from a biblical framework, why do christians... | INFJ Forum

from a biblical framework, why do christians...

Discussion in 'Philosophy and Religion' started by frozen_water, Jun 10, 2010.

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  1. frozen_water

    frozen_water Community Member

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    edit: this post just seems to be confusing people.... so if you're new to the thread, go try and read the one I wrote about 10 posts below. Now that I've scrolled up to reread it, I finally discovered why :p. It seems like the top part of my post got cut off when I copied it to make sure I didn't get automatically logged out. Ether way, post #11 in this thread should be more clear and thorough... so check there if you're having trouble figuring out what I'm trying to ask.

    You'll have to forgive me, because my bible knowledge is years old, at this point, but this dawned on me a week or two ago, and I wanted some relatively-conservative christian person to explain it to me, biblically. I could only think of a few verses that seemed to drive towards very physically-oriented beliefs. They're things like...

    One is John 14:6... "Jesus said to him, 'I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.'"

    and Acts 4:12... "there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name [except Jesus] under heaven given among men by which we must be saved."

    and second is 1 John 4:2-3... "By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God."

    The thing about these is..... both verses actually seem very metaphysical, in nature. John 14:6 is immediately followed by Jesus saying things like "I am in the Father, and the Father is in me." 1 John 4:2 is actually more explicit, because saying "Jesus Christ has come in the flesh" seems to imply that the name/title "Jesus [the] Christ" applies to something which is not only flesh, but which has come in the flesh at some point.

    Now I know that it's a common conservative christian belief that they have to convince people (or, more precisely, that the Holy Spirit does, through their evangelism) to believe in the gospel story of this physical man, but I'm at a loss for reasons why. Even the great commission, which Christians typically look at as their motivation for spreading the gospel, reads:

    "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you."

    There don't seem to be any historical events associated with Jesus' teachings. His commands taught things like how to love, to focus on your heart rather than your actions, to examine your own life instead of judging other peoples', etc. He of course taught propositional truths as well, claimed he was the Son of God, etc... but those aren't commands which were to be obeyed, so he couldn't have meant those when talking here.


    I know INFJs are stereotypically inclined to take a very personal(/probably liberal) view of spirituality, but if there are any people here who understand (or, preferably, believe) a more conservative interpretation, can you point out something I'm missing? Obviously a tremendous number of people in the world disagree with me, so I assume there's some reason behind it... but i can't find it at all.
     
    #1 frozen_water, Jun 10, 2010
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  2. Barnabas

    Barnabas Time Lord

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    I'll try my whack at this, though I'm not entirley sure what your question is exactly.

    -Are you asking about the personhood of Jesus, in that are we supposed to teach and preach about a physical person?

    It's neccesary to teach about Jesus as a person because it makes him real, simply put If Jesus is not a man and simply an illusion that is made to teach a good lesson, his lesson is lost and he is turned into a liar.

    How can I expect to suffer like Christ if Christ never actualy suffered?

    How Could God ask that we act like him when he never acted in such a way himself?


    The need to teach about Christ is also found in Acts in multiple places, where Peter, Paul, and Stephen preach about a physical man and not of love, faith, and hope.

    -Are you saying that Jesus is the physical incarnation of a non-physical being?

    If so I would ask you read John 1, were John states the word became flesh. in which case you answer would be yes Jesus is the physical representation of God on Earth and prior to being born on earth he resided in heaven. Another representation of this can be found in the son of man prophecy in Daniel 7

    -Are you asking if it's neccesary to believe that Jesus was an actual person to be saved?

    While I'm wary of stepping into the waters of salvation issues, I can say this I'm a messenger and nothing more. I can not, do not, and do not want to make decisions on who shall and who shal not go to heaven. Jesus spoke clearly when he said that his name is the only one of salvation, there was no use of hyperbole, no fancy words, nothing lost in translation. Jesus as a man Claimed to be the only way a person could get to heaven.

    -Are you asking whether or not we should preach in Christ's name or about Him?

    I which case I would direct you to Acts 1 where Jesus calls those who see him ascend to be witnesses in his name to the ends of the earth.

    Witnessing comes from the Roman culture from when a Romen Emperor died he would have a person selected to proclaim his ascension to the stars to take his place amongst the rest of the Roman gods.

    In this similar way, Christians are supposed to witness or proclaim to others That Christ is alive and has ascended into heaven.
     
