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Posted: 03 February 2008 11:01 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 76 ]
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Jackson “We have a philosophical or at least semantic disagreement”

I disagree, I think we have a factual disagreement - where in the bible does it say in the texts for Christians to be “liberal”, “moderate” or “democratic”? NOWHERE!

Many Christians would consider these types of Christians to be “cafeteria Christians” picking and choosing what they like only to leave what they don’t like behind. That’s not true moderation, that’s simply half-assed Christianity. Lets call it what it really is and “moderate” is not it. That would be a glorified term used to replace “half-assed.” This is why Christians follow or try to elect those leaders who actually have the courage of their convictions. Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell etc. come to mind.

And I’ll agree that many Christians practice Christianity in this way today but the texts have not changed, people have. Where is the New, moderate, democratic version of the New Testament? Nowhere, they’re still using a similar bible like the Catholic church used during the Inquisitions.

Jackson “Christians don’t tolerate slavery today, but slavery was accepted at the time of Christ.  It was kind of a difficult transition.”

Slavery? Why didn’t Jesus put an end to slavery? Why didn’t God include it in the 10 Commandments?

According to Jesus, how should slaves be treated?

“They should be beaten for disobedience, but not more severely than they deserve.—Jesus never denounced slavery: he endorsed it! He incorporated it into his teachings as if it were the most natural order (which it was for the biblical writers who didn’t know any better). Why doesn’t the bible—supposedly inspired by an all-loving deity—ever hint that there is something wrong with such a brutal social institution? If it were not for the influence of the bible (see answer ‘d’ below), the appalling American slave trade might have been curtailed, along with the bloody Civil War.

“And that servant, which knew his lord’s will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes.” (Luke 12:47-48) The entire context (Luke 12:41-48) shows that this is not part of a parable—it is the explanation of a parable, after Peter asked a question. But even if it were a parable, it would carry the same weight as a teaching of Jesus.

The word “servant” above is doulos, which means “slave” in Greek, and is correctly rendered “slave” by the NRSV, NAS, Scholar’s Version, and others. “Shall” meant “should,” as Jesus adds: “For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required.” (Luke 12:48)

Jesus incorporated slavery into his parables as if it were the most natural order, only cautioning masters to beat some slaves less severely than others (Luke 12:46-47). The Heaven’s Gate cult, like Origen, accepted Jesus’ advice: “There be eunuchs which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.” (Matthew 19:12)
http://www.ffrf.org/quiz/

“Religion has been used to justify war, slavery, sexism, racism, homophobia, mutilations, intolerance, and oppression of minorities. The totalitarianism of religious absolutes chokes progress.” http://www.ffrf.org/nontracts/freethinker.php

Jackson “religions ‘evolve’”

Is it the religion that has evolved or rather, the people themselves? The Idea that Christianity has become moderate is based in euphoria. The texts haven’t changed (bad translations, errors, forgeries aside) only SOME of the interpretations have and this has happened largely due to outside pressure - PEOPLE. The first 4 of the 10 Commandments are theological directives that are unconstitutional and only 3 are actual laws. People and society has changed and therefore Christians (PEOPLE) had to make the necessary adjustments. Not the other way around. To proudly proclaim that Christianity is democratic and moderate is to give it undue credit that it does not deserve - thank the PEOPLE who helped to make those necessary adjustments, not the bible.

A Constitution that conforms to Biblical Law will rely on the Ten Commandments of the Old Testament as its guiding source. Dominionist lawmakers are trying to pass legislation in various state legislatures that would allow government posting of the Ten Commandments in public buildings.

