Cities Without Walls

There’s a passage in Ezekiel that some Christians view as a prophecy that has been fulfilled by modern Israel:

and say, ‘I will go up against the land of unwalled villages. I will fall upon the quiet people who dwell securely, all of them dwelling without walls, and having no bars or gates,’
— Ezek 38:11

How could Ezekiel have foreseen a time in which Israel’s cities would not need walls for protection? It’s true that most modern cities today do not need walls, so does this qualify as an example of a fulfilled prophecy?

I think there are two things we need to look at in examining this. First of all, let’s make sure that Israel really has no walled cities. And secondly, let’s examine the context of this prophecy to make sure we’re not missing anything.

Israel Today

It turns out that Israel actually does use walls today. The West Bank barrier will eventually be about 430 miles long. It’s still being constructed, but as of 2012 it was already 272 miles long.

Most of the barrier is a fence. While that’s not exactly the same as a wall, it serves the same basic purpose. Plus, it uses “bars and gates,” which runs counter to Ezekiel’s prophecy. And some portions of the barrier are indeed tall concrete walls, as shown in these pictures.



Photos courtesy of Wikipedia

In addition to the West Bank barrier, there’s also a barrier between Israel and the Gaza strip. Just like the West Bank barrier, it’s comprised mostly of fence with some concrete sections.

Does the current state of Israel really match Ezekiel’s description?

The Context

If we back up to Ezekiel 37, we see the famous skeleton army that God raised up for Ezekiel. And God tells him (vs 11-14) that the army represents the nation of Israel. Though it seems lost, God will restore it one day — he will be their God, and they will serve him. This is a pretty constant refrain among the prophets, Ezekiel in particular. This refers back to the kingdom of Israel, northern neighbor to Judah. The OT says that Israel and Judah were made up of the original 12 tribes. After the death of Solomon, the northern 10 tribes broke away and formed the nation of Israel (appointing a new king not of David’s line), and the southern 2 tribes formed the nation of Judah. There’s not good archaeological support for this story at this point in time. However, the existence of the two separate kingdoms is quite well attested.

In about 722 BCE, the Assyrian Empire took Israel captive, and the Jewish prophets ascribed this to their failure to serve God faithfully. However, they also predicted that the 10 lost tribes would one day return from captivity. This hasn’t happened.

Ezekiel elaborates even further:

Thus says the Lord God: Behold, I will take the people of Israel from the nations among which they have gone, and will gather them from all around, and bring them to their own land. 22 And I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel. And one king shall be king over them all, and they shall be no longer two nations, and no longer divided into two kingdoms. 23 They shall not defile themselves anymore with their idols and their detestable things, or with any of their transgressions. But I will save them from all the backslidings in which they have sinned, and will cleanse them; and they shall be my people, and I will be their God.

Notice that the end of that passage focuses on Israel’s faithfulness to God. Yet that certainly doesn’t match modern Israel. Like most modern nations, its not homogeneous in its religious views. To me, this is one of the first clues that Ezekiel is not talking about today’s Israel. In verses 26 and 27, it says that God’s sanctuary will be in their midst as well. But with the Muslim Dome of the Rock shrine occupying the Temple Mount, it seems unlikely that a Jewish or Christian worship center will ever take its place. Maybe Ezekiel meant that statement figuratively or spiritually, but it’s still something to consider.

In chapter 38, it initially looks like Ezekiel is changing subjects, because he begins talking about Gog, whom he calls a prince of Meshech and Tubal. But this will actually tie right back in to his discussion about Israel. Gog and the other terms are likely being used figuratively in this passage, though it probably doesn’t matter much either way. The point Ezekiel is making is that God will take Israel’s enemies (represented by Gog and those who serve him) and allow them to build up a mighty force to come upon Israel. It’s at this point that Ezekiel refers to Israel as a land of “unwalled villages.”

To me, this does not seem like Ezekiel cares too much about whether the villages literally have walls or not. The point seems to be that Israel will be living in peace and not have any idea that some horrible force might be amassing against them. This allows God to annihilate Gog and his armies, and it will be obvious to all the surrounding nations that God must have been the one to do it, since Israel was in such a defenseless state:

21 I will summon a sword against Gog on all my mountains, declares the Lord God. Every man’s sword will be against his brother. 22 With pestilence and bloodshed I will enter into judgment with him, and I will rain upon him and his hordes and the many peoples who are with him torrential rains and hailstones, fire and sulfur. 23 So I will show my greatness and my holiness and make myself known in the eyes of many nations. Then they will know that I am the Lord.

Again, this does not match today’s Israel. Israel knows that it’s surrounded by nations who are opposed to them, so it seems unlikely that they could be caught unaware. And their level of military might is quite high.

Ezekiel 39 continues the curse against Gog and reiterates much of what we’ve already covered. However, it also says that once God has dealt with Gog’s armies, the people of Israel will take spoils from their remains:

9 “Then those who dwell in the cities of Israel will go out and make fires of the weapons and burn them, shields and bucklers, bow and arrows, clubs and spears; and they will make fires of them for seven years, 10 so that they will not need to take wood out of the field or cut down any out of the forests, for they will make their fires of the weapons. They will seize the spoil of those who despoiled them, and plunder those who plundered them, declares the Lord God.

I suppose language like this could be viewed figuratively, but I find it a bit striking that this language is so obviously suited for the warfare and way of life of Ezekiel’s time, yet some claim that he foresaw a future in which walls would not be needed for cities? If he could foresee that, why wouldn’t he have foreseen technological advances as well?

I feel that these 3 chapters paint a very clear picture. Ezekiel still believed that the 10 tribes of Israel would one day come back. He was certain that his god was the only true God, and he could understand why God might be angry with his people — but abandon them? Surely he would one day restore them. One day God’s people would be mighty and live under his protection — one day they would finally, fully realize those promises that were made to Abraham. I think that’s the future he was looking toward and describing. But even if he meant something else, there’s really no indication that he was imagining anything like the Israel of today.

Some Closing Thoughts

Since Ezekiel gave no timeline for his prophecy, it’s hard to point to it as a failure. In other words, no one would likely point to this passage and say “see, the Bible can’t be inspired because this prophecy didn’t come true.” That’s really a conversation for another post. But can the converse be said? Can someone really point to Ezekiel 38:11 and say that modern Israel is its fulfillment? I just don’t see it. I think the fact that Israel uses barriers today, that its safety and security always seem tenuous, and that the context of this passage seems to be talking about something completely unrelated to modern Israel shows that it is a very poor example of prophecy fulfillment.

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137 thoughts on “Cities Without Walls

  1. Just as a reminder, comments on this thread need to remain civil. Feel free to disagree with something I’ve said, but please refrain from assigning motivations to me (or anyone else here). Simply say what you have to say, and remain respectful and courteous while saying it.

    Thanks in advance. 🙂

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  2. “It turns out that Israel actually does use walls today. The West Bank barrier will eventually be about 430 miles long. It’s still being constructed, but as of 2012 it was already 272 miles long”

    Oh Nate. Poor try here. You’ve already cited in previous posts that you know that the barrier is mostly fence not wall. Second the expression “unwalled villages” is precise. it refers not to the existence of any kind of wall ( or there would be no houses for them to live in since those use walls too) but to defensive city walls surrounding an area. The passage is clear and unambiguous that what is being referred to is city walls that surround a city for protection. Its what the text says and is the natural reading which anyone reading it at the time would have taken it

    “Most of the barrier is a fence. While that’s not exactly the same as a wall, it serves the same basic purpose.”

    It most definitely does not. A city wall in Ezekiel’s time would totally surround a city NOT stretch out into open uninhabited space so as to give it protection from attack from all sides particularly since the context is an attack from the north form a foreign country. You are fudging The west bank barrier as the very name implies does no such thing. there is not a wall with bars and gates surrounding ANY city of Israel as such things are no longer needed for protection since the advent of air craft and tanks.

    Worse for you the Hebrew word Homah is unambiguous in the Old testament and refers almost everywhere to walls surrounding a city, As you can see here it comes from a root meaning surround

    http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=H02346&t=KJV

    ” Plus it uses “bars and gates,” which runs counter to Ezekiel’s prophecy.”

    Again NO these refer to gates/ wide doors with bolts on them as in city gates as absolutely anyone reading Ezekiel would apply it to and again the West bank barrier does not surround protecting any city in Israel exactly as the prophecy states.

    ” And some portions of the barrier are indeed tall concrete walls, as shown in these pictures.”

    and there are countless pictures you left out of the barrier mostly made up of – fence

    but as usual when you refer to pictures you leave out the ones that weaken your case

    Sorry there is no requirement that walls can exist nowhere in Israel or again they could have no buildings. Unwalled villages contrasted with city walls is a clear, natural and demanded meaning of the words there and the prophecy is without a doubt fulfilled. Further more the entire Gaza barrier is temporary and subject to be taken down at any time there is a peace accord.

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  3. “However, they also predicted that the 10 lost tribes would one day return from captivity. This hasn’t happened.”

    and where is this reference to 10 tribes being lost in the Bible Nate? a link to wikipedia? again?

    “Notice that the end of that passage focuses on Israel’s faithfulness to God. Yet that certainly doesn’t match modern Israel. Like most modern nations, its not homogeneous in its religious views. To me, this is one of the first clues that Ezekiel is not talking about today’s Israel.’

