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Liberal and/or moderate believers
Posted: 14 August 2013 12:24 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]
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I think “moderate” or “liberal” Christians (or any other religion) are the worst. Even though I think the ultra-religious are batshizzit crazy, at least they act on their beliefs and in the context of their worldview their beliefs are (roughly) consistent.  I mean if you truly don’t value science then you are entitled to believe Creationism, or that dinosaurs and man lived together, etc.  It’s the mod/libs whose beliefs amount to: I believe in science, rationality, evolution, tolerance, and oh ya, unicorns. And I go to a place where we all pray to unicorns and Santa in the Sky.  That said, at least they generally don’t also storm the abortion clinic looking for blood.

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Posted: 15 August 2013 02:53 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]
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CuthbertJ - 14 August 2013 12:24 PM

I think “moderate” or “liberal” Christians (or any other religion) are the worst. Even though I think the ultra-religious are batshizzit crazy, at least they act on their beliefs and in the context of their worldview their beliefs are (roughly) consistent.  I mean if you truly don’t value science then you are entitled to believe Creationism, or that dinosaurs and man lived together, etc.  It’s the mod/libs whose beliefs amount to: I believe in science, rationality, evolution, tolerance, and oh ya, unicorns. And I go to a place where we all pray to unicorns and Santa in the Sky.  That said, at least they generally don’t also storm the abortion clinic looking for blood.

You dispise Christians in general, don’t you? tongue wink

[ Edited: 15 August 2013 03:05 AM by mid atlantic ]
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Posted: 15 August 2013 05:55 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]
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Lausten - 13 August 2013 04:50 PM

Can you give some examples of things that can’t be questioned or altered in any way?

If you don’t believe Christ died on the cross, you’re not a Christian. Usually you also have to believe in some sort of resurrection.

The Koran can’t be altered.

Aboriginal cultures usually have sacred places, where you are supposed to only act in certain ways or only be there under certain circumstances.

A sweat or a meditation or even a sermon is sacred time. There are rules about how you act in those times.

While it’s true that if you accept a premise 100% you can’t question it and still accept it. It doesn’t mean you can never question it or that people who have never accepted the premise can’t question its validity.

Lois

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Posted: 15 August 2013 06:13 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]
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Lois - 15 August 2013 05:55 AM
Lausten - 13 August 2013 04:50 PM

Can you give some examples of things that can’t be questioned or altered in any way?

If you don’t believe Christ died on the cross, you’re not a Christian. Usually you also have to believe in some sort of resurrection.

The Koran can’t be altered.

Aboriginal cultures usually have sacred places, where you are supposed to only act in certain ways or only be there under certain circumstances.

A sweat or a meditation or even a sermon is sacred time. There are rules about how you act in those times.

While it’s true that if you accept a premise 100% you can’t question it and still accept it. It doesn’t mean you can never question it or that people who have never accepted the premise can’t question its validity.

Lois

We were originally talking about what “sacred” meant. Sacred is only sacred to a certain group. Outsiders can respect the sacredness of the group, but that’s different than holding it sacred. Obviously, they could also question it, I’m not sure why you pointed that out.

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Posted: 15 August 2013 01:44 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]
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Lausten - 09 August 2013 11:45 AM

This idea of moderates comes up a lot in religious discussions. Christians will distance themselves from fundamentalists or Muslims will claim they are not terrorists. They will also say how unfair it is to generalize about believers. New Atheists will say the moderates are not a strong enough voice, or that they “give cover” to the fundamentalists. My problem with the moderates is . . .

This is why many of the discussions don’t get anywhere: they lack clarity. Many planes of analysis could be used to measure moderation vis-à-vis religious ideation. These include intensity of belief, intensity of presentation (in-your-face activism and proselytizing versus maintaining privacy of belief), the centrality or non-centrality of religion in the person’s life, the scope people give to their religions, and others. In what plane(s) of analysis are you measuring moderation?

Lausten - 09 August 2013 11:45 AM

. . . I have never heard one who is actually willing to consider their dogma is not sacred. The Dalai Lama might be the one exception, but if you include Buddhism in this discussion, you’re already pretty far left of the middle. 

There are many. Consider John Shelby Spong, for example.

