# Jesus: faith vs works

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Did Jesus teach faith only salvation(like Paul), or did He teach that works are necessary? I tend to think the latter, despite much opposition by most Christian sects. In my defense, it's one of the major themes of Matthew.

"Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till ALL be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach [them], the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed [the righteousness] of the scribes and Pharisees, YE SHALL IN NO CASE enter into the kingdom of heaven."-Matthew 5:17-20

"Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither [can] a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them."-Matthew 7:17-20

"Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it. And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine: For he taught them as [one] having authority, and not as the scribes."-Matthew 7:24-29

"Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any [man] will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works. Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom."-Matthew 16:24-28

"And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? [there is] none good but one, [that is], God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Honour thy father and [thy] mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet? Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go [and] sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come [and] follow me. But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions."-Matthew 19:16-22

"Now in the morning as he returned into the city, he hungered. And when he saw a fig tree in the way, he came to it, and found nothing thereon, but leaves only, and said unto it, Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward for ever. And presently the fig tree withered away."-Matthew 21:18-19

"For [the kingdom of heaven is] as a man travelling into a far country, [who] called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods. And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey. Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made [them] other five talents. And likewise he that [had received] two, he also gained other two. But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord's money. After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them. And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more. His lord said unto him, Well done, [thou] good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents: behold, I have gained two other talents beside them. His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed: And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, [there] thou hast [that is] thine. His lord answered and said unto him, [Thou] wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed: Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and [then] at my coming I should have received mine own with usury. Take therefore the talent from him, and give [it] unto him which hath ten talents. For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath. And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth."-Matthew 25:14-30

"When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth [his] sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed [thee]? or thirsty, and gave [thee] drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took [thee] in? or naked, and clothed [thee]? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done [it] unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done [it] unto me. Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did [it] not to one of the least of these, ye did [it] not to me. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal."-Matthew 25:31-46

etc

Thoughts? Rebuttals?

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I don't think the New Testament "changed" the rules. Jesus stated that the rules were still in place. What Jesus objected to was the Pharisees and their method of interpreting the law, deciding what s

Thoughts? Rebuttals?

I think faith and works are inseparable. If someone believes that he will get hit by a train on April 13, 2010, he's not going to be crossing any railroad tracks on that day. Someone who truly repents is not going to go about doing it again all the time.

Here's another

"As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, "I will follow you wherever you go." Jesus replied, "Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head." He said to another man, "Follow me." But the man replied, "Lord, first let me go and bury my father." Jesus said to him, "Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God." Still another said, "I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say good-by to my family." Jesus replied, "No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God."" Luke 9:57-62

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Based on my conversation with a born-again evangelical minister, I can advance a simple compromise: if you have faith, you will do good works.

The minister (ministress? she was female) said that now that she's born again, she can't even think of doing bad things. Her faith compels her to do good works.

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The minister (ministress? she was female) said that now that she's born again, she can't even think of doing bad things. Her faith compels her to do good works.

I doubt that she follows the Law.

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I doubt that she follows the Law.

So by "works" do you mean "the Jewish Law" or "good things"?

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So by "works" do you mean "the Jewish Law" or "good things"?

Both. Jesus was quite clear that the Law was to be followed to the letter until the second coming.

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Both. Jesus was quite clear that the Law was to be followed to the letter until the second coming.

really? "Law" means what? The ten commandments? because.. well.. Christians ain't following two of 'em.

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Actually 11 commandments, if you consider , the new commandment brought to us by Jesus "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another". (John 13:34)

Anyhow, which of those two, are not followed by Christians ?

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Anyhow, which of those two, are not followed by Christians ?

I'm not sure. Catholics, at least, use 'graven images' aka idols.

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I'm not sure. Catholics, at least, use 'graven images' aka idols.

ydoaPs, my friend. Before saying anything else, I must say a few things about myself (off-topic). Im from Chile, which is a country where Catholicism is the main kind of religion existent, so even if we dont accept it completely (my case), we have to get used to it, since its everywhere around. I was baptized by my parents as a methodist, by then I was a baby,so I couldnt complain against their decision, but after my 15 th birthday, I had a mind of my own, and my agnosthism, if you can call it as that, started developing in me till now.