    If only you actually read the Bible. Earlier in Ezekiel God makes it clear that he would save them for HIS sake not on the basis of their righteousness. Worse the same passage makes it abundantly clear that this state is not achieved until AFTER the battle with Gog

    Ezekiel 39:7 (KJV)
    7 So will I make my holy name known in the midst of my people Israel; and I will not let them pollute my holy name any more: and the heathen shall know that I am the LORD, the Holy One in Israel.

    Parallel passages are found in Joel, Zechariah and Revelations where it is Christ that intervenes at his second coming. You seem totally oblivious to this context.

    ” In verses 26 and 27, it says that God’s sanctuary will be in their midst as well”

    Yes of course but again if you read the bible you would know this is post that battle with Gog

    ” Gog and the other terms are likely being used figuratively in this passage,”

    this is nonsense. If this were an unfulfilled prophecy you would be no doubt citing any use of figurative as a cop out to get out of the passage being unfulfilled. The nations mentioned are all real and in fact a great many of them presently have alliances with Russia – the most likely candidate for Rosh

    “To me, this does not seem like Ezekiel cares too much about whether the villages literally have walls or not. ”

    He just uses all the words regarding city walls that surround cities in his day for kicks and giggles?

    “The point seems to be that Israel will be living in peace and not have any idea that some horrible force might be amassing against them.”

    Actually theres no such requirement from the word Betah it refers to confidence and is even used in reference to acts of war. The idea here is NOT that Israel will think it has no enemies

    “I suppose language like this could be viewed figuratively, but I find it a bit striking that this language is so obviously suited for the warfare and way of life of Ezekiel’s time, yet some claim that he foresaw a future in which walls would not be needed for cities? If he could foresee that, why wouldn’t he have foreseen technological advances as well?”

    Well first off Your impression of prophecy is terribly off. Ezekiel is not required to see anything. Thats not how prophecy works. You write down what God tells you to write down – a vision and a prophecy are two different things,Second the battle itself is obviously still future and again if you actually read the BIble you would know this comes at the end of a cataclysmic time for the world where the world is pretty much set back some would say to the stone age and God calls for those who hate him to find any weapon they can and come and fight (the ultimate rebellion against God)

    Joel 3:10-11 (KJV)
    10 Beat your plowshares into swords, and your pruninghooks into spears: let the weak say, I am strong.
    11 Assemble yourselves, and come, all ye heathen, and gather yourselves together round about: thither cause thy mighty ones to come down, O LORD.

    So regardless of technology there would be those with those easily made weapons after cataclysmic world events coming to battle God. Thirdly Ezekiel has no word for “gun” or “tank” in his day so he uses what he has. As for using wood to keep warm. I have lived in Florida where a single storm wipe out electricity for a week or two and most people who lie in cities are totally oblivious that people out in the country still use wood for heating.

    finally there IS suggestion in revelations, in regard to this same time, of weapons being available NOT available in Biblical days.

    Revelation 9:17-19 (KJV)
    17 And thus I saw the horses in the vision, and them that sat on them, having breastplates of fire, and of jacinth, and brimstone: and the heads of the horses were as the heads of lions; and out of their mouths issued fire and smoke and brimstone.
    18 By these three was the third part of men killed, by the fire, and by the smoke, and by the brimstone, which issued out of their mouths.
    19 For their power is in their mouth, and in their tails: for their tails were like unto serpents, and had heads, and with them they do hurt.

    This passage has given older commentaries fits because there was nothing on the planet that men rode upon that had brimstone coming out of its mouth and tails that could do harm like modern day tanks. Many were forced to consider it demonic (which never meant sense since that many demons would decimate the entire planet, only four were mentioned as being involved and they don’t kill with real smoke and fire) but today we can easily see it as a reference to tanks.

    Long post so I will finish up my rebuttal in another post.

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  4. @ Nate:

    I suggest you add a “Comment Policy” tab to your blog. There you can make clear your desires for civility in the comments and your intent to enforce this. Then, in each post, you can can something like “See my comment policy tab, the policy is always enforced on this blog. Keep it civil, folks!”

    Of that tab, you could give numbered examples so as to direct readers of the infringement when you delete or censor their violations. I’m sure you’ve seen examples — my blog does this too, btw. I don’t have to use it much, the offenders and those who live to be uncivil no longer visit.

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  5. @ Nate,
    I had not known about this prophecy claim (I must have been a bad Christian). But I must agree with TBlacksman objection to your Wall theory in the first part of your argument. It seemed clear to me when I read your post that your argument was wrong and reaching — and I hadn’t even read TBlacksman’s objection yet. And you know that I care less whether the “prophecy” is accurate or not. But I love the Sunday School lesson – so thanks. I’ve always loved arguing with Sunday School teachers! 🙂

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  6. The problem with prophecies is that they are often ambiguous – using language that can be interpreted in several ways by the reader.
    We have examples of this across all forms of religious text.

    Analysis, therefore, eventually becomes a pointless exercise as a fundamentalist will take a more literal view, when it suits, but call on analogy and metaphor when it does does not.
    Context is king on the one hand – and meaningless on the other.

    The bible is riddled with contradictions that are enough to baffle even the most patient scholar, so one is left to simply cherry-pick and apply such ‘fruit ‘ as one deems fit – not something one would expect from an all-knowing god that had the best interests of its creation at heart.

    Justification of such twaddle has been crucial for the believer, but the intelligent observer has come to accept that whatever is written in such ‘books’ can be regarded with the occasional benign smile and little more.

    Such literary nonsense plays little or no part in the everyday lives of most people and it is generally only fanatics/fundamentalists clinging to delusion that will call upon such trivia to add meaning to their life.

    In fact, even entertaining such fundamentalist people is demeaning. They should be pitied.
    But where their ridiculous intransigence threatens to intrude on the lives of normal people it deserves to be legislated against.

    In the final analysis, religion will eventually play little part in the lives of most people – a trend that is glaringly apparent in the more enlightened areas of society.

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  7. Another suggestion Nate, put a “Contact Me” tab. I looked for a way to write you a private note, but couldn’t. I had thought you’d commented on my blog, but I guess you haven’t, so I could not look up your email there. I wanted to send you a private e-mail illustrating the pugilist, unproductive comment rhetoric of some of your commentors if they show up, but did not want to do it here.
    Anyway, just a thought.

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  8. archaeopteryx1

    However, they also predicted that the 10 lost tribes would one day return from captivity. This hasn’t happened.” – well, OF COURSE not! Everyone knows they sailed to the America and became Indians! Silly man, just ask the Mormons.

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  9. “I feel that these 3 chapters paint a very clear picture. Ezekiel still believed that the 10 tribes of Israel would one day come back. ”

    I don’t know where you have been nate but Jews have been returning to Israel from
    all over the world even some african tribes. This lost ten tribe thing you are harping on
    is not in the Bible. There is no prophecy about a lost tribe of Israel being found just of jews returning to the homeland from all over the world as they most definitely have. Prophetically there is no more Israel and Judah. You only show again you don’t do good research because your claim for the ten tribes is contradicted by Ezekiel saying earlier that the division of judah
    and the northern tribe is obliterated in the last days. Any reference to Israel is to the
    whole of Israel

    Ezekiel 39:25 (KJV)
    25 Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Now will I bring again the captivity of Jacob,
    and have mercy upon the whole house of Israel, and will be jealous for my holy name;

    ” But even if he meant something else, there’s really no indication that he was imagining anything like the Israel of today.”

    If wishes were horses beggars would ride. Your idea of the perfection of righteousness
    that Israel should have has been shown to be TOTALLY unbiblical. Ezekiel, Zechariah,
    revelations and a number of other passages make it very clear israel must return to
    their nation BEFORE Messiah would be their king or they would be totally righteous. Thats exactly the Israel we see today. No one is claiming Christ has returned yet. Your fallacious
    understanding of Bible prophecy would have Israel not need its messiah to fulfill many
    prophecies in that regard. That violates both Judaism and Christianity

    “Since Ezekiel gave no timeline for his prophecy, it’s hard to point to it as a failure.”

    About the only thing you have right about that is that even you can’t muster a non
    fulfillment yet out of that passage (but I have some confidence you might in fact try
    at a later date). Everything else is distortion. there IS a timeline to that prophecy. Obviously it must be after Israel returns as a nation. second the passage states the latter days is the time line which would probably require more study than you are willing to do but lines up well
    with Israel becoming a nation and The roman empire coalescing (yes I know the beg of
    skeptics regarding medes and persians for daniel but it doesn’t work and even
    Revelations contradict it) so the no timeline thing is utterly false.

    ” I think the fact that Israel uses barriers today, that its safety and security always seem tenuous, and that the context of this passage seems to be talking about something completely unrelated to modern Israel shows that it is a very poor example of prophecy fulfillment.”

    Did anyone ever doubt that you would conclude that? You’ve stated that there are no fulfilled prophecies whatsoever in the Bible so of course you have to fudge,beg and twist that Israel returning as a nation in direct fulfillment of Bible prophecy isn’t the nation that is prophecied.