Lausten - 09 August 2013 11:45 AM

I’m glad more religious people are accepting of gays and tolerant of other religions, but until they are ready to step out from under the cover of “faith”, I can’t consider them moderate. Once the “faith” card gets played, reasonable discourse gets difficult. For example, I can’t point out all the rapes in the Bible because that “has to be viewed in the context of the faith tradition”. That would be fine, if in fact there was way to view those stories in a way that had any value.

Currently, what passes for liberal is someone who is willing to say that they don’t believe in the miracles, don’t accept the old laws, but they do believe in their god (by whatever name). This could extend to actual discussions or encounters with that god. It allows for any spiritual experience to be used as proof of their chosen definition. So, I could look at the stars tonight and have exactly the same experience as one of these moderates and they would say I just experienced their god. If I said, no, I experienced my other neighbor’s god, or no, I experienced something available to all people everywhere, that would end the discussion. This is not what I call liberal or moderate.

Is this asking too much? I think in any other discipline, the expectation is, to be considered reasonable, you have to accept that you could be wrong. It is certainly true of science, it is sometimes true in politics (or at least it used to be), why should this not be the standard for religion?

To the extent that a religion makes fact claims, its advocates - consistent with sound and sustainable ethical standards - should acknowledge that they could be wrong. All fact claims are properly subjected to the most reliable methods for testing fact claims. Theology does not merit an exception. Just the opposite, it merits heightened suspicion because we know (if we are honest) how desperate many people are to believe in their respective theologies.

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Posted: 16 August 2013 08:06 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]
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There are many. Consider John Shelby Spong, for example.

Yeah, okay. To pick nits, Spong has picked apart all the miracles, but he still claims a relationship to Christ and indicates some sort of power there. So, “dogma” was too broad a term.

In what plane(s) of analysis are you measuring moderation?

PLaClair:
I’ll give a long answer to that. Maybe not interesting to everyone, but I get into these discussions a lot, so I’m trying to work out a positive answer to what liberal Christianity is, not just bash it.

I came across this analysis of an interview of a book on the topic, SBNR book review
I found the blog more interesting than the interview, and I’m not compelled to read the book. In the blog he came up with 5 points that churches should do, which I’ll reword and shorten:
1.  Allow you to think, have a mission and embrace people. There are many of these, but the means to the ends vary widely.
2.  Churches must realize people are not all the same and don’t need a church with a narrow focus.
3.  Churches must admit they don’t know what is best for each individual.
4.  Churches must admit they are not the authority on spiritual matters, so they should not require a system that members must follow to receive the benefits of the church.
5.  Churches should respect people as they are, not assume it can make you better.

This may lead to the question, why have church at all? I see them as places where people of differing political POVs and cultures can come together for shared values that transcend those limits. I don’t think civic organizations can replace some of the aspects of church, such as community support and celebrations.

Anyway, there you have it.

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Posted: 06 September 2013 01:52 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]
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MikeYohe - 10 August 2013 10:12 PM

Hakeem,

Unless one can verify the scholarly approval of the website (or any other sources )one
refers to, it should be questioned.

I find that to be a big problem.
What I found that helps if there are to many hits is to use site:edu or site:gov. And set the date for the last month.

That is one way. But there are other sites as well.

For example. Prof Bart Ehrman (Biblical scholar) has his own blogspot
http://ehrmanblog.org/

 

Lausten - 11 August 2013 03:30 PM

Then I realized I now had not spent much time in my life developing a system of truth seeking or how to defend any particular action I might take as “moral”. I looked into UU, Taoism, Buddhism, tried to filter out the myth of Christianity and find some actual law, that all failed. I discovered the first Golden Age of Islam, where the works of Plato and Aristotle were preserved, but I also saw how that collapsed. Sam Harris and Richard Carrier turned out to be the best living sources, with their ideas based on Locke, Hume, Spinoza, etc.

 


Well to start off I respect your willingness to actually study before deciding a faith.  You are not a blind follower which I respect.

But to better understand your position I want to know what is the “ultimate criteria” for knowing if something is true/false.