What is the real motivation behind the Ten Commandments campaign? The Ten Commandments are the foundation of Biblical Law, so placing them in public buildings has great symbolic value to Christians. It represents the supremacy of the Bible over the U.S. Constitution. The principle of religious liberty has become the legal tool used to make the U.S. Constitution conform to Biblical Law. http://www.theocracywatch.org/biblical_law2.htm#Ten

“Why The Ten Commandments Shouldn’t Be Posted In Government Buildings”
http://www.au.org/site/PageServer?pagename=resources_faq_10Cs

“What’s Wrong With the Ten Commandments?”
http://ffrf.org/nontracts/10comm.php

“When you consider that God could have commanded anything he wanted—anything!—the Ten [Commandments] have got to rank as one of the great missed moral opportunities of all time. How different history would have been had he clearly and unmistakably forbidden war, tyranny, taking over other people’s countries, slavery, exploitation of workers, cruelty to children, wife-beating, stoning, treating women—or anyone—as chattel or inferior beings.”
~ Katha Pollitt

[ Edited: 03 February 2008 11:54 AM by Freethinkaluva ]
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Posted: 03 February 2008 12:32 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 77 ]
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freethinkaluva, you seem to be suggesting that there is some real, objective standard against which Christianity can be measured.  What is that standard?

No, the text of the Bible has not substantially changed.  Yes, people are constantly reinterpreting it.  But the Bible is certainly open to many interpretations.  Some passages are obviously allegorical (e.g., the Song of Solomon), some may be literal, some are prophetic or mystical, etc.  Unless you actually believe in this stuff, how can you say which interpretation is the “true” Christianity and which is “half-assed” (to use your delightful term)?  Maybe the moderates have it right.  Maybe it’s the fundamentalists that are “half-assed” in their interpretation, by rejecting the many passages where God is described as merciful and loving, and where Jesus preaches pacifism.

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Posted: 03 February 2008 12:46 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 78 ]
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A lot of Christians blatantly go against the Bible and re-invent everything so it fits the morality that has been cultivated by secularism/humanism/pluralism.

The Bible says a lot of things, some of those things are that God will spit out those of lukewarm faith, that many Christians will come to Jesus and Jesus will rebuke them and say he never knew them, that many Christians would be deceived and so on and that God would separate the wheat from the chaff. The Bible makes it extraordinarily clear that not all Christians are Christians and that Faith, not logic or knowledge are the things God wants.

We should be should be honest here and really point out that the lengths to which liberal Christians go to to reform God are long and arduous, often ignoring entire lengths of scripture while, seemingly out of no where, accepting others.  I can understand that they want a life affirming belief to hang on to, but Christianity is a plague and it’s like trying to grab hold of a piece of flesh that hasn’t been corrupted yet when the entire host is infested and dying.

Given the what has to be done to make Christianity palatable, why not preach and cling to the Iliad or The Taming of the Shrew, or how about the Dhammapada, the Art of War, the Tao Te Chi, or the Prince and so on.

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Posted: 03 February 2008 12:57 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 79 ]
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Freethinkaluva - 03 February 2008 11:01 AM

Jackson “We have a philosophical or at least semantic disagreement”

I disagree, I think we have a factual disagreement - where in the bible does it say in the texts for Christians to be “liberal”, “moderate” or “democratic”? NOWHERE!

 

... hey ... I don’t disagree with your facts. I’m not an apologist for Christians. I agree with more than one poster that a liberal and moderate Christian who still believes in an active deity is still deluded in that area.  I agree that there is a contradiction between their liberal and moderate beliefs and actions, and the literal underpinnings of their religion.

It is this contradiction which ultimately shifts us toward secularism.

Dawkins refers to this in his book the God Delusion, which I’ll paraphrase—one group of readers which he targets in this book are moderate/liberal Christians who actually haven’t given a lot of thought to these contradictions—their day to day lives and even attendance at their particular Sunday Church do not pull them into contradictions. 

Now getting back to your post.  Roman Catholics did not intially consider Protestants ‘Christians’, although today most people agree that these are two branches of Christianity with common roots.  To carry this further “cafeteria Christians” are still Christians.  That’s why I called it a semantic disagreement.