    Its almost like Arch’s mount precipice claim that its 16 miles beyond where every map shows it being. Full on out and out denial of the facts. The “Oh israel is a nation again but well….its not really Israel” defense.

    These facts are not capable of your logical contradiction –

    They are there in the land as prophecied after a very long time.

    They are the most dominant Military power in the area as prophecied (actually demanded
    in the law)

    They retook Jerusalem under a set of circumstance similar to Ezekiel 12’s prophecy.

    Their formerly parched land has become reknowned for its produce (a prophecy also
    in Ezekiel)

    They ARE a land of unwalled villages without city walls surrounding their cities (your
    beg for fences being walls not withstanding)

    They are confident in their ability to protect themselves (the meaning of the
    phrase to dwell safely)

    There are a host of other bible passages in regard to their return that have been
    fulfilled as well

    So your feelings have little to do with anything and the passage is a great example
    of a fulfilled prophecy despite your claims to the contrary.

    In regard to your claims of the temporary west bank barrier I need only say further
    That absolutely no one in ezekiel’s day would have envisioned city walls referring
    to a mostly fenced structure stretching out into uninhabited areas. You might as well
    claim that any school or complex with a fence is a walled city. All, every last
    reader of Ezekiel, would have seen it as referring to a city surrounded (as the word
    root implies) by walls on all sides for its protection. Therefore how they would have
    taken it is totally fulfilled by cities in israel not being surrounded by such walls.

    Besides….a 95% fence barrier as a city fortified WALLS

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Israeli_West_Bank_barrier

    will forever be a desperate beg. Even worse since it protects no particular city but
    locks a people (palestinians) into their area (which Internationally is not accepted as Israel proper).

    You tried this fence as a wall argument before and it didn’t work. Not showing
    pictures of what 95% of the barrier is made up of was supposed to make your
    assertion its a city wall fly? epic fail if truth was the goal. if slanting the reality of the look of the fence was the goal? meh I guess passable.

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  10. archaeopteryx1

    Ark, RE: “an all-knowing god that had the best interests of its creation at heart.” – I’m not seeing anywhere in the Bible that this alleged entity ever had “the best interests of its creation at heart” – it was always about his own glory, worst case of inferiority complex I’ve ever seen.

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  11. william

    Well, if this is just a case of a prophecy that hasn’t been fulfilled yet, then I guess we’ll just have to wait and see. Since there is no timeline given, perhaps it will be another few thousand years before Israel is completely without walls or need of weapons. Perhaps all of israel will convert to the true version on Christianity and be ruled by a descendant of david.

    I would agree with nate, i’s just not fulfilled yet.

    Israel is building their borders, walls and fences to protect their settlements, but if it is true that it is reaching to say so, I still maintain that it is reaching to say it’s fulfilled.

    A prophecy that lacks detailed specifics and detailed timelines and that are “fulfilled” through what appear to be naturally occurring means, then it seems such a prophecy only serves to be for those who already believe and are not meant to convince the non-believer.

    If this is the case, it should not be a surprise when non-believers are not convinced.

    If you wanted to convince someone that a prophecy was truly from god, it would be helpful to make it as detailed and as convincing as possible – precise timeline, exact and literal event details – if not having god just let everyone know he was real, and this or that were his prophecies…

    Anyhow, as an aside, it strikes me that some believers will often cite their reason as evidence that god and the bible are real, “it makes more sense…” “we can see…” phrases used in regard to logical steps in morality or justice as the bible shows it, but then, when ever something comes up that seems counter to reason they’ll usually fall back on “we cant understand all of god’s ways,” as if to indicate that reason cannot be trusted.

    I understand that many concepts are difficult and that things aren’t always as black and white as my previous paragraph would indicate, but if we can use reason to justify our religion, then why cant it be used to judge it? If we cant trust our reason, then why should good morality or logical conclusions in justice support our religion?

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  12. @Mike (TBlacksman) —

    While your comments have included a few points of substance, they all still included the same kinds of derogatory comments that I have allowed on the “Kathy” posts, but have asked to have excluded from all others.

    If you disagree with someone’s position, please find a way to say so without criticizing their level of understanding, level of study, level of education, motivations, etc. Just so we’re clear, here are some of the phrases you’ve used that I find unacceptable:

    Oh Nate. Poor try here.

    You are fudging

    Worse for you

    but as usual when you

    If only you actually read the Bible.

    You seem totally oblivious to this context.

    but again if you read the bible you would know

    this is nonsense.

    if you actually read the BIble you would know

    I don’t know where you have been nate but

    About the only thing you have right about that is that even you can’t muster a non fulfillment yet out of that passage (but I have some confidence you might in fact try at a later date).

    probably require more study than you are willing to do

    Did anyone ever doubt that you would conclude that? You’ve stated that there are no fulfilled prophecies whatsoever in the Bible so of course you have to fudge,beg and twist

    Full on out and out denial of the facts.

    To everyone else:

    Please remember to remain courteous in your comments. I’m primarily concerned with eradicating personal attacks, but would also like to avoid mocking other points of view, even if they seem mock-worthy. Let’s just keep things civil.

    And thanks for the comments.

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  13. I should add for those that have never looked at a map or understand the west bank situation – It is disputed land beween Israel and Jordan. It is not internationally accepted as a part of Israel (You’ll hear people refer to it and other places as the occupied territory) and Israel for the most part has complied with its disputed status (Many polls have indicated Israelis are in favor of a palestinian state. the purpose of the barrier is to contain that area not officially recognized as israel.

    Again as the Wikiedia source that Nate originally linked to confirms 95% of it is a fence not a wall, it surrounds no city in Israel and its purpose is to keep Palestinians in their area not protect any individual city as city walls do.

    I should also add that Nate’s claim that Israel must be totally righteous in good standing with God both ignores the bible prophecies of this interim process and is just another way of making his previous claim that unless all prophecies are fulfilled none of them are. its special pleading that alot of skeptics like when they can’t logically dismantle a fulfilled prophecy but it is not logically tenable as most all or nothing claims are.

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  14. @Nate
    With the appearance of Mike and Kathy ( and it is disappointing we don’t seem to have the ”regular ” bunch of believers any more) the tone has been set.
    Very much an Us and Them.

    I believe a post of this nature, which is long and complicated, sadly leaves it wide open for someone like Mike to rubbish with his usual invective.

    To engage a person of Mike’s fundamental background – and all that encompasses – perhaps it might be better to make the posts more narrowly focused, with less wriggle room for fundamentalist interpretation?

    It might also limit the opportunity to go off on tangents.

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  15. @Mike,

    “I should also add that Nate’s claim that Israel must be totally righteous in good standing with God both ignores the bible prophecies of this interim process and is just another way of making his previous claim that unless all prophecies are fulfilled none of them are.”

    I’m probably revealing too much ignorance here, but what the hay: Is this prophecy that runs from Ezekiel 37 through Ezekiel 39 (just sticking with the part Nate has addressed) not all part of one big prophecy? So that fragments within the text are prophecies within themselves? And we’re calling it fulfilled?

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  16. It’s special pleading….

    And yet a fundamentalist will balk at such a suggestion regarding the Virgin Birth nonsense?

    I think it might be better if we refer this to a non-Christian who is more qualified in Hebrew and has a much better understanding of the Old Testament.

    outreachjudaism.org/alma-virgin/

    If one prophecy is obviously fallacious why should one give any credence to others in a book said to have been the inspired word of a god?

    In short…one shouldn’t.

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  17. “If you disagree with someone’s position, please find a way to say so without criticizing their level of understanding, level of study, level of education, motivations, etc. ”

    Nate as I have told you before do whatever you wish it will not phase me but as I knew and you have now proven you mean that rule to apply Only to Christians on your blog especially when the dismantle your claims. You as expected skipped right over Arks post to get to mine because it suits you. What are these? your idea of respecting other points of views from Ark?

    “view, when it suits”

    “Justification of such twaddle”

    “simply cherry-pick”

    “Such literary nonsense”

    ” only fanatics/fundamentalists clinging to delusion”

    “In fact, even entertaining such fundamentalist people is demeaning.”

    ” They should be pitied.”

    ” their ridiculous intransigence ”

    Far far more strong language than saying “if you read the Bible” but you gloss over his post in a bee line to the Christian that most disputes you on your blog. Who are we kidding here?

    You can find anything you want unacceptable but your blog is full of posters and post that you approve, conveniently ignore or even post yourself that violate what you claim is unacceptable. Same old game.

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  18. Hi Nate,

    I just want to make sure I’m doing my share in making sure my own comments are in line, because frankly I think this is a great choice you are making in trying to make things civil. And in my mind It is a very welcome and necessary move.

    So with that in mind, if I say something like “that interpretation looks like too much of a twist for me”, is that beyond the line? I’m concerned I guess that the it will be hard to really figure out where the line actually is, and I’m also concerned that some will toy with that line until things end up escalating slowly kind of like a frog in boiling water (I’m guessing you’ve heard of that analogy). What are your thoughts on this?

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  19. “I’m probably revealing too much ignorance here, but what the hay: Is this prophecy that runs from Ezekiel 37 through Ezekiel 39 (just sticking with the part Nate has addressed) not all part of one big prophecy? So that fragments within the text are prophecies within themselves? And we’re calling it fulfilled?”