Example:

Christians will give different reasons as to why they believe what they do:

Some may say it is because the “bible has changed so many lives for the better” or “Jesus is too merciful and kind to reject”

Others are more critical and will say “Studies done by Dan Wallace have shown t that there is archeological evidence to show Christ rose from the dead”

 

While I disagree with both, the premise of each is quite different. The criteria vary from person to person.
So I want to know what your criteria is.


Personally, if someone makes a claim to a religion one needs to see if there is no emprical error (historical, scientific, etc) in it.
On top of that, there needs to be a “special quality” (some may call it a miracle) which proves that the religious claim is true.

I do not think one should use rely too heavily on moral compasses to judge the truth of religion because that is subjective. 
That is not to deny its importance however.

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Posted: 06 September 2013 08:55 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 23 ]
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Lausten - 15 August 2013 06:13 AM
Lois - 15 August 2013 05:55 AM
Lausten - 13 August 2013 04:50 PM

Can you give some examples of things that can’t be questioned or altered in any way?

If you don’t believe Christ died on the cross, you’re not a Christian. Usually you also have to believe in some sort of resurrection.

The Koran can’t be altered.

Aboriginal cultures usually have sacred places, where you are supposed to only act in certain ways or only be there under certain circumstances.

A sweat or a meditation or even a sermon is sacred time. There are rules about how you act in those times.

While it’s true that if you accept a premise 100% you can’t question it and still accept it. It doesn’t mean you can never question it or that people who have never accepted the premise can’t question its validity.

Lois

We were originally talking about what “sacred” meant. Sacred is only sacred to a certain group. Outsiders can respect the sacredness of the group, but that’s different than holding it sacred. Obviously, they could also question it, I’m not sure why you pointed that out.


I pointed it out because it is a situation that should be revealed and not hidden. If their religion is telling them to not question certain things and threatening them with punishment for questioning what it preaches, it is doing tremendous damage. That you criticized my pointing it out makes it look as if you are ok with not questioning and threatening retribution to anyone who does.

Lois

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Posted: 28 September 2013 11:08 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 24 ]
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Yup, anyone who tries to have a closed mind and teach it to others is indeed doing a big harm. Whether all religions or some of them teach this I dont know, but its undeniable that every
country or culture has its close minded weirdos.

There was even an interesting discussion on this in another post.

http://www.centerforinquiry.net/forums/viewthread/16041/P75/

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Posted: 28 September 2013 05:39 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 25 ]
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Not sure why I didn’t respond to Lois earlier, must have been something else going on.

I’m not okay with anything that is considered sacred but can be shown to be harmful. I did not include the affects of sacredness in my definition. There is nothing intrinsically harmful about sacredness. A mountain can be considered sacred and the benefits of keeping it pristine will most likely outweigh the benefits of exploiting its resources. A sanctuary can be considered sacred, and as long as there’s no funny business going on in there, it can have value as a safe place.

I agree that if the idea of sacredness becomes corrupted, so the intent overrides the welfare of people, that’s a problem. This happens all the time in religion of course. I assume that is what you were speaking to. I could have qualified “can’t be questioned” so it didn’t mean never ever under any circumstances even if the civilization is threatened can it be questioned.

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Posted: 27 January 2014 10:20 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 26 ]
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I want to share my thoughts on how moderates are part of the problem and how we could deal with them.

Every time we confront religious groups in our communities over yet another atrocity blame is deflected.  We are told that the majority of people in the religion are moderates and not extremists.  We should not be blaming the religion.

For example, In Jamal Smith’s article “Don’t blame the Religion, Blame the Culture” said

More often than not, these people are minorities in their religious communities, who unfortunately for the majority, have loud voices. To defend their efforts and their reputation from these groups demanding sole attention, many more moderate, peace-minded people often say that extreme behaviors like honor killings, beheading, and familial abuse are the results of the culture that the religion lives in.

http://www.examiner.com/article/don-t-blame-the-religion-blame-the-culture Oct 9 , 2013 accessed 28 January 2014.

I don’t buy this argument it is a stumbling block that causes the problem not to be addressed.

So who is to blame?  Let’s look at it from a health and safety aspect.  Australia has recently upgraded its health and safety laws.  Under these laws individuals are responsible for hazards at work.  If you see a problem it is your responsibility to notify someone, address the issue or be fined or jailed.  Work place accidents can now cause executives to be personally fined $600,000 and/or face jail.  Ignoring safety issues is no longer a choice for Australian workers.  The arrangement even extends to visitors to places of work who need to be briefed in safety.  Everyone needs to be aware of safety issues, look for them and address them.