I also agree at least in part with your comment on moderation—and this echos something Sam Harris has said—that in just ‘ignoring’ the radical, outdated, and frankly inhumane aspects of Christianity and Islam, moderates are not providing a solution to the problem (and may allow radical elements to self-nurture through their tolerance).

John Shelby Spong is an example Mriana and I have pointed to of a liberal Christian theologian calling for a more extensive shift in what it means to be Christian—jettisoning the baggage.  This view treats Jesus Christ and scripture as more of a metaphor, and Spong has argued (to oversimplify) that this might actually be closer to the roots of Christianity—and that taking so much of it literally was a great mistake.

To run on a little more, there are a number of definitions of what makes you a ‘Christian’. One is that someone baptised you—you can answer YES to a census if you’ve been baptised, even if you are totally ignorant about everything. Another definition is whether you agree with the Nicene Creed http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicene_Creed

That’s what I’d suggest—maybe you have a better suggestion.

Anyway, if you read the Nicene Creed (for better or worse) it means you believe in God and Jesus and the Holy Ghost.  It mentions a few things in the New Testament you agree with. But it doesn’t require you to believe the Old Testament is literally true or to believe {I think} any of the miracles in the New Testament, except that Jesus was resurrected. 

It is possible to believe in the Nicene Creed but also believe that the Old and New Testaments were written by just-plain-people who did not get their facts straight, so that there is very little that one can be sure of.    And still be a Christian.


But I am not sure if this is really off the track you were pursuing, and if so I apologize.

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Posted: 03 February 2008 02:29 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 80 ]
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Jackson - 03 February 2008 12:57 PM

John Shelby Spong is an example Mriana and I have pointed to of a liberal Christian theologian calling for a more extensive shift in what it means to be Christian—jettisoning the baggage.  This view treats Jesus Christ and scripture as more of a metaphor, and Spong has argued (to oversimplify) that this might actually be closer to the roots of Christianity—and that taking so much of it literally was a great mistake.

And sadly my dear Bishop Spong, who I deem the title to in respect not for any religious views, has had death threats because of his humanistic and religious views- from Christians.  These people give Xianity a bad name and instill fear in those who don’t share their views.  I agree that taking it literally is a grave mistake because it is metaphor and allegory.  I know I’ve said it before some where on the board, but Dawkins on p 237 of the God Delusion shows Spong respect too.  When you read Spong’s books, there are moments he sounds like a Humanist.  I think his views have potential for those who feel the need to hold on to a god concept.  His views are more humane and less supernatural than traditional Christianity.  More tolerable too, for that matter.

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Posted: 03 February 2008 04:08 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 81 ]
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The sad fact of the matter is that Spong is the exception to the rule, and the ones threatening death to him are much more representative of the average xian.

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People say we need religion when what they really mean is we need police.—H.L. Mencken
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Posted: 03 February 2008 07:00 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 82 ]
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Again, some really good posts here.

Very well said Jackson (post 79). I think we could find some common ground there. I guess it depends on the argument one chooses to make - if one wants to make the argument for a moderate Christianity one may find a way to make a case. While another holds the view that there is no democratic, moderate Christianity, one may use scripture to make a strong case - even of Jesus or God. They seemed to be against a democratic, moderate Christianity in some scriptures as “Goodthink” (post 78) points out and reminds me.

Which leads me to Ron’s comment in #77. He makes an outstanding point with the idea of a standard against which Christianity can be measured. What yard stick can we use to determine if a religion (in this case, Christianity) is truly moderate or not?

I’m just gonna toss out a few thoughts off the top of my melon just to get us started:

* First, we would need to have agreement on the definition of moderate and the same with a definition of democratic.

* Second, we need to separate the texts which we agree have not really changed much, from society and people who do change and evolve.

* Third, check the scriptures for words from God or Jesus pushing for a moderate, democratic Christianity vs. scriptures declaring the opposite. Maybe this will help us out a bit, we’ll just need to find all of the moderate, liberal and democratic scriptures and tally them up - “Which is more violent, the Bible or the Quran?”