    37 to 39 contains many prophecies (different things happening) as almost every prophetic passage in the Bible does. IF you conflate all the different components to it as one big Prophecy then you can just claim that the Bible has one big prophecy of God becoming the kind of the of the world. So you would be back to unless everything is fulfilled nothing is which wouldn’t be a very intellectual honest way of evaluating the probabilities.

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  20. “And yet a fundamentalist will balk at such a suggestion regarding the Virgin Birth nonsense? ”

    You’ve proven no such “nonsense” “twaddle” or anything else you call it in regard to the virgin birth what you have displayed is that you do not understand that Isaiah’s children were for signs because yes you probably have not read the Bible very well.

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  21. IF you conflate all the different components to it as one big Prophecy then you can just claim that the Bible has one big prophecy of God becoming the kind of the of the world. So you would be back to unless everything is fulfilled nothing is which wouldn’t be a very intellectual honest way of evaluating the probabilities.

    I see where you’re coming from on that but I disagree with the conclusion. The Bible clearly contains several different prophecies and, yes, one big prophecy as some would assert that Genesis is prophetical of the Messiah. But it also seems an intellectually dishonest way of evaluating probabilities if we can take a block of text and carve out a sentence here and a few there and proclaim them fulfillment of prophecy when other prophecies are clearly connected that are not. That makes it pretty ambiguous.

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  22. Mike,

    Ark’s comments were not aimed directly at you. Yes, I did see those phrases, and I’m not a fan of them (though his overall comment is something I agree with). And that’s why I reminded everyone again to avoid those kinds of statements, even when they’re made generally as opposed to directed squarely at an individual.

    You, however, make insulting comments about specific individuals, and I’m tired of it. Despite what I said in my last post and despite the opening comment I made here, you apparently made no effort to adjust your tone.

    In some ways, I worry that you’re trying to get me to ban you, because I think you’ve also gotten tired of the conversations here and being banned would be an easy way out. But even if that is your motivation, I really don’t care anymore. I don’t like banning people, and I don’t like having to discuss proper blog etiquette, but I’m determined to move the blog back into a less hostile environment. If you can’t make that transition, then you can choose to stay on the “Kathy” posts, or you can simply be banned altogether. The choice is up to you.

    I’m not perfect, and I don’t claim to be. I’m trying to be fair in how I administer this, but even if I’m failing in that regard, it doesn’t change what I’m saying to you. This is your final warning.

    Thanks

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  23. @ Nate,

    I have to agree again with TBlacksman.

    It was Ark’s comments that actually inspired my “violation” alert — exactly as TBlacksman elaborated.

    And my experience is that for legitimacy and productiveness, the majority (Atheists here) need to prove their sincerity by policing each other FIRST before seeking after the minority who are also being criticized.

    Admitting our own faults and not being defensive is the first step in civil, productive dialogue, in my humble opinion.

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  24. So with that in mind, if I say something like “that interpretation looks like too much of a twist for me”, is that beyond the line? I’m concerned I guess that the it will be hard to really figure out where the line actually is, and I’m also concerned that some will toy with that line until things end up escalating slowly kind of like a frog in boiling water (I’m guessing you’ve heard of that analogy). What are your thoughts on this?

    Thanks Howie — this is an excellent question.

    I think phrasing it the way you just did would be okay. Basically, this is what I’m after: do not make personal attacks. So if you had said “you’re twisting things” or “you’re twisting things, as always” which seems even more derogatory, I’d say that’s out of line. But when you put the onus of it back on you, by saying “that interpretation seems like too much of a twist to me” you’re still saying the same thing, but it’s softer. It could be that the person you’re talking to twisted things, but it could also be that you’ve misunderstood them. Either seems like a possibility in that latter wording.

    So personal attacks are out (you’re an idiot, just another one of your dodges, if you only knew what you were talking about, if you actually ever studied anything, etc).

    But I also want to stop talking so derogatively about groups in particular: (fundamentalists are either stupid or insane, such beliefs are hogwash, atheists aren’t objective, etc.).

    I’m more concerned with personal attacks than with general statements, but I really don’t find either to be helpful. Again, it’s okay to give our opinions and say where we disagree with one another. Sabio disagreed with my post in this comment, but he did so in a calm, rational, and even kind manner. I have no problem with that.

    Most of you know me well enough by now to know that I’m not going to go nuts in banning people or moderating their comments. I’ve been doing this blog for almost 8 years now, and this has never really been an issue before. I’ll give people plenty of chances as well as the benefit of the doubt. But no one can deny that the tone of the blog has drastically changed over the last couple of months, and I’m ready to reign it back in. Apologies in advance if I mess up along the way.

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  25. @ Nate,

    But I also want to stop talking so derogatively about groups in particular: (fundamentalists are either stupid or insane, such beliefs are hogwash, atheists aren’t objective, etc.).

    I agree with this. I used to believe this hogwash(noted objections notwithstanding) and I don’t think I’m stupid or insane. It does tend to put people on the defensive and some are likely to come out swinging.

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  26. Thanks Sabio.

    In my opinion, TBlacksman, Ark, and Arch have all stepped over the line in this thread already. And it’s a shame, because there are some really substantive things in those posts as well.

    I’d suggest that both Ark and TB avoid addressing one another for a while, as it seems they’re headed toward a pissing contest. Let’s just bypass that altogether.

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  27. And how likely are we to get someone to see our position if we’re so demeaning?

    Revealing bias here: when someone is so demeaning toward me I don’t really evaluate what the have to say objectively. I try to find the reasons they’re wrong. No one likes to be insulted.

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  28. Thanks Nate. I agree, both have great substantial stuff — but easily ignored with that sort of rhetoric. Too bad, because the rhetoric causes loss of the good points and any progress in dialogue.
    BTW, Think about those two tabs I mentioned above, mate!

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  29. “if we can take a block of text and carve out a sentence here and a few there and proclaim them fulfillment of prophecy when other prophecies are clearly connected that are not. That makes it pretty ambiguous.”

    The fact that prophecies are connected in no way means that they are to be all fulfilled at the same time PARTICULARLY when there are prophecies where its stated they are not fulfilled at the same time. This is actually just ignoring interim prophecies in order to invalidate ones that have come to pass. You are acting as if its arbitrary when thats utterly false. Its just a fact of prophecy. first Israel has to come back as a nation, then they have to live without walls and gates then the events of revelation have to take place (one of the key battles alluded to in Ezek 38). to say aha everything has not come to pass when they were never prophecied to come to pass simultaneously is disregarding the nature of prophecy to get to a conclusion that you might want to get to but its not what the text says.

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  30. to say aha everything has not come to pass when they were never prophecied to come to pass simultaneously is disregarding the nature of prophecy to get to a conclusion that you might want to get to but its not what the text says.

    I can see where you got that, but it’s not exactly what I meant. And I do understand that the nature of prophecy in itself means that it might not all come to pass simultaneously. But it does make it a bit more tenuous to say “aha, prophecy is fulfilled” when a good bit of it has not been. That kind of cuts both ways. Because then what you find is that one can never quite prove that it has or hasn’t been.

    Can you show me in this text where it PARTICULARLY states this won’t be fulfilled at the same time? Or do you need other prophecies to interpret this prophecy by?

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  31. “I have to agree again with TBlacksman.

    It was Ark’s comments that actually inspired my “violation” alert — exactly as TBlacksman elaborated.”

    Well heres the thing Sabio and I may or may not get honest answers here but really does anyone believe as Nate is now saying that if in my answer to him I said

    “atheist like to fudge the Bible.”

    “the thing with people who claimed to be Christian is they tend not to have read their bibles very well”

    “former church of Christ members seem oblivious to the context”

    It would mean that I was not specifying NAtea slong as I did not say you? that Nate would not object to it ? Give me a break . We ALL know he would object. The distinction to side step not having taken on Ark is totally ridiculous and Ark made it clear in subsequent posts he had me in mind as EVERY SINGLE regular reader on this blog KNOWS he did.

    Meanwhile do tell. If any of you tell me that I am unaware of certain facts about archaeology that dispute the Bible is nate now going to step in and say you can’t tell me that because it would be no different than his objection to

    “you seem oblivious to the context”?

    Who are we really kidding here? LOL I mean really?

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  32. william

    Mike msy be right, but I still think prophecies that are given in such a way would not be meant to convince the non-believer.

    Again, very detailed specifics including precisely defined timelines, literal and specifc events, etc would go much further to convince the naysayers.

    That doesn’t mean this prophecy is not true, just that I see it as being more for thosr who already believe – and would by consequence mean that it’s not very good evidence in support of the bible’s truthfulness – at least to the non-believers.

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  33. Complaints duly noted. I shall behave.

    [– This section edited to comply with comment policy –]

    Sigh…to the post….

    The major problem with biblical prophecy is it is contained within the covers of a book supposedly inspired by a deity – Yahweh/Jesus of Nazareth – and should not be open to interpretation.
    The terms, ”Er,’ ‘Um’, ‘Maybe’ ‘Oh, all right then’, do not strike me as being in the lexicon of ”God Words”

    Why should one part of the bible be given credence when other parts aren’t?

    If one considers how much of the text is fallacious, including such erroneous examples as the Virgin Birth prophecy, and one or two other unfulfilled escatological turns of phrase, then there is no reason whatsoever to take any of it seriously.