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  3. OP
    frozen_water

    frozen_water Community Member

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    *grrs*.. so I tried to write up a nice, detailed, clearer post, but the forum gave me some error when I tried to post it, and it was lost. It's a shame, cause it was quite a nice one. Gimme a little bit, though... I'll come back tomorrow and try again.
     
  4. Barnabas

    Barnabas Time Lord

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    no problem, hope my post helped atleast a little.
     
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  5. Faye

    Faye ^_^
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    Because then it wouldn't be Christianity. It'd be some other religion. It is crucial to emphasize that Christ walked the earth, not as a king or emperor, but as a lowly carpenter. Christ needs to be accessible to everyone (at least in Protestantism), and he cannot be accessible if he is the high and mighty both in heaven and on Earth. He is the liaison to the transcendent God, and Christianity, for all this it is, is not a religion of elitism.

    (Note: there are elitists who are Christians, but that is different).

    Basically, it is importance to emphasize Christs' immanence so that people feel connected to God through him. If he was purely transcendent, you wouldn't be able to have any Jesus freaks (to put it crudely) because humans cannot commune or associate directly with the transcendent.
     
  6. Shai Gar

    Shai Gar Guest

    Cumming in the flesh? Is that like cutting a hole in someones stomach and getting a little frisky?























    If I haven't turned you on and made you throw up at the same time, I haven't lived up to my reputation.
     
  7. Roger

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    Would you like to understand this point from universal point of view???

    Look here: you don't have to wander here and there to find your god. It is just within you. You have to believe in him and maintain it with great patience.

    I hope you understand this.
     
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  8. arbygil

    arbygil Passing through

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    I think a few Barnabas and Seraphim said it best.

    Also, remember, Christianity was the first religion to actually create a positive connection between God and man. The pantheon of gods and goddesses were either ambivalent or out to destroy mankind, or they were simply creating things and nothing else. Or they were simply angry at mankind.

    Yahweh, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, knew that mankind could never be perfect enough. You have a perfect God with no problems, no imperfections, and humankind who wakes up in the morning already sinning or imperfect. But, a Savior was given to mankind so mankind could follow him, and have all the imperfections paid for. There is nothing we can do that's good enough to please God.

    Why a human figure? He had to be both God and man to bridge the gap. In Christian tradition Jesus was both God and man in the flesh. Fully God and fully man. In other words, God himself knew we couldn't do it alone so he sacrificed himself to create that bridge. He lived as one of us, he understood all of us, and he taught us how to live so we could truly understand him. He's the liaison. Sure it could've be a spiritual being, but a spiritual being is fully god (not a liaison with man). If he were fully human, he couldn't be the sacrifice for all the sins of mankind.

    So he had to be both so we could be free.
     
  9. Flavus Aquila

    Flavus Aquila Finding My Place in the Sun
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    Exactly what Arbygil said.

    As for neat biblical one-line quotes. That will never work for a developed faith/belief. The whole scriptures' perspective is necessary.
     
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    frozen_water

    frozen_water Community Member

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    ok.... yeah, I think I was just generally unclear, so I'll try again to type this again (and copy/paste before I hit post this time).

    ^^What I meant to ask was closest to this, but still not quite the same. I could probably best illustrate it with an example. Imagine two fictional(?) groups of people.

    The first one knows of the historical Jesus, believes he performed many miracles, believes his claim that he is the Son of God, and believes that he died and was resurrected, the firstfruit of a new creation. Unfortunately his teachings were distorted and lost in history. In this world Jesus encouraged kicking children ages 10-13 in the head whenever they were found out on the street, just so that they didn't get too uppity in their teenage years, pouring boiling oil out of your second story window to discourage visistors from knocking, and poking blind beggars in the eye for recreation. Yet despite their moral misgivings, they say (sorry, this might be dipping into Calvinist points of view a bit much for most of you) "no. Jesus is the Son of God, and God knows what 'good' is. It's said that sin blinds us to the truth, so we have to submit ourselves to these teachings. If we didn't, we would be putting ourselves in God's place as judges of good and evil, and that's definitely a bad idea."