Getting back to the issue here, those Idols that you say, arent such, they are images that represents saints and holy people refered in the bible, and through them they worship God, the only God, and its teachings. They dont worship those figures, by what they are, but what they represent, that is, God, the holy ghost, its creation and the faith, and everything that he represents. Catholics are monotheists, and believe in only one god. (oh yes, I also believe in God, I simply decided not to follow him blinfolded. Im like the apostole, who said that "if I dont see it with my own eyes and put my fingers in his wounds, I will not believe").

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• 1 month later...
ydoaPs, my friend. Before saying anything else, I must say a few things about myself (off-topic). Im from Chile, which is a country where Catholicism is the main kind of religion existent, so even if we dont accept it completely (my case), we have to get used to it, since its everywhere around. I was baptized by my parents as a methodist, by then I was a baby,so I couldnt complain against their decision, but after my 15 th birthday, I had a mind of my own, and my agnosthism, if you can call it as that, started developing in me till now.

Getting back to the issue here, those Idols that you say, arent such, they are images that represents saints and holy people refered in the bible, and through them they worship God, the only God, and its teachings. They dont worship those figures, by what they are, but what they represent, that is, God, the holy ghost, its creation and the faith, and everything that he represents. Catholics are monotheists, and believe in only one god. (oh yes, I also believe in God, I simply decided not to follow him blinfolded. Im like the apostole, who said that "if I dont see it with my own eyes and put my fingers in his wounds, I will not believe").

In this post, moodypoo clarifies what she was talking about:

No means to be offensive here, jryan, but which 10 commandments? The original 10 commandments were in hebrew. And they weren't precisely what you said here.

Here is a decent translation (parallel to the hebrew original): http://www.mechon-mamre.org/p/pt/pt0220.htm

I am the LORD thy God, who brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before Me.

Thou shalt not make unto thee a graven image, nor any manner of likeness, of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth;

...

thou shalt not bow down unto them, nor serve them; for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate Me;

NOW comes the part about the idols (which, btw, is problematic as it is, seeing as according to the above law, having a cross *in general* (as a pendant or a symbol at all) is not allowed.

Your interpretation is personal, jryan. The context makes it clear to me that this is about a jealous god demanding his subjects be loyal. It's about power.

That's an interpretation, and one that is personal. If you go by the literal translation, you're wrong, it's about the seventh day of creation.

If you go by any other interpretation, then others are worth just as much as yours does. The original, btw, *CONtINUES*. God explains, see:

Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.

Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work;

but the seventh day is a sabbath unto the LORD thy God, in it thou shalt not do any manner of work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, nor thy man-servant, nor thy maid-servant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates;

for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested on the seventh day; wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.

This is about worship. It's about remembering how God is almighty and created everything and took a day off. He's quite explicit in explaining this 'rest on the sabbath' law, even though Christians seemed to ignore this one too.

Yeah, okay, I'll give you that.. again, I am not sure what you mean here with your very personal viewpoint (I can totally interpret this differently, but.. fine).

The original, just for consistency:

Honour thy father and thy mother, that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.

5) You shall not murder: Self explanatory.

6) You shall not commit adultery: This is a longer discussion that I want to get into here, but as you can see in the "Sex" thread, I find wisdom here that I didn't see in my youth.

7) You shall not steal: Also fairly self explanatory. But I think at it's root is the understanding that societies that condone thievery are weak societies. In this commandment lies the respect of personal property that is the underpinning of all healthy societies.

8) You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor: Another fairly self explanatory law. This law establishes the need for truth in public discourse. Like respect for personal property, healthy societies are built of truths. I don't think many people would argue that our legal system works better when ruling on what actually happened, for instance.

12
Thou shalt not murder.
{S}
{S}
Thou shalt not steal.
{S}
Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.
{S}

Yeah those are the 'duh' laws. Still, they're later explained in much much depth in Deutronomy.

Yeah, no. The full sentence (in hebrew/aramaic) is this:

Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house;
{S}
thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his man-servant, nor his maid-servant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour's.
{P}

This is about not covetting anything that doesn't belong to you. Since women were pretty much property, they are grouped together with the neighbor's house, servants, ox and asses. Honestly, I am not sure this is very good example for moral standing in the bible, considering the placement of women in it. But again, sure, why not, interpret it as you wish... just don't claim your interpretation is "the example" or "the norm". It's not.