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  34. “Can you show me in this text where it PARTICULARLY states this won’t be fulfilled at the same time? Or do you need other prophecies to interpret this prophecy by?”

    Actually with a basic understanding of the context of Ezekiel it requires nothing else. I have already posted one verse out of Ezek 39 . I’ll post a fuller quote again

    Ezekiel 39:27-29 (KJV)
    27 When I have brought them again from the people, and gathered them out of their enemies’ lands, and am sanctified in them in the sight of many nations;
    28 Then shall they know that I am the LORD their God, which caused them to be led into captivity among the heathen: but I have gathered them unto their own land, and have left none of them any more there.
    29 Neither will I hide my face any more from them: for I have poured out my spirit upon the house of Israel, saith the Lord GOD.

    Its pretty clear there that its after the battle is when Israel gets to the point that they know fully who the Lord is, that only then they have complete revelation. Do other passages illuminate that? why yes and makes it very clear that Nate’s requirement that they be the righteous nation he claims they have to be to fulfill the prophecy does NOT happen before the battle n it not expected to. Claiming that what is not expected from a reading of the passage to happen yet is some knock against what has happened, Israel returning, their farming to be reknown, living withthout walls doesn’t hold any water….unless you wan it to.

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  35. I will add: It is important to appreciate that fundamentalists will approach every biblical argument on the basis that the biblical character, Jesus of Nazareth, was/is a real individual and is also the creator of the universe.
    As it is their belief that their god is perfect and by extension his word ( the bible) is also perfect.
    Thus to acknowledge an opponent’s argument in this regard immediately implies that their god and his word are imperfect and, by extension, fallible. This is an untenable situation for a theist.

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  36. Ezekiel 37 also talks about God reuniting Israel and returning them to the land. He’ll set them up to be his people, and he will be their God. It’s in chapter 38 that God allows Gog to build up armies and come against the unsuspecting and peaceful Israelites, so I think the text is still pretty clear that Israel would inhabit the land and turn to God faithfully before any of the Gog stuff. The passage in Ezek 39 that Mike quoted seems to simply be the summary of everything that happened in the preceding verses.

    One could still claim that these things haven’t all happened yet, but I agree with Ruth that it’s hard to take one facet of it (a questionable one, considering Israel’s current state of security), and say it’s been fulfilled when the rest obviously hasn’t.

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  37. 27 When I have brought them again from the people, and gathered them out of their enemies’ lands, and am sanctified in them in the sight of many nations;
    28 Then shall they know that I am the LORD their God, which caused them to be led into captivity among the heathen: but I have gathered them unto their own land, and have left none of them any more there.
    29 Neither will I hide my face any more from them: for I have poured out my spirit upon the house of Israel, saith the Lord GOD.

    I have more questions:

    Will Yahweh only be sanctified in them after they are all gathered into Israel? When there are no more Jews left that are not in Israel? Is this about race or beliefs? There are gentiles who have converted to Judaism. How many Jews are in captivity in other lands now who are not free to go there at any time now or since WWII?

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  38. Thus to acknowledge an opponent’s argument in this regard immediately implies that their god and his word are imperfect and, by extension, fallible. This is an untenable situation for a theist.

    I think this is true, Ark. It does make it difficult to talk about the issues, because they can’t afford for any statement in the Bible to be inaccurate. This is definitely how I saw it when I was a believer.

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  39. @Ruth

    There’s also the question of what does it mean to turn to God faithfully? Does it mean Judaism, as Ezekiel would have understood it, or does it mean Christianity? And does it have to be a particular version of one of these?

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  40. Does it mean Judaism, as Ezekiel would have understood it, or does it mean Christianity? And does it have to be a particular version of one of these?</i.

    Well, if city walls are to be interpreted the way that Ezekiel and his audience would have understood it….

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  41. This is why I raised the point, as I knew you had been in the same boat. It was probably only once you experienced serious doubt and worked through the ensuing confusion/trauma (?) that you would have been able to look at the bible with any degree of objectivity.
    No doubt, this applies to all deconvetees.

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  42. “The passage in Ezek 39 that Mike quoted seems to simply be the summary of everything that happened in the preceding verses.”

    Sorry Nate . NO can do. That won’t work. The verse that sets up your alleged summary rebuffs it. From that Day forward is not language of a summary

    21 “I will set My glory among the nations; all the nations shall see My judgment which I have executed, and My hand which I have laid on them. 22 So the house of Israel shall know that I am the LORD their God FROM THAT DAY FORWARD
    The New King James Version. (1982). (Eze 39:21–22). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

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  43. “Will Yahweh only be sanctified in them after they are all gathered into Israel?”

    The passage you quoted makes it clear – the sanctification is “in the sight of many nations”

    So yes this has to occur for that to happen

    “There’s also the question of what does it mean to turn to God faithfully? Does it mean Judaism, as Ezekiel would have understood it, or does it mean Christianity? ”

    It means turning to God however he manifests himself at the time to them. Simple.

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  44. “And what day is he referencing, Mike?”

    A) First things first nate. Is that an expression of a summary?
    B) why does the question need be asked when its right there that its the day the nations have the judgement talked about placed?

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  45. I think the passage in Ezek 39 isn’t saying that they’ll discover that Yahweh is the true god for the first time, but that his restoring them and judgment upon Gog’s armies will be further proof of that. I really don’t know any other way to square it with chapters 37 and 38.

    If you feel that they don’t have to turn back to God before Gog’s armies come, how do you explain these verses from chapter 37?

    22 And I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel. And one king shall be king over them all, and they shall be no longer two nations, and no longer divided into two kingdoms. 23 They shall not defile themselves anymore with their idols and their detestable things, or with any of their transgressions. But I will save them from all the backslidings in which they have sinned, and will cleanse them; and they shall be my people, and I will be their God.

    24 “My servant David shall be king over them, and they shall all have one shepherd. They shall walk in my rules and be careful to obey my statutes. 25 They shall dwell in the land that I gave to my servant Jacob, where your fathers lived. They and their children and their children’s children shall dwell there forever, and David my servant shall be their prince forever. 26 I will make a covenant of peace with them. It shall be an everlasting covenant with them. And I will set them in their land and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in their midst forevermore. 27 My dwelling place shall be with them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 28 Then the nations will know that I am the Lord who sanctifies Israel, when my sanctuary is in their midst forevermore.”

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  46. Stupid non productive comment. lets see if you get banned or threatened with it. LOL

    No, Mike, just trying to add a little levity. After all, the bible did feature a talking donkey, yes?

    I am interested, in that case, what sort of manifestation you expect of your god?
    Could you be specific?

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  47. william

    But god could reveal himself as Allah, via the koran, as many do believe – except christisns believe that god has revealed himself through the bible and jesus, so I would assume all jews should be christian – which kind is another question.

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  48. “No, Mike, just trying to add a little levity.”

    You were (badly) attempting mockery and everyone know it though they may cover for you or look the other way

    “I am interested, in that case, what sort of manifestation you expect of your god?
    Could you be specific?”

    Try and keep up Sparky III . Nates question was not about Form but about Christian or Judaic.theologgy

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  49. Try and keep up Sparky III . Nates question was not about Form but about Christian or Judaic.theologgy

    Isn’t, ”Sparky III” a pejorative? I thought this was supposed to have stopped?

    No, no mockery, you appear to take care of that all by yourself.

    I was actually being very serious.
    I really am interested in what form you expect your god to take when this manifestation arrives.
    It is a fascinating subject.
    Do you, in fact, have at least some idea, Mike?

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  50. “Will Yahweh only be sanctified in them after they are all gathered into Israel?”

    The passage you quoted makes it clear – the sanctification is “in the sight of many nations”

    So yes this has to occur for that to happen

    Yes, but:

    Will that be when there are no more Jews left that are not in Israel? Is this about race or beliefs? There are gentiles who have converted to Judaism. And what about Jews who have married and reproduced with other races? Are those children counted as Jews? What about their children?

    How many Jews are in captivity in other lands now who are not free to go there at any time now or since WWII? That passage also implies(not really, it states) that God is bringing the Jews back to Israel out of captivity.

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  51. “Isn’t, ”Sparky III” a pejorative? I thought this was supposed to have stopped?

    No, no mockery, you appear to take care of that all by yourself.

    I was actually being very serious.”

    LOL…. I’ll take it one better. You are full of garbage. You were serious about asking If God would appear as a donkey? Take another bow you dishonest soul 🙂

    and yeah I am fine being banned oir calling you out on such obvious lying. It would be a great way to end my participation with nate showing yet more bias.

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  52. Final warning, Mike. You were pushed a bit, but you need to let it go.

    Ark, I need you to drop it as well. I did’t take your donkey reference to be all that insulting — as you said, it comes from the story of Balaam (Numbers 22). I just want to make sure that you don’t let Mike’s replies to that push you into anything else.

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  53. LOL…. I’ll take it one better. You are full of garbage. You were serious about asking If God would appear as a donkey? Take another bow you dishonest soul 🙂

    and yeah I am fine being banned oir calling you out on such obvious lying. It would be a great way to end my participation with nate showing yet more bias.

    I feel confident that anyone else reading this thread would realise that I was not serious in expecting your god turning up a donkey. Let’s not get tetchy, shall we?