    The second population has never heard of the bible in their life, and word of Jesus has never reached their ears. They live in some jungle, as a tribe, but by watching the earth and carefully examining the world around them, they have come to the same basic metaphysical picture that the bible portrays. They believe in God, but not by the same name as the Christian God, who created everything and provides for them daily. They understand that people are hopelessly flawed, and lack the ability to save themselves... but also believe that God loves (with all the connotations of agape) them, and their mythology includes that God coming to earth at some point as a sacrifice to bridge that gap--but they're in fact completely fantasy characters. Likewise, they have learned the real God's law through observing creation, and hold that as an ideal, although (because they see their flawed-ness) they know they don't keep to it it like they should. If confronted by a missionary from group #1, who tries to say "this man you've been talking about is named Jesus, and he actually existed!", they would grow excited and listen expectantly. However, upon hearing of his child-kicking, oil-pouring, blind-man-poking ways, their moral sensibilities would overwhelm the situation and they'd probably say "sorry.... our God wouldn't do those things."

    If the first group seems unrealistic to you, I would point to history, and all the (often opposing) things the bible has at one point or another been widely associated with. Socialism is the best economic system because in Acts the early church spread around their wealth. Capitalism is the best economic system because it respects individual choice. Free the African slaves, because they're men like you, made in the image of God. Take the Africans as slaves, because then we can teach them of Jesus while they live with us. Associate with sinners, because Jesus ate with prostitutes and tax collectors constantly. Don't associate with sinners, because we are told to avoid even the appearance of evil and be above reproach. For a modern day example of that last one, think of homosexuality. Now of course some of these things are clearly non-biblical to us, but at some point in history, each one was the majority opinion of Christianity, and Christianity became associated with it.

    If the second group seems unrealistic, I would point to Romans 1:18-20. "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse." If what can be known about God is made plain through the creation of the wrold, such that people are without excuse for rejecting it, then the second population is possible as well.


    With this in mind: which one of these groups of people are closer to the truth? Is it the one with a Jesus with a bent substance of character, or the one with no Jesus, but all the "essentials"? (and if you disagree that the second one had all the essentials because I left something crucial out, just append that belief to their mythology to come back to the same problem). What does this mean for evangelism? I know you (Barnabas) said that numerous time in Acts, Peter, Paul, and Stephen preached about a man, rather than the ideas. This is true... but it is also true that the man was (at the time) associated with the right ideas. As a forum full of feelers, I think you guys would understand how hard it is for some people to separate the idea from the person?

    Lastly, I would point to the great commission... which is often used as the basis for "spreading the gospel" (that is, the facts associated with it).

    "And Jesus came and said to them, 'All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you."

    Baptize and teach? Of course propositional truths (like 'Jesus died as a sacrifice for your sins') can be 'observed', but they weren't commanded of anyone. Why is it that he wanted the teachings to be spread? And lest you think there's something else tied up in the meaning of "make disciples", http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G3100&t=ESV has a lexicon entry for the phrase translated to that, and it also speaks only of following instructions. And while, yes, Jesus did instruct people to believe in him, that just loops us back to the observation I made in the OP, where "I" and "Jesus" and things like that seem to (at least sometimes) be speaking of the metaphysical being who this man, Jesus, incarnated.
     
    #10 frozen_water, Jun 10, 2010
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2010
  11. the

    the Si master race.
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    Christianity isnt supposed to be as open to interpretation as people make it. It seems like you are describing gnostics in the OP. That was declared heretical I believe.
     
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    #11 the, Jun 10, 2010
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    Hellfire Club?
     
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  13. arbygil

    arbygil Passing through

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    I think, frozen (and this is my take; not necessary "established" take, but there ya go) that you may have too much at once. In order to discuss it, it's better to take things in chunks, so it can be discussed a bit easier.

    Some of the answers are going to sound fairly "airy" and less factual because - lets face it - a lot of Christianity has to do with faith over the five senses. I'd say this: Answering the question of "well, what about the people in darkest Africa/Asia/etc who've never heard" you may have to think metaphysically. You may have to believe that a real God would have thought about that, and made ways to engage the hearts of those who don't have a Bible and don't have people coming over to tell them about this Christian God.

    I have heard (not personally seen, just heard) of people who believed in God without a Bible or missionary organization, but they ended up believing the same thing as Christians do. I honestly believe that a true, loving God would want people to know about Him. The Christian God is more about relationship (or should be).

    I can't speak for everyone, though. Unfortunately a lot of things have been done in the name of Christianity or Christians that make me ill and sick to my stomach. But sadly, any religion - any tenet, any belief - can be taken out of context and used for someone's detriment.
     