So what would happen if we applied this to religion?  What if religious organisations had to be responsible for the criminal / terrorist acts of their members?  What are moderates doing to identify, prevent, oppose or eliminate the extremists in their organisations who are a safety concern to the public?

For example Bob and Jane stalk and kill an abortion clinic doctor because their religion forbids abortion as preached by their religion.  The investigation reveals that sermons in that religion do in fact portray a message of anti-abortion, that Bob and Jane were devout members of the religion, that Bob and Jane were seen to have some extreme views and the religion did nothing to correct them.  Then I would expect that the church has unsafe preaching practices which led to extreme views that the religion did nothing to correct or prevent and thus committed a criminal act and/or become liable for civil damages that would be applied up through the chain of command.

If this was to be the case religions would have to put a check on their practices and procedures.  They could have their fire and brimstone messages, tell people that abortions were a sin against god that homosexuals would go to hell or that a Muslim girl must not sleep with another man.  But then they would have to counter it by telling their parishioners that, being moderates, they could not / should not take their gods law into their own hands to do anything about it.  They would have to identify the “extremists” making statements that they should and deal with them, disassociate them, inform the authorities about them, in short deal with them.
And why not, religious organisations operate tax free and should take on the responsibility for the actions of their members.  They preached to them, they instructed them, they wound the up emotionally and yet fail to identify the extremists or put a check on extremist preaching.

Would this be too much to ask for everyone’s health and safety?

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Posted: 28 January 2014 02:25 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 27 ]
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markc - 27 January 2014 10:20 PM

I want to share my thoughts on how moderates are part of the problem and how we could deal with them.

Every time we confront religious groups in our communities over yet another atrocity blame is deflected.  We are told that the majority of people in the religion are moderates and not extremists.  We should not be blaming the religion.

For example, In Jamal Smith’s article “Don’t blame the Religion, Blame the Culture” said

More often than not, these people are minorities in their religious communities, who unfortunately for the majority, have loud voices. To defend their efforts and their reputation from these groups demanding sole attention, many more moderate, peace-minded people often say that extreme behaviors like honor killings, beheading, and familial abuse are the results of the culture that the religion lives in.

http://www.examiner.com/article/don-t-blame-the-religion-blame-the-culture Oct 9 , 2013 accessed 28 January 2014.

I don’t buy this argument it is a stumbling block that causes the problem not to be addressed.

So who is to blame?  Let’s look at it from a health and safety aspect.  Australia has recently upgraded its health and safety laws.  Under these laws individuals are responsible for hazards at work.  If you see a problem it is your responsibility to notify someone, address the issue or be fined or jailed.  Work place accidents can now cause executives to be personally fined $600,000 and/or face jail.  Ignoring safety issues is no longer a choice for Australian workers.  The arrangement even extends to visitors to places of work who need to be briefed in safety.  Everyone needs to be aware of safety issues, look for them and address them.

So what would happen if we applied this to religion?  What if religious organisations had to be responsible for the criminal / terrorist acts of their members?  What are moderates doing to identify, prevent, oppose or eliminate the extremists in their organisations who are a safety concern to the public?

For example Bob and Jane stalk and kill an abortion clinic doctor because their religion forbids abortion as preached by their religion.  The investigation reveals that sermons in that religion do in fact portray a message of anti-abortion, that Bob and Jane were devout members of the religion, that Bob and Jane were seen to have some extreme views and the religion did nothing to correct them.  Then I would expect that the church has unsafe preaching practices which led to extreme views that the religion did nothing to correct or prevent and thus committed a criminal act and/or become liable for civil damages that would be applied up through the chain of command.

If this was to be the case religions would have to put a check on their practices and procedures.  They could have their fire and brimstone messages, tell people that abortions were a sin against god that homosexuals would go to hell or that a Muslim girl must not sleep with another man.  But then they would have to counter it by telling their parishioners that, being moderates, they could not / should not take their gods law into their own hands to do anything about it.  They would have to identify the “extremists” making statements that they should and deal with them, disassociate them, inform the authorities about them, in short deal with them.
And why not, religious organisations operate tax free and should take on the responsibility for the actions of their members.  They preached to them, they instructed them, they wound the up emotionally and yet fail to identify the extremists or put a check on extremist preaching.