    But I am serious with regard what you think your god will manifest as when he returns.

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  54. “And what about Jews who have married and reproduced with other races? Are those children counted as Jews? What about their children?”

    What???? 🙂 This prophecy must have really got to you What does any of that have to do with whether the passage is fulfilled or not

    “That passage also implies(not really, it states) that God is bringing the Jews back to Israel out of captivity.”

    So? Some Jews are prophecied to go into a very short captivity around the same time

    ” For I will gather all the nations to battle against Jerusalem;
    The city shall be taken,
    The houses rifled,
    And the women ravished.
    Half of the city shall go into captivity,
    But the remnant of the people shall not be cut off from the city.

    The New King James Version. (1982). (Zec 14:2). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.”

    Zechariah BTW is written after the return of the jews to Israel from Babylonian captivity.

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  55. “Ark, I need you to drop it as well. I did’t take your donkey reference to be all that insulting — as you said, it comes from the story of Balaam (Numbers 22)”

    Oh please it was mockery. The passage says nothing about God becoming a donkey. Your bias is on display again.

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  56. ” feel confident that anyone else reading this thread would realise that I was not serious in expecting your god turning up a donkey. Let’s not get tetchy, shall we?”

    I didn;t say it was. Mockery is not serious thats the point

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  57. Oh please it was mockery. The passage says nothing about God becoming a donkey. Your bias is on display again.

    You may feel that it was mockery, and you may feel that I am biased. But there are better ways of stating how you feel that would be more in keeping with the comment policy I’m trying to establish. Why don’t you unsubscribe from this thread and just follow along with the “Kathy” posts? The conversations there seem to be more in keeping with your tone.

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  58. ” feel confident that anyone else reading this thread would realise that I was not serious in expecting your god turning up a donkey. Let’s not get tetchy, shall we?”

    I didn;t say it was. Mockery is not serious thats the point,

    No problem. Glad we have cleared that up.
    Now, to the point at hand. What do you think your god will manifest as when he returns, Mike?

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  59. The thing about Ark’s donkey comment is actually a great example.

    He posted his comment — maybe he meant it as a dig, maybe he didn’t. You took it that way and said something about it. At that point, Ark said that he didn’t mean it as mockery. Once he does that, all you can do is let it go. You can say, “okay, thanks for clearing that up.” Or even, “well, it really came off that way to me, but maybe I just misunderstood.”

    And from there, you just move on with the actual points, instead of insisting that the other person meant a particular thing. Maybe they did; maybe they didn’t. But what good does it do to hash it out over and over?

    So again, please stay focused on substance from this point forward.

    Thanks

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  60. “And what about Jews who have married and reproduced with other races? Are those children counted as Jews? What about their children?”

    What???? 🙂 This prophecy must have really got to you What does any of that have to do with whether the passage is fulfilled or not

    No, it relates to this:

    Will that be when there are no more Jews left that are not in Israel? Does that passage mean the Yahweh is going to gather all the Jews to Israel? Which is a question about this particular verse:

    28 Then shall they know that I am the LORD their God, which caused them to be led into captivity among the heathen: but I have gathered them unto their own land, and have left none of them any more there.

    Then you said about the Jews being in captivity:

    So? Some Jews are prophecied to go into a very short captivity around the same time

    This is one of those parts that hasn’t happened, yet, then? And one you need another prophecy to interpret?

    How would Ezekiel’s audience have understood this? They didn’t have Zechariah to interpret it by.

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  61. @ Nate

    (1) Embarrassingly, I really didn’t know much about that wall around the West Bank. So I enjoyed the pics and the background.
    But do you agree now that they don’t really support your protests.
    They may be one of the weakest sides of your objections.
    Your other points, though I think carry merit.

    (2) Looks like you and T agree that the prophecy is not yet fulfilled or even about to be fulfilled — right?

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  62. “You may feel that it was mockery”

    NO objective person would take “will your God Manifest as a donkey?” anyone other way. LOl…thats HILARIOUS. You are kidding no one Nate. Especially on this post you would love me gone for completely other reasons since you are not really making any headway on its claim. Its simple – reign in the kind of mockery you CLAIMED to be detesting and we would not be having this back and forth on this

    Be honest and unbiased (or even honest about your bias) and we have no issue. Want to ban because you want to make up excuses and exceptions to your alleged policy hey! like I said and meant i would be QUITE fine going out on something so OBVIOUSLY biased. Badge of honor actually (and yes Tired of the hypocrisy so theres that benefit as well)

    Just make sure afterwards to make sure no one refers to MA Blacksman or any derivative of my name or in anyway that can be traced back to me .Common decency character slander kind of thing. If they don’t like I have said before its not possible to ban anyone on the internet. – too many email addresses and IPs available very easily. I would be obliged to respond to slander and it will just make more work for you.

    Shame you have to be so biased (twice now in one thread with Sabio even agreeing with me on the first flimsy excuse)while claiming to be instituting a new alleged fair policy but its not the first time what you say is completely different than what you practice. Don’t want it to be a derogatory mocking zone then step up to the plate and make it so for both sides not do your usual game of pretending.

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  63. “(2) Looks like you and T agree that the prophecy is not yet fulfilled or even about to be fulfilled — right?”

    all the prophecies were never claimed to have been fulfilled and the passage as well as others prophecy an interim period

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  64. Hey Sabio,

    The point about the wall is something that I think can be seen either way. I think it depends on how literal one is being. Does Israel today use walls in the same way that a village would have in Ezekiel’s time? No. Nor are they made of the same materials.

    However, Ezekiel lived in a time when it would have been very difficult and impractical to wall off a nation. Instead, they were kind of forced to limit it to towns. Plus, city-states were more common back then as well. Regardless, the purpose of a city’s walls were to keep it safe. So I think Ezekiel isn’t so much talking about masonry walls as he is talking about safety and security. Walls aren’t needed if there are no threats. And I think the context of the prophecy helps indicate that that was his focus.

    But even if we want to be more literal than it just meaning “safety and security,” I do think the use of barriers in Israel today creates problems for this verse. The building materials have changed, but the barriers in Israel today serve the same purpose as walls in Ezekiel’s time — they protect those inside the walls and keep enemies out. That’s exactly what Israel uses its walls for today.

    Sorry, I can’t seem to answer anything with brevity. 🙂 Anyway, I think if we examine the context of the passage, it doesn’t fit modern Israel. I also think if we look at the intent of 38:11, it still doesn’t match modern Israel, since they do still use fortifications. But if someone wants to insist that Ezekiel only meant masonry walls that surrounded individual villages, then I would agree that Israel doesn’t seem to use those today.

    Incidentally, I also agree that it wasn’t the strongest part of my argument.

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  65. Fine, Mike. You finally get your wish. I’ll let everyone on the Kathy thread know that you’re gone. I can’t guarantee that no one will reference you from this point on — you’ve made quite the impression. But I’ll pass along your request. If anyone refers to you in a way that violates the policy I’m going for, then they’ll get the same warnings (and eventual banning) that you’ve earned. If you come back over and over under different emails and IPs, I guess that’s a game we can play. But I’ll eventually realize it’s you and just ban you all over again. We both have better things to do.

    Good luck to you.

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  66. “This is one of those parts that hasn’t happened, yet, then? And one you need another prophecy to interpret?

    How would Ezekiel’s audience have understood this? They didn’t have Zechariah to interpret it by.”

    trying to dodge what the BIble as a whole teaches on subjects is really a poor technique to avoid what it teaches. We could get into much more detail of context if I am around but since I won’t oblige hypocrisy I am fine with that not being something that happens. Exzekiel’s audience would be fine with the passage and understanding it. It doesn’t stop God adding details of what he would do later. As it is theres nothing inaccurate about Ezekel saying captivity and none of them would think it odd.

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  67. NO objective person would take “will your God Manifest as a donkey?” anyone other way. LOl…thats HILARIOUS.

    Mike, it was a bit of fun. I didn’t realise you would be so touchy about it. Let’s not derail the post, shall we?

    If it makes you feel better I could apologise?

    In the interim, please, I’d like to know, how do you think your god will manifest when he returns?

    You do believe he will return at some point, so how do you think will he appear?

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  68. ” If you come back over and over under different emails and IPs, I guess that’s a game we can play. But I’ll eventually realize it’s you and just ban you all over again. We both have better things to do.”

    Honor my request and I see no issues

    Like

  69. archaeopteryx1

    I think it needs to be realized that Zeke was one of the exiles deported to Babylon in 597 by Nebuchadnezzar. His “prophecies” represented his hopes for a restored Israel, and his last eight chapters were a utopian vision of the Israel of his future – even his “‘dem bones” vision of 37 expressed a firm belief in a forthcoming (in his time) restoration.
    No prophecy, just wishful thinking.

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  70. Ruth,

    I think your questions are right-on. In my bible-reading days (and even since then), I always felt that God was speaking to the Jewish people throughout the OT. Any promises or threats were directed to “his” people. But, as you asked, in today’s world does this apply to only those who are true “Jews” (by race) or to those who are, perhaps, only “half-Jewish” because of intermarriages.

