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John Calvin puts forward a very simple reason why love is the greatest gift: “Because faith and hope are our own: love is diffused among others.” In other words, faith and hope benefit the possessor, but love always benefits another. In John 13:34–35 Jesus says, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Love always requires an “other” as an object; love cannot remain within itself, and that is part of what makes love the greatest gift.

Goth Explorer

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  1. Goth Explorer

    Population growth since the time of Noah

    I'm not sure what point you are making here. So far as I am aware, the twentieth century is the only century in history in which wars claimed millions of lives. Even the ACW was only about 800k. And yet populations grew during the twentieth century. As for plagues, yes disease can devastate populations, but this happens rarely. In fact I can think of only two centuries - most recently the fourteenth - in which disease has set population growth into reverse gear. Europe lost a third of its population in a few years mid14C, and yet London was a larger city 200 years later.
  2. Roughly 4400 years ago, the world had a population of eight. There was a flood, and only eight people survived. This post does not seek to address all of the many issues surrounding this, but instead to consider merely the population growth since then. The world had a breeding population of six people 4400 years ago. How do we get from there to the current world population estimated at 7.7bn? If my arithmetic is correct, then it would require population growth of 0.44 percent per year - a very low figure. To give it some context, the population of England and Wales grew from 16m to 18m in the ten years from 1841 to 1851. I make that an annual population growth of 1.2 percent. By contrast, if the breeding population of the world 4400 years ago was higher than six, then a much lower rate of population increase would be needed.
  3. Goth Explorer

    Dodos versus penguins

    Dodos could not fly, Penguins cannot fly. Birds which fly generally have two imperatives to do so: to escape danger, and to seek food. I believe that dodos could fly once. I believe that they flew to Mauritius in search of food. Once there they found an abundance of food and no predators. Thus they had no reason to fly away, and so over time they lost the use of their wings. Then humans arrived, and the dodo was toast. I do not believe that penguins could ever fly. Their bodies seem so adequately designed for swimming that I believe that God created them as swimming creatures.
  4. To be fair, that is a much better answer than I was expecting, but I will quibble on one point. How do you reconcile your previous comment with John 3:13? No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven – the Son of Man.
  5. If they are not in heaven, then they are somewhere else. The fact that I cannot clearly identify this other place is not the point. The point is that this is a parable, and one which Jesus never explained. Believers do go to heaven when they die, but not immediately. Judgment comes first. The believers in Revelation 6 appear to be in a pre-judgment situation. Please feel free to check all of the references to heaven and paradise in The Bible, and make sense of them. I cannot. If the third heaven is paradise, then what about the first and second heavens? Is there a fourth heaven?
  6. I don't know where you get the heaven from regarding Lazarus, but he is not in heaven. How many Bible translations use the word heaven? Also, the people in Revelation have been killed, yes, but we are not told that they are in heaven. You assume that. As an aside, I have researched the difference between heaven and paradise in The Bible, but gave up because I could not make sense of it. But I don't think they are the same place or the same thing.
  7. You are assuming that Lazarus was in heaven and had faith, but we are not told either of those things. We are told that he went to Abraham's bosom for an unspecified reason. Recall that the Israelite people came from Abraham via the second son of his second son. Revelation is the hardest book in The Bible to understand, as there is so much symbolism in it. Nevertheless even of the passage you cite is to be taken literally, I am not clear what it demonstrates. The event it describes appears to be pre-judgement, and therefore refer to people not yet in heaven.
  8. Goth Explorer

    Luke 6:28 - what does it mean?

    Bless those who curse you. What does this mean exactly? Having given it some thought, I believe it means that I should not hope that you go to hell when you die, even if you annoy me. Does anyone have a different interpretation?
  9. As an aside, leper hospitals in medieval Europe were known as lazar houses. I think that this is a reference to Lazarus the friend of Jesus who appears to have also been called Simon the Leper. Back on topic, I think that this is a parable. Here are some problems with it being a literal story. Why is Abraham's bosom not mentioned elsewhere in The Bible? Why does Lazarus go to heaven (which he does not)? We are not told that he was religious. Where else in The Bible does it tell us that anyone in the hereafter has any recollection of their life on earth?
  10. Goth Explorer

    My rather grisly take on the death of JonBenet.

    One thing that puzzles me is how Mr Ramsey managed to obtain the ransom money by 8am on Boxing Day. In my country, the banks do not open on Boxing Day, and neither are they ever open before 8am.
  11. Goth Explorer

    My rather grisly take on the death of JonBenet.

    I was aware of the libel suit. Fortunately I have not specified anything against the brother.
  12. JonBenet Ramsay died at the age of six during the night following Christmas Day 1996. Her body was found in the basement of her family home in Boulder the following day. A lengthy ransom note was found in the house a few hours earlier. Suspicion soon fell on her family, partly because of their untypical behaviour, and partly because of a lack of evidence for any break-in to the house. It has been suggested that either a parent or her 9yo brother killed her - probably not intentionally - and that her murder was then staged as a cover-up. The problems with this include the lack of evidence for any family member killing her, and the fact that in 2003 the DNA of an unknown male was found on the clothes worn by JonBenet at the murder scene. Also, the ransom note - although written on paper owned by JonBenet's mother with one of her pens - was not identified with the handwriting of any family member. Nor were any fingerprints found on it. The Boulder police are still working on the intruder theory, but there are problems with that as well. The supposed entry window had undisturbed cobwebs, and it is hard to see how an intruder would waste time writing a lengthy ransom note before vanishing without trace. Having considered the evidence, I have reached the rather scary conclusion that JonBenet was sodomised and then murdered by a man who was allowed into the house by a member of the family - quite possibly with the intention of letting him abuse her. It seems to tick almost every box. The only box it perhaps does not tick is that a neighbour heard a child scream at around 5am (I think), followed by a sound consistent with someone leaving a house but not by the front door. JonBenet's father and brother are both still alive, and can now sue me for libel.
  13. It is definitely a parable. It does not make sense any other way. The trouble is that Jesus did not interpret this parable, or if he did then his interpretation was not recorded. I read once that it is a parable which predicts the diaspora. The rich man is symbolic of Jews, and the poor man is symbolic of gentiles - or at least some gentiles.
  14. Goth Explorer

    When did Jesus begin his ministry?

    In the room of his father - yes, good point. Herod may not have been dead. Like George the Third, he may have been still the king, but no longer an active ruler.
  15. Goth Explorer

    Two girl groups

    Those of you who have been following the X Factor UK this year will know about Acacia and Aaliyah. Their music is not entirely to my taste, but I admire their enthusiasm. My favourite girl group are The Warning - three sisters from Mexico, who are arguably the finest all-female metal band in the world ever. I love their recent album release Queen of the Murder Scene. Of course Acacia and Aaliyah are far better known than The Warning - at least in the UK. In a sense this is a shame. X Factor encourages our young people to aspire to be singers or rappers, but generally speaking it does not encourage young people to aspire to be instrumental musicians. We should be pleased when our children learn to sing, but even more pleased when they reach for a Les Paul - or for a clarinet or whatever.

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