Godparent: Faith.
Priest: What does the faith offer you?
Godparents: Eternal life.

In a way that sums things up for me, and why I can pretty easily set aside doubts about whether or not the resurrection really happened or the apostles were real, because we receive our Faith through our Mother, the Church.. We don't have to do all the thinking and the legwork, we are born anew into the life of God through our good Mother who has guarded all the truths necessary for peace of soul and salvation. The Chur h has only existed for as long as it has because it is true, because it is the Bride of our Lord.

The Church safeguards salvation history, our stories, our traditions and everything else we could possibly need. The baptismal liturgy in the Old Rite really shows this in that simple dialogue. We are made sharers in the radiant dawn of the ressurection and the mysterious outpouring of grace at Pentecost when we enter the Church. We are only here, today, discussing this, because of the apostles, the saints, the martyrs and our brothers in the Faith who, like us, we're given this Faith in the Church, through the Church and pass this on throughout history.
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#10
(11-12-2014, 02:38 PM)formerbuddhist Wrote: In the old baptismal rite  you have this dialogue:

Priest: (Name of infant), what do you ask of the Church of God?
Godparent: Faith.
Priest: What does the faith offer you?
Godparents: Eternal life.

In a way that sums things up for me, and why I can pretty easily set aside doubts about whether or not the resurrection really happened or the apostles were real, because we receive our Faith through our Mother, the Church.. We don't have to do all the thinking and the legwork, we are born anew into the life of God through our good Mother who has guarded all the truths necessary for peace of soul and salvation. The Chur h has only existed for as long as it has because it is true, because it is the Bride of our Lord.

The Church safeguards salvation history, our stories, our traditions and everything else we could possibly need. The baptismal liturgy in the Old Rite really shows this in that simple dialogue. We are made sharers in the radiant dawn of the ressurection and the mysterious outpouring of grace at Pentecost when we enter the Church. We are only here, today, discussing this, because of the apostles, the saints, the martyrs and our brothers in the Faith who, like us, we're given this Faith in the Church, through the Church and pass this on throughout history.

Exactly. The main problem with Protestantism is that it makes the faith a matter of intellectual inquiry rather than participating in God's grace given through Christ. Christ did not leave us orphans who have to go through their intellectual journey to find out the true faith. The first disciples were simple fishermen and through them Christ founded an institution which shall always preserve his teachings unto the end of time.

It's kind of interesting actually. From my perspective a few years ago I was first quite obsessed with finding historical arguments for the truth of the Christian Faith and historical arguments I did find. When I did find them I truly mean it: every thing I looked at pointed to the factual historical truth of the Christian message and the error of the deniers.

And yet now I couldn't care less about any of those arguments. For all I care now they might (which is of course impossible since you can't just erase history) never have given those arguments in the first place and I would still believe with the same certainty with which I do now.
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