What does it mean to be a Christian? (Translated from Afrikaans)
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Similar to words such as "God", "love", "racism" and "Apartheid", the word "Christian" is understood and interpreted differently by people. Many Christians tend to accept only people who believe that Jesus died as the Son of God for all people’s sins and who believe that the Bible is the Word of God as "true" Christians. Is there enough evidence that the Bible is the infallible Word of God because, among other things, the birth and crucifixion of Jesus were allegedly correctly predicted in the Old Testament? In what ways does the original meaning of the word “Christian” in the Bible differ from that of its popular meaning today? Did Jesus, according to the description of his life story in the four gospels, clearly state that God is Triune in nature and that he, as Son of God, is part of God Triune?
Traditional Christians believe that Jesus is the Son of God and that He died for the sins of all people. Many of them also believe that certain passages in the Old Testament correctly predicted the birth and crucifixion of Jesus. However, there are many other Christians who do not accept these beliefs of traditional Christians. Some of them, for example, reject the theistic view of God regarding the Personal nature of God, as well as the idea that Jesus was both completely God and Man. They do accept that the Bible contains many wisdoms, but they claim that it is a book written by fallible people to articulate their understanding of the Divine. Many contemporary “liberal” Christians, for example, reject the traditional Christian dogmas regarding the Triune nature of God, the hereditary sin doctrine,
When the Bible is consulted as the original source for the meaning of the word "Christian", it is clear that those specific Bible passages do not correspond to the popular understanding of this word. The word "Christian" appears only 3 times in the New Testament (Acts 11:26, Acts 26:28 and 1 Peter 4:16) and refers to the followers of a Christ or a Messiah. The original Greek word for Christ, viz. Christos, is often used as a translation of the Hebrew word Mashiach, which refers to a human Messiah or anointed one. So nowhere is there a clear definition of the word “Christian” in the Bible that has the same meaning as that of a traditional Christian as someone who believes that Jesus as the only begotten Son of God (and part of God Triune), for all sinners died on the cross. Traditional Christians often use the excuse that the Bible as a whole must be understood before "true" Christianity can be understood. It is quite reminiscent of Totius’s similar comments in a 1944 paper entitled "The Religious Basis of Our Racial Policy" , in which he argued that the whole Bible, instead of just certain verses, is sufficient evidence that Apartheid’s policy is biblically justifiable. is!
Moreover, fundamentalist Christians believe (1) that only people who accept Jesus as their personal Savior and Redeemer can inherit eternal life; (2) that Jesus was born of the virgin Mary; (3) that He has risen physically from the dead and (4) that the Bible is the infallible "Word of God". They therefore also believe that Jesus is part of God Triune and that all people are "received and born into sin". The Calvinistic principles of faith that have been accepted by many Afrikaans-speaking people in recent decades are part of this line of thinking. However, many Christians who claim that the Bible is the literal Word of God interpret certain parts of it literally, while interpreting other (uncomfortable) passages either allegorically or metaphorically, or as less important. Thus, some Christians condemn homosexual acts,
Some texts of certain Bible translations have been altered to support ecclesiastical dogmas. One of the best-known examples of this is, of course, 1 John 5: 7 in the old 1953 Afrikaans Bible translation: “ For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word [Jesus?] And the Holy Spirit, and the three are one. … ” . It was translated as part of the 1953 Afrikaans Bible from the old (Roman Catholic-inspired) Latin Vulgate Bible. This passage was initially inserted by Roman Catholic translators to justify their fabricated dogma about the Triune God. However, the same text is absent in the 1983 Afrikaans Bible translation, precisely because the New Testament in this Bible was mainly translated from Greek translations. The English King James Version(KJV) Bible’s version of this verse corresponds to its Afrikaans 1953 translation, while many other English Bibles’ versions of it correspond to those of the 1983 Afrikaans Bible translation.
Traditional Christians often claim that certain passages of the Old Testament correctly predicted the later birth and / or crucifixion of Jesus. One of the most important verses to which they refer is Isaiah 7:14: "Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel." However, the word "virgin" was incorrectly translated from the original Hebrew word ha-almah. Jewish scribes point out that the Hebrew word betulah is often used in the Bible to refer specifically to a virgin, e.g. in Genesis 24:16, Exodus 22: 17-17, Leviticus 21:14 and Deuteronomy 22: 13-21. The Hebrew word ha-almahwould therefore have been more correctly translated as “young woman”. Just then in Isaiah 7:16, the prophet Isaiah, King Ahaz, tried to convince him that the threat of the coalition between Aram (Syria) and Israel (Ephraim) would be over even before the child Immanuel (who would be born within the king’s lifetime will be) old enough to distinguish between good and evil: “For before the young boy [Immanuel] knows how to reject what is evil and choose what is good, the land for whose two kings you [King Agas] is afraid, be forsaken. ”
Isaiah 53: 3-6 is an important passage in the Old Testament that allegedly correctly predicted the crucifixion of Jesus. However, the "servant" in this passage refers to Jewish exiles, while "we" most likely refers to other Israelites. In verse 6 "servant" refers to the exiles who suffered because of the sins and transgressions of especially the other Israelites who "went astray". Verse 5: " He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our sins" , does not refer to Jesus being bruised or pierced "for the sake of" sinners, but to exiles (he) who suffered because of others (staying at home) Israelites’ (our) transgressions. In the English KJV and several other translations, verse 5 was mistranslated with: “ But he was wounded forour transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities ” . A more correct translation from the original Hebrew would have been: " But he was wounded because of our transgressions, he was crushed because of our iniquities" . 