    This is just one of the reasons why I find it difficult to accept various bible interpretations. Everything within its pages was written for certain people who lived during a certain time. When we try to interject modern-day thinking into the events and words of age-old scriptures, we frequently misconstrue the actual meaning/message the original writer was trying to convey.

    I also feel it’s stretching the point when believers try to claim the cryptic images and events described throughout the bible (especially in Revelations) are relevant in today’s world. It was not at all uncommon for the writers to use imagery to emphasize their message. But when we try to interpret it so as to “make sense” to us today, it’s really about forcing the scripture to fit our preconceived beliefs.

    This could be said related to the “walls” and “fences.” I think we need to look at the reason Ezekiel was writing his message. IMO, he was talking about protection. If we look at it from that perspective, does it really matter whether it’s walls … or fences?

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  71. It’s official, folks. Mike is now gone. This is part of the comment I left on the current “Kathy” post:

    Seeing as he won’t be here to defend himself any longer, I’d ask that everyone refrain from making any further derogatory comments about him or his positions. If you’d like to discuss some of his points that dealt with things of substance, feel free — just please leave off any personal commentary.

    We can now carry on with the conversation.

    Thanks, and sorry for the disruption.

    Like

  72. archaeopteryx1

    Nate, I just saw this:
    In my opinion, TBlacksman, Ark, and Arch have all stepped over the line in this thread already.” – At the point of this comment, Nate, I had made one – count ’em, one – comment in which I called you a “silly man” in jest, stating, again, jokingly, that you didn’t realize that the “ten lost tribes” of Israel had built boats and sailed to the Americas to become Indians. At that point, that was the ONLY comment I had made on this thread, which really doesn’t hold my interest. I fail to see how that “stepped over the line.”

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  73. I’ve gone back and re-read your comment, and I think you’re right that it wasn’t very fair of me to include you in that group. Your comment was a dig against Mormons, but it wasn’t a bad one. I was being hyper vigilant at the time because of how things were going with Mike.

    Sorry about that.

    Like

  74. Ron

    I honestly fail to see how Ezekiel 38 contains fulfilled prophecy. Who still conducts a ground war with horsemen and swords to plunder livestock in an era of long range missiles and stealth bombers? Had Zeke mentioned drones, Tomahawks, Cobras and F-16s being used to secure oil fields and fissile materials, I might take notice. To me, the prophecy fails precisely for what it doesn’t mention.

    Like

  75. @ william,
    The cities in Israel are not walled — instead, one border with the West Bank. Certainly, compared to old days, Israel is now “the land of unwalled villages”.
    So Nate was trying to say, “No, no, look there is a wall!”
    That appears a desperate stretch — very desperate.
    Look, I don’t believe in prophecy at all, be they Ezekiel’s or anyone elses.
    But we have so many good argumentations, we should not throw up our desperate ones.
    Just because those who argue FOR these prophecies use desperate stretching, fuzzy arguments, should not tempt us to do the same.
    It is as if we are craving for as much solid proof they are wrong, as the opponents want to show that they are obviously right.
    They are fuzzy, vague and thus open to all this stretched interpretations.

    Actually, it is exactly fuzziness that makes astrological predictions so satisfactory to many folks.

    Even the I-Ching (I wrote about here), has that quality.
    Fortune Tellers and Prophets no how to do their stuff — keep it fuzzy or do hot or cold reads.

    Thanx for asking, william. I hope I answered your question.
    Too bad I can’t click on your name to learn anything about you (as you can for me).
    Please consider this post.

    Like

  76. william

    Ron, I agree with you. In order for this to be “fulfilled” in modern day, you’d have to say that Zeke was speaking literally about walls, but figuratively about everything else. If you can arbitrarily pick and choose when something is literal and when something is literal to match current affairs, then it wasnt a very good prophecy in my mind.

    And maybe it is all true, but it was written for the believer and not for purpose of convincing the non-believer… but if that was the case, it shouldn’t be used as evidence for fulfilled prophecy.

    Like

  77. Wow, that is an idea. Instead of just scolding, chastizing and instructing the habitual, reflexive offenders, I have a suggestion for Nate.
    Make some badges ! Awards showing “great tact”, “informative & respectful” or more.
    Nate could open up a comment, and put the little .png file right next to the comment section.

    Just think Arch, Ark, Mike and more of you then could compete for awards.
    Oh yes, a obvious fake rhetoric would be deleted.
    Ah, what fun it is to think of sites without the ………. (I’m afraid to say it) 😉

    Like

  78. archaeopteryx1

    You couldn’t possibly know, Sabio – ya had to be there – but Ark and I have had a running joke going for the past year, since he got us both kicked off a Christian website – the little girl said she hated to have to include me, because I was the “good one,” but we both had to go. There is NO animosity between the Ark and myself, believe me – except he talks funny.

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  79. My take on Ezekiel 38:11 is a little bit different and I’m curious to hear what others think.

    When I read the passage and verse a few weeks ago I thought that it sounded like it was saying that the evil plan of verse 10 would be to take the easier attack plan of unwalled villages rather than the typical strategy of going after the big walled cities. Verse 11 says “the land of unwalled villages” which sounded to me like “a place that has a lot of unwalled villages”. But it’s true that a lot of the bigger cities in ancient Israel had walls around them, so I wasn’t sure if there were unwalled villages, let alone a significant amount.

    But a little searching seems to confirm my suspicion. While not a strong point, Leviticus 25:31 talks about villages without walls around them at least confirming that there was such a thing back then. More to the point, this document seems to have a lot of information that confirms this viewpoint:

    http://discoverarchive.vanderbilt.edu/bitstream/handle/1803/3793/Village%20Law%20and%20the%20Book%20of%20the%20Covenant.pdf?sequence=1

    most especially pages 168-169.

    Here’s some quotes that most definitely apply here:

    villages in remarkable number were distributed throughout many regions of the land beginning early in the Iron I period and stretching down to the Greco-Roman period and beyond.

    village life on the whole thrived unabated throughout the millennium even though individual villages disappeared and emerged with some frequency. To a great extent, these hamlets are the unseen and unsung actors in Israel’s history.

    The Iron I age saw a dramatic increase in the number of villages in the highland region, from ca. 30 villages in 1200 BCE to over 250 by the year 1000. Significant numbers have been identified in other regions of the country. On average, there was an increase of approximately eight times the number of villages known from the end of the Late Bronze period.

    In the traditional tribal territory of Ephraim alone, the number of villages nearly doubled in the course of Iron II, and at the same time their average size increased as well.

    living in villages remained the option most exercised by Israelites throughout the people’s entire history. War wreaked the greatest havoc on larger cities, while villages-though vastly less defensible-were as a group more likely to survive the invasion of foreign troops, such as occurred during the eighth and sixth centuries BCE.

    From these quotes, it looks like the phrase “a land of unwalled villages” would have definitely applied in Ezekiel’s time. In fact that verse is even mentioned in the above document.

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  80. @ Howie,

    I agree with you. That seems the most plausible of the interpretations/explanations to me. It seemed to me that some of the explanations were asserting that “all” of the cities would have no walls and that that particular interpretation asserted that the walls had to be “all the way around” the cities where the text doesn’t say “all”.

    Like

  81. Howie,

    You bring an interesting perspective I hadn’t thought of. I just finished re-reading Ezekiel 38 with your idea in mind, and it does seem to fit rather well. I’m currently reading the article you referenced, and I find it really fascinating. Not finished yet, but enjoying it! If I have any further thoughts when I finish, I’ll post another reply.

    Like

  82. haydendlinder

    So I’m sorry I missed all the drama. Of course I got the part where “The BIRD” claimed to be the good one… Again. Anyway:)
    I thought I should mention, just winging this out there. Spitballing the idea as they say. You now the primary job of a Prophet is to provide hope. He doesn’t actually have to be accurate or correct in any sense.
    Just a little background color.
    Don’t ban me when you ban Ark.

    Like

  83. @ Haydendliner,
    There are lots and lots of flavors of Christianity — yours, perhaps, is OK if the scripture is not literal.

    Were’nt the prophets suppose to WARN, instead of give HOPE, btw.
    Just a little background color.

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  84. haydendlinder

    Hey. Hey. No stealing my terms. I totally made up background color. But seriously, yeah. Their job is to exhort and rebuke depending on what was needed. warnings usually fell under the category of Rebuke sooooo YES Sabiio you’re right. I hope you’re happy.

    What’s the back story on this prophesy from Ezekial? What was it’s intended purpose? Anyone?

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  85. “I hope your happy.”
    Nah, I am not trying to win something, just improve knowledge — for both of us.

    As far as the Sunday School lesson (purpose of Ezekiel), why don’t you tell us.
    Oh, yes, and to improve knowledge, please tell us your flavor of Christianity.
    Because, depending on the sect of Christianity, the story changes a bit.

    Like

  86. Oh, btw, hay, as you know, Ezekiel is a Jewish book, and for Jews has a Jewish message.

    But I know Christians find allusions to their Jesus in the Tanakh, so I am wonder if you be telling us that Ezekiel is really telling us about Jesus and Mary and getting to heaven.