* Fourth, has Christianity made necessary adjustments and corrections in scripture where it was found to be non-authentic?

* Fifth, the areas to investigate to see if any moderate or democratic changes have occurred would be the popular long-time tenets of the faith. Such as the Nicene Creed, 10 Commandments, and End Times prophecies which we are told predict the mass genocide of 2/3rds of the planets human population i.e., all of the non-believers.

* Sixth, where is the observable and verifiable evidence demonstrating Christianity or Islam as a whole to be moving in a moderate, democratic direction? Where is the evidence demonstrating that God, Jesus, Allah and Muhammad have asked them to do so?

Anything else to add?  I’m sure there is but so much could be left up to interpretation. Lets try to keep it as simple and scientific as possible.

[ Edited: 04 February 2008 09:35 AM by Freethinkaluva ]
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Posted: 03 February 2008 07:54 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 83 ]
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A Call for a New Reformation, by Spong.  It doesn’t deal with the 10 Commandments, but it does deal with the crucifixion, theism is dead, the biblical story as myth, resurrction, etc

7. Resurrection is an action of God. Jesus was raised into the meaning of God. It therefore cannot be a physical resuscitation occurring inside human history.

and other things.

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Posted: 04 February 2008 08:29 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 84 ]
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I notice that some like to talk about “moderates” as those who don’t practice their religion or twist their religion to resemble reasonable reality-based humanism. I have no problem with this rough way of speaking and I do it all the time for convenience. However, do we not agree that religion is still problematic because of what it would mean if actually followed?

Let me ask the reverse. What would people say if someone came along and said a “moderate” secular humanist was someone who did not follow the dictates of reason, prayed to God on Sundays just to be safe, followed his astrological charts and tossed the I Ch’ing? Would one accept the argument: “let’s not over generalize, not all secular humanists reject God or seek rational/empirical confirmation of their ethical/political ideas?”

Surely one doesn’t judge a philosophy (religious or secular) by what the adherents do but by what they adherents should do if they followed the philosophy. If one wanted to understand the ideas of Aristotle would one read Aristotle or study self-proclaimed Aristotelians? One, of course, might do both but in commenting on philosophy one does the former. Indeed, you’d have to know what Aristotle said before you could tell if some self-proclaimed Aristotelian was indeed understanding The Philosopher’s ideas.

I think Freethinkaluva approach is sound. Look at Mohammad as illustrated in the texts to understand Islam. With religion, I find that there is far less ambiguity than many want to believe, at least when it comes to the salient features. The details don’t obscure the essential irrational and illiberal nature of these creeds. To me it is fairly obvious what a rejection of reason means in practice. I don’t see the problem with Freethinkaluva’s line of reasoning.

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Posted: 04 February 2008 10:11 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 85 ]
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OK lets look at what would happen if one actually followed the Bible and the message of Christ.

1) Thoughtcrime. The mere thought of certain actions is the same as committing them. There is no gray area here. Lust after a woman, commit adultery.
2) No Democracy. The Bible demands a theocracy and at best fuedal kingships. There are no references to any form of democracy and certainly no pluralism.
3) No Pluralism. There is only One True God, YHWH is his name. Anyone following another god should be put to death (OT)
4) Unruly kids put to death (OT).
5) Homosexuals put to death (OT).
6) People who eat lobster put to death (OT).
7) people who wear mixed clothing, put to death (OT)
8) Atheists, “pagans”, “heathen”, “apostates”, and “heretics” put to death (OT).
9) Witches put to death (OT).
10) THe idea of loving your neighbour, extends to other Jews, no one else.
11) We’d have slaves, and slave ownership would be morally accepted
12) Mass genocides based on faith and ethnicity would be acceptable (OT,NT)

Now many people argue, the OT isn’t the NT and the OT isn’t the message of Jesus who created a new covenant. This ignores 2 things.