That's part of the commandment above, not separate from it.

The only reason I ended up with 9 and not 10, is because the first commandment ("I am your god... do not have any others") is actually two commandments (one saying 'do not have any other gods' and another 'idols').

I would recommend you look here:
(sometimes wikipedia actually rules) at the divisions of the laws. Also, go over the *ORIGINAL* text of the bible -- if you're already intended on inserting it into the discussion as an example, then at least use the original text, which is not like the translated (and pre-interpreted) text. Not at all.

~moo
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Paul, James and Christ were all in agreement..

Luther was incorrect when he called the the book of James straw..

Rickdog there are not 11 commandments. Jesus Christ was trying to break down the 10 to their basic premises. The first Five are love for God and the last Five are love for man.

Jesus taught that the law was not done away with.

“But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments” (Matthew 19:17)

He was talking about commandment keeping and certain aspects of the law he came to amplify. Animal sacrifice was replaced by the ultimate sacrifice, which was the death of the lamb (himself).

"Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 5:17–19)

How come so many people claim to love him yet they won't even follow his basic instructions? Does anyone here believe that Christ broke the sabbath once?

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I'm not sure. Catholics, at least, use 'graven images' aka idols.

Exactly.. They don't even follow the basic commandments so how can they profess to be Christ's church?

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really? "Law" means what? The ten commandments? because.. well.. Christians ain't following two of 'em.

Well actually that's a fallacy. You said Christians, not all Christians ignore the law.

You just kinda lumped them all together but it's not reality.

That's like me saying that all 15 year olds listen to Nirvana...

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Exactly.. They don't even follow the basic commandments so how can they profess to be Christ's church?

As Rickdog pointed out, you have it completely wrong. When Catholics pray to Mary (or any saint) it is in request that these saints pray on their behalf. This is not the same as creating an image of a false God and praying to it.

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As Rickdog pointed out, you have it completely wrong. When Catholics pray to Mary (or any saint) it is in request that these saints pray on their behalf. This is not the same as creating an image of a false God and praying to it.

Why because Mary is in heaven with God?

"John 3:13 And no one has ascended up to Heaven except He who came down from Heaven, the Son of Man who is in Heaven."

I have it completely wrong then?

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As Rickdog pointed out, you have it completely wrong. When Catholics pray to Mary (or any saint) it is in request that these saints pray on their behalf. This is not the same as creating an image of a false God and praying to it.

In the ten commandments, the text is clear. You are to avoid even having a picture of anyone, related or unrelated to god, as a source of - or conduit to - worship. On top of that come the graven image and the symbol to represent God.

You aren't supposed to even have a SYMBOLIC representation of God.

Relgious jews don't have posters of their favorite actors, for instance. The might have posters of scenery, or nature, but not of people. The commandment, once read without pre-interpreted-translation, is quite clear.

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In the ten commandments, the text is clear. You are to avoid even having a picture of anyone, related or unrelated to god, as a source of - or conduit to - worship. On top of that come the graven image and the symbol to represent God.

Worshiping is not the same as praying to. You can pray to a saint while looking at their idol, but you're not worshiping them.

Take a look at Deuteronomy 5:8-10, where the commandments are repeated:

You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, punishing children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and fourth generation of those who reject me, but showing steadfast love to the thousandth generation of those who love me and keep my commandments.

Note the line "You shall not bow down to them or worship them." This is a prohibition of submitting to any deity but God, or making an idol of another deity and submitting to the idol.

If you want to read it your way, the prohibition of making an idol of things "on the earth beneath" would seem to prohibit, say, making statues of people we like. But I think God starts having a problem when we worship the statues.

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Worshiping is not the same as praying to. You can pray to a saint while looking at their idol, but you're not worshiping them.

You shall not have any image, or representation of God.

HAVE.

Take a look at Deuteronomy 5:8-10, where the commandments are repeated:

If you want to look on places where the commandments are repeated or further explained, the entire book of Leviticus does just that. Quite in detail.

But let's look at the original:

Exodus 20:3-4

3
Thou shalt not make unto thee a graven image, nor any manner of likeness, of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth;

4
thou shalt not bow down unto them, nor serve them; for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate Me;

Deutronomy 5:7-8

7
Thou shalt not make unto thee a graven image, even any manner of likeness, of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.