Christians have therefore made several attempts to present the entire Bible as one harmonious whole within which there are no contradictions at all and in which there are prophetic prophecies that are later fulfilled. In this way, they gave more apparent (Divine) authority to their master story regarding a Messiah who was born of the nation of Israel and whose birth and crucifixion were also correctly predicted in the Old Testament – which is supposedly also Divine-inspired. However, there are basic differences between the Old and New Testaments that suggest that they represent two different faith traditions. The Old Testament deals mainly with the relationship between the people of Israel and their supposed tribal god Yahweh,
The Devil is seldom referred to in the Old Testament, precisely because the god Yahweh of the Old Testament – as the alleged Almighty Creator, was ultimately responsible for both the Good and the Evil One. However, the god of the New Testament is less "directly" responsible for the Evil One, precisely because the Devil is more prominent in the New Testament and he "took over" this "evil role" of that god. Christians often claim that the old serpent of the Genesis story was indeed the very old Devil. This claim is part of the original sin doctrine of traditional Christians according to which all people are conceived and born in sin and can only receive salvation through the "blood of Jesus". The characteristics of the vengeful and racist god of the Old Testament also differ "vastly" from Jesus’ characteristics, which are embodied in his references to "turn your other cheek" and "love your enemies". The Old Testament’s "Israel versus the rest of the world" was thus later replaced by the New Testament’s "believers versus the unbelievers".
According to many Bible scholars, the four Gospels as well as Paul’s books were written only after the year 50 GE and can therefore not be considered as reliable eyewitness accounts. The gospels also contradict each other regarding the exact course of events at the empty tomb of Jesus! Compare in this connection John 20: 1, Matthew 28: 1 and Mark 16: 1-2. Because these events took place so long ago, it is also almost impossible to determine the exact course of events.
Prof. David JP Haasbroek of UNISA published an informative book in 1999, “ The Mythological and Political origins of Christianity”,published in which he explained the origins of early Christianity. This book is unfortunately not very well known and is difficult to obtain. He explains how early Christianity “inherited” many customs, such as Christmas and Easter, from the ancient pagan religions. As a result, the Christian religion became more acceptable and attractive, especially to non-Christian Greeks and Romans. Jesus’ alleged miracles, atoning death (heroic death) on the cross and his later resurrection, were similar to the myths concerning Egyptian, Roman and Greek gods such as Horus, Mithras and Dionysus. Emperor Constantine opportunistically misused these facts to unite the Roman Empire under the banner of Christianity. He also forced the bishops to formally formulate their dogma about the Triune God in the Nicene Creed. Later, the Christian religion was even elevated to the Roman state religion.
It would therefore appear that the statue of traditional Christianity actually has feet of clay. Nowhere in the Gospels, for example, is there a clear statement by Jesus himself in which he declares that he is both fully God and Man, or that he is part of God Triune and will die for people’s sins. Allegations that the entire Bible is Divinely inspired because certain passages in the Old Testament correctly foretold Jesus’ birth and death on the cross are based on mistranslations of original Hebrew words. References to Jesus’ virgin birth, miracles, and physical resurrection from the dead are thus primarily faith-based – without sufficient historical evidence for its validity. Mistranslations and additions of passages in later translations of the New Testament in order to justify the traditional dogmas of churches are still used by fundamentalist Christians to justify some of their beliefs. The traditional Christian "fall-redemption-final judgment" master story contains elements of both Jewish and pagan Greek and Roman religious traditions. It is thus a combination of both a centuries-old tradition that the Israelites presented for hundreds of years as the so-called chosen people of God and of pre-Christian "pagan" ideas about a god who incarnates as a human being and then a heroic death die for “ordinary” mortals. The traditional Christian "fall-redemption-final judgment" master story contains elements of both Jewish and pagan Greek and Roman religious traditions. It is thus a combination of both a centuries-old tradition that the Israelites presented for hundreds of years as the so-called chosen people of God and of pre-Christian "pagan" ideas about a god who incarnates as a human being and then a heroic death die for “ordinary” mortals. The traditional Christian "fall-redemption-final judgment" master story contains elements of both Jewish and pagan Greek and Roman religious traditions. It is thus a combination of both a centuries-old tradition that the Israelites presented for hundreds of years as the so-called chosen people of God and of pre-Christian "pagan" ideas about a god who incarnates as a human being and then a heroic death die for “ordinary” mortals.
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