1) The god of the OT *IS* Jesus. The Bible tells us that no man has ever seen the father, that no man can get to the father accept through Jesus, and that Jesus is the Word of God. 

2) Jesus said not one jot or title of the Law would be removed until all things had come to pass. Now, some argue that meant, until Jesus was crucified. I would argue Jesus was refering to the Olivet Prophecy which concludes at the end of Revelations with a New Heaven and a New Earth appearing, for the old Heaven and Earth had passed away. interestingly enough, Jesus does state, that all thins must be fullfilled, that until Heaven and Earth pass away the law would stand.

So, we have a reformer who wanted to make Judaism stricter. We have an OT that is filled with grotesque things. I don’t think it is wrong to point out moderates willfully chose to ignore much of the Bible to get at their nuggets of truth.

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Posted: 04 February 2008 10:18 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 86 ]
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Freethinkaluva - 03 February 2008 07:00 PM

Which leads me to Ron’s comment in #77. He makes an outstanding point with the idea of a standard against which Christianity can be measured. What yard stick can we use to determine if a religion (in this case, Christianity) is truly moderate or not?

What I was actually getting at was, what yardstick can we use to determine if a religion, in this case Christianity, is truly Christian or not?  There is (to vastly oversimplify) moderate Christianity, and there is extremist Christianity—which one is “real” Christianity and which is cafeteria style?

My answer is that from my point of view neither is real, so it’s at best a moot point.  Each version is real according to its adherents, so I’ll leave it to them to slug it out—but if I had to pick sides, I’d back the moderates, not the extremists, because IMHO the moderates are closer to reality.  I wouldn’t waste my time delving into their Scripture and deciding on that basis, because I don’t regard their Scripture as authentic anyway.

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Posted: 04 February 2008 10:33 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 87 ]
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goodthink - 04 February 2008 10:11 AM

OK lets look at what would happen if one actually followed the Bible and the message of Christ. ...

I agree that no matter what way you slice it the Bible supports faith over reason and blind submission to authority. It is inherently illiberal. I may differ with you and accept that the NT supersedes the OT in some important ways. But in the end the dangers of faith and authoritarianism remain a lasting problem. I could add “if taken seriously” but surely that is how one assesses any belief system.

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Posted: 04 February 2008 02:38 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 88 ]
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Jason From NYC - 04 February 2008 10:33 AM
goodthink - 04 February 2008 10:11 AM

OK lets look at what would happen if one actually followed the Bible and the message of Christ. ...

I agree that no matter what way you slice it the Bible supports faith over reason and blind submission to authority. It is inherently illiberal. I may differ with you and accept that the NT supersedes the OT in some important ways. But in the end the dangers of faith and authoritarianism remain a lasting problem. I could add “if taken seriously” but surely that is how one assesses any belief system.

In what way does the NT superceede the OT? Jesus was a reformer who wanted to stop what he saw as the hypocracy in action and in purpose. The intent of the Law was being side step, so he “Wrote the Law on our hearts”.  I really am not sure, other than Jesus destroyed the idea family and abrogated all familial responsibility and told others to do the same, what differences there are, or rather what differences are more moderate than anything found in the OT.

Hileal summed up the Torah the same way Christ “did”. So even that bit of revelation already existed with the tradition of those who clung to the Pentateuch.

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Posted: 04 February 2008 02:45 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 89 ]
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Let’s not forget it was Jesus who came up with the lovely concept of roasting in a lake of fire for all eternity.

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Posted: 04 February 2008 03:27 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 90 ]
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Even early church fathers had problems with the concept of hell pushed by mostly Paul and John.  The things Jesus says about hell are ambigous to an extent.

Peter for example, thought god would hear the cries and lamenting from hell and be so moved as to abolish hell after a day and release everyone cast into her fires. His book, the Revelation of Peter, was considered heretical and they attempted to purge it.

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