8
Thou shalt not bow down unto them, nor serve them; for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the third and upon the fourth generation of them that hate Me,

(Wikipedia includes Exodus 34 [http://www.mechon-mamre.org/p/pt/pt0234.htm] as one of the sources for the ten commandments. In this case, though, it speaks of what not to do with other gods, and not what to do/not do about representation for god himself).

Notice: First you shouldn't make or have ANYTHING that either represents or has a resemblence to me(God). *Then*, the commandment continues to say you shall not bow down or serve them.

Note the line "You shall not bow down to them or worship them." This is a prohibition of submitting to any deity but God, or making an idol of another deity and submitting to the idol.

No. Read the entire section. "Don't make symbols of me... and don't bow to them."

If you want to read it your way, the prohibition of making an idol of things "on the earth beneath" would seem to prohibit, say, making statues of people we like. But I think God starts having a problem when we worship the statues.

Indeed. You're not allowed to do any sort of statue, graven image or picture according to this law. Religious jews (and the Amish, too, for example) follow it; they don't have a poster of their favorite actors or dolls that look human.

Either you choose to read the bible literally, or you don't. If you don't, it's a free-for-all; it's symbolic anyways. If you do, then read the original version, where the literal meaning is clearest.

The bible, for once, is clear. It's also repeating the commandments over and over, with different examples.

~moo

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Paul, James and Christ were all in agreement.
Paul and Peter had completely different views regarding whether the Law should be follow. One based their views on what Jesus said, and the other didn't. Guess who quoted Jesus.

For the confrontation Paul described see Galations 2:11-17. However, I'll type out some passages from texts you probably don't have to give you a fuller sense of their relationship.

"For some among the gentiles have rejected my lawful preaching and have preferred a lawless and absurd doctrine of the man who is my enemy. And indeed some have attempted, while I am still alive, to distort my word by interpretations on many sorts, as if I taught the dissolution of the Law...But that may God forbid! For to do such a thing means to act contrary to the Law of God which was made to Moses and was confirmed by our Lord in its everlating continuance. For He said, 'The heavens and earth will pass away, but not one jot or tittle shall pass away from the Law.'"-Letter of Peter to James 2:3-5

"And if our Jesus appeared to you and became known in a vision and met you as angry and an enemy, yet he has spoken only through visions and dreams or through external revelations. But can anyone be made competent to teach through a vision? And if your opinion is that that is possible, why then did our teacher spend a whole year with us who were awake? How can we believe you even if he has appeared to you?...But if you were visited by him for the space of an hour and were instructed by him and thereby have become an apostle, then proclaim his words, expound what he has taught, be a friend to his apostles, and do not contend with me, whoa m his confidant; for you have in hostility withstood me, who am a firm rock, the foundation stone of the Church."-Peter(Clementine Homilies 17:19)

It is clear that Paul(even through his own writings) thinks the Law need not be followed. However, it is also clear that Jesus said the exact opposite.

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Notice: First you shouldn't make or have ANYTHING that either represents or has a resemblence to me(God). *Then*, the commandment continues to say you shall not bow down or serve them.

Note that it does not specifically say graven images that resemble God. It says "anything that is in heaven above."

Now, if we take the transcendent model of God which is so popular in Christian theology, this is not a problem in the slightest, since God is immaterial and has no body, and therefore no image can resemble God. As for things in heaven, it's debatable -- Jesus ascended to heaven, but by the doctrine of the Trinity, he's also god, and so he might as well now be immaterial as well. That gets a bit confusing.

Now, what I'm really curious about is what "graven" is supposed to specifically mean. The OED gives two definitions:

1. Sculptured, hewn.

2. Carved on a surface, engraved.

I wonder what the original intent was.

No. Read the entire section. "Don't make symbols of me... and don't bow to them."

Indeed. You're not allowed to do any sort of statue, graven image or picture according to this law. Religious jews (and the Amish, too, for example) follow it; they don't have a poster of their favorite actors or dolls that look human.

Well, I don't really see the Amish going down to the store and buying a poster of the Jonas Brothers for their kids, but sure...