    As for anticipating my likes and dislikes of flavors of Christians, I am surprised at your clairvoyance.
    I have a whole chart here on the types of Christianity I like more than others. Read there and you can relax your ESP for a while:
    http://triangulations.wordpress.com/2009/10/24/my-favorite-type-of-christians/

    Like

  87. archaeopteryx1

    RE: “Don’t ban me when you ban Ark.” – Yeah, ’cause Hayden is the “not-so-bad one —

    RE: “As for what flavor I am, you wouldn’t like it.” – whatever it is, it has nuts in it.

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  88. Oh, dear noblest-of-commentors, arch:
    I agree, every flavor of Christian I know has nuts in it. But then, every flavor of Atheist I know (and there are lots there too) have nuts in them too.

    I’ve been to Skeptic/Atheist meetups where you can find them pretty easily — or on the web, for sure.

    Well, I guess it all depends on how you define “nuts” — I actually try to avoid speaking in such general terms.

    Arch-birdy: Do you have any intelligent, kind Christian friends? I certainly do. I imagine you do, but I thought I’d ask.

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  89. archaeopteryx1

    Oh, dear noblest-of-commentors, arch” – NOW you’re just making FUN of me!

    Yes, of course I have – the “nuts” remark wasn’t for all Christians, just for Hayden!

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  90. There is NO animosity between the Ark and myself, believe me – except he talks funny.

    I resent that, you old fossil. With my teeth in I do not sound funny at all. In fact, I sound perfectly normal … for any given value of normal.
    Pee Ess. What does animosity mean?

    @Nate
    What must I do to receive one of Sabio’s badge award things?
    Will it be like those little stick-on gold and silver stars we used to get at kindergarten?

    Will you be hiring Sabio as your PR officer in the near future?

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  91. archaeopteryx1

    RE: “In fact, I sound perfectly normal …” – if one can stretch the imagination sufficiently as to consider being a Brit, “normal” —

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  92. RE: “In fact, I sound perfectly normal …” – if one can stretch the imagination sufficiently as to consider being a Brit, “normal”

    Ruth’s husband is a Brit. If she reads this, I suspect you are edging out over the thin ice, Arch.
    And remember, your ancestors probably came from Mud Island or environs at some point in the distant past – or maybe they were aboard the Mayflower?

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  93. Ron

    RE: “In fact, I sound perfectly normal …” – if one can stretch the imagination sufficiently as to consider being a Brit, “normal”

    Reminds me of this:

    Like

  94. “…maybe they were aboard the Mayflower” – nah, it was a rowboat called the Christmas Cactus.

    Well, as long as they weren’t the result of some dubious canoodling aboard that ship Noah built.

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  95. RE: “RE: “In fact, I sound perfectly normal …” – if one can stretch the imagination sufficiently as to consider being a Brit, “normal” –

    Normal?!? What’s that?

    Like

  96. I want a badge! I want a badge! I haven’t insulted anyone … well, except maybe for Kathy. But she feels insulted by all us “liberals.”

    Like

  97. But she feels insulted by all us “liberals.”

    I think you’re right, Nan. I think our very existence is an insult to her (even if we aren’t “liberals”).

    Like

  98. william

    Her use of “liberals” is, I think, a good illustration of one her problems. If we can define anything how we want, with an arbitrary standard, then we can make any point, to suite any end.

    Being completely without bias is difficult if not impossible, yet many of us have changed from one firm position to another. This does not mean we’re right now or that we were incorrect before, but it does show that we have been capable of stepping outside bias, evidence of being truly objective.

    There are many positions that I have come upon that i do not agree with, but I can see how or why the individuals with those positions see things that way. I think this is at least a step toward objectivity. of course, there are others that i do not understand at all…

    But like the use of “liberals” I think Kathy may have her own definition for “Objective” as well; and to her, “objectivity” means, from what i can tell, “believing in the bible.” In this since she is right, just like her meaning for liberal, being “one who rejects the bible,” is correct with that definition.

    It gets confusing because those words don’t really mean those things, but i think redefining words gets easier once you’ve been trying to resolve all the issues in the bible and with christianity for so long, while maintaining that it’s inerrant.

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  99. william

    And even though mike is no longer with us, I do hope that we can move on into the other prophecies that he believed were so compelling.

    The “prophecies” of the bible were one of the bigger internal problems that eventually helped be leave the faith, once I really began to look at them closely.

    I used to focus so much on jesus and his teachings, that didnt even realize that I had never really looked closely at he prophecies that supposedly spoke of him.

    I guess i used to view them like the way an idiot teenager views algebra, who’d look at a formula like, .

    X + 6 = 52 and say, “who cares what “x” is when I already know the answer.

    52 wasn’t really the answer, just part of the question.

    The questions are, do these prophecies really point to the actual outcome, were they actually given prior to the “foretold event,” and do they really appear to have come from god?

    The outcome of a prophecy isn’t necessarily the answer…. if any of that made sense to anyone…

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  100. Being completely without bias is difficult if not impossible, yet many of us have changed from one firm position to another. This does not mean we’re right now or that we were incorrect before, but it does show that we have been capable of stepping outside bias, evidence of being truly objective.

    I agree. I’ve even copped to being biased. The challenge to Nate’s integrity over his statements that he would “never go back” because he’s seen too much is unfair, IMHO. You can’t un-ring a bell. I’ve seen his blog as a progression over time. That doesn’t mean that he didn’t examine the evidence with any measure of objectivity. It simply means that at the end of that examination he’s come to some fairly certain conclusions. At least that’s the way I took it. I’m not at all certain why that’s an insult to a Christian.

    So if he has examined the evidence, barring some new evidence coming to light, and come to a conclusion maybe he is a bit biased at this point. Biased by his perception and evaluation of the evidence presented.

    That doesn’t mean that he, or any of the rest of us, shouldn’t be challenged to stretch our thinking, but there are better ways of doing that than to exchange barbs and insults under the guise of constructive criticism. That’s not what that phrase means.

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  101. william

    …and a lot of people defend prophecy by saying that prophecies are poetic, figurative, etc by nature, so it’s unfair to expect very literal language… but why is that?

    Maybe it’s because prophecy isnt real, and the only way to pass them off is by presenting vague and riddle like predictions that offer enough leeway to be argued as true or fulfilled under a number of actual eventualities.

    Making a very detailed, literal and specific prophecy is much harder to pull off when it comes be guaranteeing fulfillment.

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  102. @Nan

    I want a badge! I want a badge! I haven’t insulted anyone … well, except maybe for Kathy. But she feels insulted by all us “liberals.”

    Best ask Sabio if you deserve one. but you’ve got my vote 😉

    Like

  103. haydendlinder

    I don;t think Sabio gets my sarcasm. So I’m scewered on getting badge. Where are we on the prophesy argument in Ezekial about the city without walls?

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  104. @Hayden

    I don;t think Sabio gets my sarcasm. So I’m scewered on getting badge. Where are we on the prophesy argument in Ezekial about the city without walls?

    I think it’s safe to say that Nate did a good job demonstrating the fallacious nature of this prophecy (as with all others) but Sabio and Mike have enjoyed taking him to task for not being 100% accurate ( according to their somewhat pedantic standards) possibly alluding that Nate should go and become fully acquainted with all the subtleties and idiosyncrasies of Hebrew, including the difference between a fence and a wall. How Nate missed this is beyond me…really.
    Disgraceful!

    Bottom line, it (like the bible in general) simply lacks the words Once upon a time.

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  105. but Sabio and Mike have enjoyed taking him to task for not being 100% accurate ( according to their somewhat pedantic standards)…

    Thanks for the compliment, Ark, but I don’t feel like Sabio was taking me to task about anything. I had trouble with Mike because he couldn’t seem to moderate his tone, but I’ve appreciated every one of Sabio’s comments. I’m actually glad that he feels he can disagree with me on a particular point without things getting ugly — I like to have various points of view represented here, and I think he made some excellent points.

    Anyway, I just wanted to take the opportunity to say that comments like his are exactly what I’m hoping to encourage here. If we let the blog become too much of an echo chamber, it won’t be worth that much. So I’m glad he posted here, and I hope he continues. I want to make sure we don’t run people off just because they might disagree with us. All this recent business with Mike has made me much more sensitive to the tone that’s set here — I don’t see why we can’t be kind, considerate, and sympathetic, so that’s what I’ll be shooting for.

    You know, Kumbaya and all that… 🙂

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  106. Kumbaya and all that is cool, but hopefully we don’t have to hold hands – do we Nate? 😉

    I’m totally with you on not wanting echo chambers. I also like Sabio’s critiques because they get me thinking.

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  107. I’m totally with you on not wanting echo chambers. I also like Sabio’s critiques because they get me thinking.

    Ditto. I spent too many years in a group that tended to shut you out if you didn’t “hold the party line.” One of the things I like about being non-religious is that people are free to hold different opinions on all kinds of things without being ostracized. And I know that some religions are far more open-minded than the one I was in, so despite being an atheist, I actually don’t have too much of a problem with those.

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  108. Is Nate going to have a sheriff’s badge? He might need one. And a big stick. 😀

    Oh, the gods, I hope not, otherwise he’ll need a deputy and I can already see jumping up and down Sabio waving his hand crying, “Pick me, Nate, pick me!”

    Like

  109. haydendlinder

    I thought you were “William the Conqueror?”… YEAH!!!! Got it!
    William the Conqueror. Can I call you WtC for short?

    Like

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