  14. Afrelen

    Afrelen Community Member

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    To put it simply, the reason for Christ's humanity is so that God could justly reconcile and unify the nature of man to Himself. That is, human nature, post-fall, is to sin (or better put "not possible to not sin"). Sin, being by definition rebellion against God, cannot be present before God. If humans are cursed to be divided from God eternally, but it requires their freedom from the bonds of sin, how then can we be given union with God? The answer simply is to change the nature of man and reconcile their sin justly. In order to change one's nature, God's intervention is the only possibility. Thus, only God can serve as a savior to man. However, in order to reconcile sin, man must die. So only a man can serve as savior. Solution? The God-Man. Hence why Christ is both fully man and fully God. The reason for the physical lies within that, in order to be fully man Christ had to be a physical being. A human being is just as much flesh as he is spirit. God physically created man (Genesis does describe God molding man from the earth) to be a physical, concrete being.

    Some excellent reading on the topic, though, would be Anselm's "Why the God-Man?" or Athanasius's "Against the Arians." Both provide far better biblical reference than I could off the top of my head. However, the book of Romans on the whole describes this concept very well.
     
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    frozen_water

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    ok... thanks guys. I waited a while cause I couldn't think of really any way to respond, but none was coming. I also still think afrelen is missing the point a little bit (I took about 6-7 classes with a staunch ENTJ Calvinist who was in the process of getting his PhD, so I've heard all the "logistics" of the incrnation spelled out several times), and it's not quite gnosticism either, uberrogo. Gnostcism was declared heretical (if I recall correctly) because they judged material things to be evil and considered the body a prison for the soul, which by association accuses the God who created material things of creating evil. I'm not talking about that at all.

    I think arby understood me... but I don't know how to break it up into any smaller chunks for easier discussion. To me at least, it all seems like part of the same question, with a lot of context I mentioned feeding into it, when clarification was needed. The core question is: Biblically, is it more important to have faith that the gospel story of this man will bring one life, or to have faith that the character/qualities/teachings/"non-physical substance" (for people are hybrid creatures of flesh and spirit, of course) of this man will bring one life? The rest was kind of details/background logic so that you'd have some idea where I was coming from.

    so I guess, that's your answer to it (don't mind the "airiness" of it, it was quite fine :)). I guess... the reason I want to know is because, if this is true, it completely shifts the perspective of evangelism and relating to the people around you. On one end, it makes sense to hand out leaflets and trying to talk to as many people about the goespel as you can, streetside-evangelism style. On the other, it makes sense to live a normal life, but taking extra special care to respect people, live honorably, and otherwise try to portray the beauty of Christ-like values, so that people start to absorb them and recognize them as truely "good things".
     
  16. Barnabas

    Barnabas Time Lord

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    The core question is: Biblically, is it more important to have faith that the gospel story of this man will bring one life, or to have faith that the character/qualities/teachings/"non-physical substance" (for people are hybrid creatures of flesh and spirit, of course) of this man will bring one life?


    See the problem is that your trying to seperate the two, and truthfully you can't, not if your trying to see the whole picture.
     
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  17. Flavus Aquila

    Flavus Aquila Finding My Place in the Sun
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    The distinction between physical and spiritual; between man and God in Jesus are distinctions, but these are not separate things.

    To create a dichotomy between Jesus' humanity and divinity is always heretical. The tendency in the Eastern parts of Chritendom was usually towards denying the real humanity of Christ; the tendency in the Western parts was towards denying his divinity.

    The Faith of the Church (which is in the reality of Jesus the historical man) is that he is completely God and completely man. He is not 50% God and 50% man; but 100% God and 100% man - he is human and God. This is true even though when the question of what kind of person he is answered: he is not a human person, but a Divine person (the Second person of the Blessed Trinity).
     
  18. Barnabas

    Barnabas Time Lord

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    I more or less agree.
     
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  19. Flavus Aquila

    Flavus Aquila Finding My Place in the Sun
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    *derail - sort of*

    It ocurred to me that the East's tendency to focus on Christ's divinity is directly related to the centrality of His resurrection in their spirituality; the West's focus on Christ's humanity seems connected to our focus on His Passion and Death in our spirituality.
     