Either you choose to read the bible literally, or you don't. If you don't, it's a free-for-all; it's symbolic anyways. If you do, then read the original version, where the literal meaning is clearest.

There is no "original version", so it's really a matter of choosing a translation that uses the best sources and the best translation techniques. That's very, very hard.

For example, your Hebrew site uses a 1917 Hebrew version (presumably because it's now in public domain) that was published before the Dead Sea Scrolls were uncovered. Texts like the NRSV retranslate from the same Masoretic text while taking into account the Dead Sea Scrolls and other recent discoveries.

Now, I'm sure if you're fluent in Hebrew, you could find a modern printed Masoretic text that takes into account all the newest discoveries. But this is really a side note, since I don't think the commandments have changed too much...

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Note that it does not specifically say graven images that resemble God. It says "anything that is in heaven above."

So far we seem to agree....

Now, if we take the transcendent model of God which is so popular in Christian theology, this is not a problem in the slightest, since God is immaterial and has no body, and therefore no image can resemble God. As for things in heaven, it's debatable -- Jesus ascended to heaven, but by the doctrine of the Trinity, he's also god, and so he might as well now be immaterial as well. That gets a bit confusing.

Cap'n, the rule states that you should ahve no picture (and on the other version they add 'of anything in the heaven above OR THE EARTH BELOW), and no symbol of God.

Jesus, be him the man jesus (on the cross) or the symbolic son of god jesus (with the halo, whatever) is still an image. It's against that rule, whether jesus ascended or not.

(I'll go over the rest later, gotta run to class)

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Paul, James and Christ were all in agreement..

Paul and Peter had completely different views regarding whether the Law should be follow.

There's a good wiki summary in: Judaizers: In the Early Church

Statements like these seem mutually exclusive to me,

Paul: "For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law."

James: "You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone."

Who could say what Jesus actually taught.

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Who could say what Jesus actually taught.

Peter, who was there. How about the people who quoted Jesus(portions of which I quoted above)?

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Cap'n, the rule states that you should ahve no picture (and on the other version they add 'of anything in the heaven above OR THE EARTH BELOW), and no symbol of God.

It doesn't specifically say a symbol of God, just a symbol of anything in Heaven.

Jesus, be him the man jesus (on the cross) or the symbolic son of god jesus (with the halo, whatever) is still an image. It's against that rule, whether jesus ascended or not.

Now, the NRSV states "You shall not make for yourself an idol" rather than a graven image. According to the OED, in Jewish and Christian use, idol means

An image or similitude of a deity or divinity, used as an object of worship: applied to those worshipped by pagans, whence, in scriptural language, = false god, a fictitious divinity which ‘is nothing in the world’ (1 Cor. viii. 4).

Now, other translations I find say "graven image" or even say "likeness", so I gather the meaning is not quite certain. One could take the passage (as a whole) to mean either "don't make idols to worship, just worship me" or "don't make images of anything, and only worship me".

Regardless of which you think is right, one can easily see that Christians would jump for the first version, and I can't blame them. When I get home I can check my NIV Study Bible to see what the evangelicals think about it.

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Through law comes the knowledge of sin. Sin taking opportunity through the commandment (law) produces sin of every kind. Sin is not imputed where there is no law.

Let me give an example. We will use the alcohol prohibition of the 1920's. Thou shall not drink booze!". Before that, the average Joe could have a couple of beers and went on with their life. Sin was not imputed when there was no law. He was measured by his character. Once the prohibition was instituted, we now have sin, where it was not before. Even the moderate drinker, was now a sinner.

Although before the prohibition there were drunks, after the law, sin taking opportunity through the commandment, produced sin of every kind. Now we not only have the original alcohol sinners, but also we go the black market sinners, murders, corrupt politicians, judges and police.

Now we also have the self righteous, condemning others, etc. We all know they are all holier than thou, because the law allows this. Through the law comes the knowledge of sin. Before when we saw Joe, he was our neighbor. Now with the knowledge of sin, we can't associated with him, since he magically became a sinner, yesterday. Love grows cold. Also the children, wondering what all the fuss is, come to know the sin of alcohol through all the stipulations in the law.

Once the law was repealed and sin was no longer imputed, the expansion of sin dropped. Those, who ignored the law and lived by their own faith never broke stride nor got suck into the sin of self righteousness. \

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