Would this be too much to ask for everyone’s health and safety?

Yes it is too much to ask, and it would never work.

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Posted: 28 January 2014 07:18 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 28 ]
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Welcome to the forum markc. Midatlantic might be right, but I’m not so quick to dismiss the idea. The idea of trying to find someone actually culpable for inciting terrorism is extremely problematic, beyond the obvious Osama bin Laden type characters who are specifically directing the actions of others. This could backfire too. Martin Luther King would have been responsible for a lot of trespassing and civil disobedience.

The concept is sound however and is being put in practice. Retired Bishops organize and speak up on issues, saying things that would have got them defrocked. Denominations use their internal systems for change, sometimes this works, sometimes it ends up in a new splinter of Protestantism. Muslims don’t have the same central controls that Christians do, but moderates seem to be getting more press lately.

I think the most likely thing that can be addressed is the definition of a church. Scientology has been challenged in the UK. I’m sure a lot of people would like to take away the Westboro Baptist’s church designation. The trouble of course is, to do it, you have to define Christianity. There is no way to do that within most denominations, let alone doing it across them. But, I still think forcing the conversation brings up a lot of good discussion. So, although midatlantic is right, it will never happen, putting these ideas out there will cause something to happen, and that can only be good.

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Posted: 28 January 2014 03:50 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 29 ]
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Lausten wrote:

The trouble of course is, to do it, you have to define Christianity. There is no way to do that within most denominations, let alone doing it across them.

Actually, if you study the different mainline evangelical Protestant denominations, you will notice that, when it comes to primary doctrines they agree.  It’s the secondary doctrines which cause disputes.  But all agree on these:

God exists eternally as a Trinity, God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.  A Trinity is defined as one God existing in three persons.

Christ came to earth as God Incarnate, being 100 per cent man and 100 per cent God at the same time.

Christ was born of a Virgin.

Christ died on the cross, was resurrected from the dead, and ascended to heaven.

Christ’s death and resurrection atoned for the sins of humanity.

Salvation is given to all those who accept Christ’s death and resurrection in faith and salvation is by Christ alone.

Christ will return in the future to deal with evil once and for all.

The secondary issues they disagree on include things such as baptism (by full immersion vs. sprinkling, as an infant vs. adult), gifts of the spirit (ceased in the apostolic days vs. currently in use), etc.  The secondary issues are just that—secondary.  It’s the primary doctrines that one must hold to to be a Christian.

However, as to how we’re defining the word “Christian”, it involves more than simply mental acceptance of the primary doctrines.  To be a Christian is to be in a relationship with God through the person of Jesus Christ by the infilling of the Holy Spirit.  Plenty of people can sit in a church, listen to the sermons, sing the hymns, etc. without ever entering into that relationship with makes them Christians in name only, not in fact.

If you have been studying other religions, Lausten, did you note that non-Christian religions are all about trying to earn salvation through good deeds or performing rites?  Christianity is the only one in which salvation is given as a gift.  This is because we are all born with sin natures which we cannot change.  That’s why we can’t earn salvation.  That’s why we need Christ’s righteousness exchanged for our sins.  That’s why Christ and Christ alone saves.

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Posted: 28 January 2014 06:26 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 30 ]
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Absolutely everything you said was created well after the time of the original writing of the gospels, except the virgin birth and the resurrection, which were not in the first gospel written, Mark. According to the NIV study Bible, the resurrection verses were added on to Mark hundreds of years later due to their disagreement with the other 3. Baptism caused one of the major schisms, so it may seem secondary today, but it was huge when in the time of the Anabaptists.

If you forced everyone who goes to church today to really declare their relationship with God, publicly witness to it, the number of “real” Christians would drop dramatically. And your last paragraph shows complete lack of awareness of one of the oldest debates, started in the NT, that of faith vs works. Not to mention original sin, something my most recent pastor called abhorrent. But I guess he’s just one of those Christians in name only.

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