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    frozen_water

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    eek... alright, so first I need to say: despite how I probably sounded in all these posts (maybe it's just me, but I felt like there was a definite shift in attitude when people realized what I was asking), I'm not actually trying to "attack" orthodox Christianity. I'm also sorry for bouncing around so much, as there is a lot going on inside my head. About a year ago, my life sort of exploded into lots of religious experiences (dreams, interpretations of dreams, visions, angels, demons, possession, and healings), and my understanding of these things has been shifting accordingly. As I already mentioned, I have a very largely conservative (/mostly Calvinist) background. It's not that there's no place in that sort of theology for those things, but they're a lot more the detached-learners, with far more emphasis on the intellectual content than the experience. Don't get me wrong... modern Christianity (along with the rest of the modern world, for that matter) sorely lacks intellectual depth, but now I'm running into one major problem when I look back on the intellectual content. I have no trouble understanding the logical consistency of it, or believing that Christianity poses a perfectly viable description for the world (really, if you think it's stupid/inconsistent/doesn't make sense, you're either not trying hard enough or you're a hell of a lot smarter than I am)... but there are also a lot of biblical phrases that stand out at me far more than they did while it was pure theology. As an example, Romans ends with some encouragement: "the God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet." This makes a lot more sense to me now, because my first dozen or so run-ins with demons made me feel very instinctively afraid and angry at the same time. It got to the point where I grew so used to them that I would just calmly start praying for God to get rid of them, though, and they left for about 6-7 months (which gives you some idea how frequent they were, given that this all started only about a year ago). The last one didn't do either, but it felt like my brain was being kneeded like dough. It actually felt good for a short period, and I mistook it for an angel, but after about a minute or two it started to really hurt, and I realized--which also fits biblically, masquerading as angels of light and whatnot.

    My problem really isn't with the bible, which has proving itself increasingly remarkable for several years now... but that going back and rereading things with new eyes, I find myself looking at a lot of things Jesus said and wondering "why are we so sure that he didn't mean X?" Once enough of those come up, I start to wonder "just where did that chunk of doctrine come from, anyway?"

    I know why the church places such importance on directing faith towards Jesus-the-historical-person, but biblically, this has become one of those "where did this doctrine come from, anyway?" situations. Unfortunately, it has huge implications on... er.... everything. So much of our life ought to be built on it (do we trust our moral intuition, or our intellectual reason more when discerning truth? With what methods do we evangelize? What things do you focus on when someone asksk you? In which people does the Holy Spirit dwell? Related to that answer, whose advice is more reliable in [some life situation]? Things like that), but looking back, I just can't find the evidence for it anymore. It would certainly be easy to break things in our minds up with definite truth claims (even if we're not sure which claims are "critical", the problem is at least better-defined), but everyone knows that "ease" doesn't make something true.


    So with that context in mind, I would like to say that I think I agree, splitting "Jesus" into physical and metaphysical is artificial and illegitimate in a perfect world. Given that our world is not perfect, though...

    Consider if we lived in the first hypothetical society I mentioned in that last post, for instance, where all of his truth claims, but none of the teachings were preserved. If you exersized faith in "the whole thing", you would really only have faith in half of the real Jesus. Likewise if you lived in the second society, you would have faith in half of the real Jesus. Ironically, it would be the person who accepts half of what everyone else considers "Jesus" who actually follows him closest!

    Yet, in conservative christianity... one-half of these things seems to be placed on an unnatural pedestal. Missionaries do some service projects and things, for sure, but the majority of their work is "how can we tell people the story of the things this man has done?" When it comes to disagreements in the church: it might cause some bickering (or, if you're lucky, friendly discussion) if one group says that war is important and another group are pacifists, but once you say that you're not sure "this Jesus" (the whole thing, not the parts I've been breaking him up by) is the Son of God, oh now you're in danger of hellfire. If you prefer, you can also probably tell whether you have your own personal bias about this, too, by observing your perception of me when you thought I was asking about/possibly-attacking orthodox Christianity (for those of you who thought I was). I know at least that I would have been wary of a person suggesting this sort of viewpoint, 2-3 years ago, so I'm sure some of you were too.

    I feel like there has to be some reason (intellectual or emotional) for that emphasis, in peoples' minds, but it's lost on me. So I guess, I'll leave with two final questions: can anyone draw from Jesus' teachings and justify the Sensor-like bias that Christians have today, or is it something we've picked up erroneously? If not, do you think our interactions and discussions with people are more profitable when we begin by encouraging faith in Christ-like values and risk losing the opportunity to connect them to the historical person at a later time, or encouraging faith in the historical person and risk people connecting him with the wrong values?
     
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