How do Christians possibly rationalize these things?

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Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Mon 23 Jun, 2008 10:14 pm
@Aedes,
Quote:
Do you think there's a possibility you're just watering down the concept of being a Christian in order to fit your own ideals? In other words, maybe you're not really a Christian in the majority sense of the word, but still have some faith that you want to hold onto that's making you want to label yourself as such?


I doubt that. I think I also present evidence for the things I say, information other than 'I feel blah blah blah'.

Quote:
That said, the word Christian in the 100 AD context is NOT the same word as in the 2008 AD context. It's a historical belief system from a time with more diverse beliefs. But there are no more ebionites or gnostics. Someone can identify with the ebionites and call themselves that, but frankly that's a fringy solipsistic thing and it's not what Christianity contains anymore. Just as there are no more Jewish temple priests, no more sagisees and pharisees, etc.


You're right, faith traditions change over time, especially as they spread to new places and encounter unfamiliar cultures. And you're right about calling one's self an Ebionite or a Gnostic; these cultures died out hundreds of years ago. But what we can do is borrow from their doctrine, from their ideas, and use them in a modern context. The faith tradition changes, but what cuts off past incarnations from informing current incarnations?

Quote:
Incidentally, I doubt that any early Christian belief system denied the divinity of Jesus whatever way you define that word.


You mentioned one such group in your post - the Ebionites. According to the extant early Christian sources, they rejected the divinity of Jesus. Now, I'm not sure in what sense they rejected his divinity as they, obviously, considered him a great prophet.

Either way, what does divinity mean? What is the nature of Jesus' divinity?

Consider how Jesus is referred to in the Synoptic Gospels. Here is from Mark (Mathew has almost the identical event):

10:17 ...a man ...asked him, "Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?" 18 Jesus said to him, "Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone."

If Christians can have contradictory understandings of Jesus' divinity, I do not see how we can use 'belief in Jesus' divinity' as a necessary condition. Belief in Jesus' divinity is certainly a sufficient condition, though.
 
Zetherin
 
Reply Mon 23 Jun, 2008 10:29 pm
@Didymos Thomas,
Well, I'm curious as to a necessary condition, still.
 
boagie
 
Reply Mon 23 Jun, 2008 10:45 pm
@Aedes,
:)He is not a Christian, he is a heretic , with ambitions in the lens grinding field---- just yanking your chain Thomas!!!Very Happy A pantheist, are you a pantheist Thomas??
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Mon 23 Jun, 2008 10:49 pm
@Zetherin,
Christian - one who finds value in (at least some of) the teachings attributed to Jesus, and refers to these teachings as their primary source of spiritual guidance.

Not to try and set this into stone; I'm not sure I can even buy into this. But it's something to float out there for consideration, and something I think is probably close to a reasonable necessary condition.

My concern with the above is this: imagine someone who meets the qualifications presented above and studies his scripture. After some time of study and contemplation this individual begins studying the scripture of other traditions and quickly recognizes great spiritual value in non-Christian scripture X. Being well versed in his Christian scripture, the individual begins to reference scripture X more than his Christian scripture for spiritual guidance.

Is this individual still a Christian? Does he meet the qualifications above?

If the answers are yes and no respectively, then the above necessary condition does not work.

Quote:
He is not a Christian, he is a heretic , with ambitions in the lens grinding field---- just yanking your chain Thomas!!!Very Happy A pantheist, are you a pantheist Thomas??


There have been times when I would have been burned alive - or at least more careful with my words. Smile

Am I a pantheist? Probably, but pantheism and Christianity are not mutually exclusive, anyway.
 
boagie
 
Reply Mon 23 Jun, 2008 11:23 pm
@Didymos Thomas,
Smile
"The Truth Is One, The Sages Speak Of It By Many Names." Upanishads
 
Solace
 
Reply Mon 23 Jun, 2008 11:46 pm
@Mephistopheles phil,
Getting back to the original issue for this thread, essentially, how do Christians rationalize all the killing, raping, pillaging, and other nasty stuff frequently demonstrated in the Bible? Well, here's a simple, unorthodoxed, dare I say, laughable, even, way that I would rationalize it (bearing in mind that I don't claim to fit any criteria of "Christian", and as such, my rationalization wouldn't likely find much support among those who do consider themselves Christian...) but here's what it boils down to, "If you're not with us, you're against us." This notion that everyone is God's child and that all men are equal in God's sight is a relatively new idea. The people who wrote the scriptures, and the people who lived in those days, even, believed they were unique, set apart, basically, better than other people. So they had no qualms about killing, raping, pillaging, or any of that other fun stuff.

Now, don't misunderstand me, I'm not advocating this way of thinking. All I'm saying is that it's how these people believed. In fact, if you look at history, and not just Christian history, but pretty much any history where different cultures/religions clashed, a whole lot of people throughout history have held similar views that they were better, or that their way of doings things was superior, and thus granted them the right to mistreat other people.

So unless you actually are better than other people, I don't recomend mistreating others. Of course, if you actually are better than other people, you probably wouldn't. Sort of a catch-22.
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Mon 23 Jun, 2008 11:59 pm
@Solace,
Quote:
This notion that everyone is God's child and that all men are equal in God's sight is a relatively new idea.


"Our father, who art in Heaven..." - Jesus

He preaches "Our father" but does not limit the audience.

The idea is relatively new as of two thousand years ago.

Quote:
The people who wrote the scriptures, and the people who lived in those days, even, believed they were unique, set apart, basically, better than other people. So they had no qualms about killing, raping, pillaging, or any of that other fun stuff.


Believed who was unique? Didn't the Apostles preach throughout the known world, bringing the teachings of Jesus to many nations and many different people?

Quote:
Now, don't misunderstand me, I'm not advocating this way of thinking. All I'm saying is that it's how these people believed. In fact, if you look at history, and not just Christian history, but pretty much any history where different cultures/religions clashed, a whole lot of people throughout history have held similar views that they were better, or that their way of doings things was superior, and thus granted them the right to mistreat other people.


Sure, cultural interaction usually leads to prejudice among some of the population, but I do not see any evidence for this idea that the earliest Christians promoted the brutalization of other people. It's a hard sell "I'm better than all of you, I don't care if you're brutalized. Now, would you like to join my congregation?"

Not to say that no Christian ever uses the sort of justification you present - unfortunately, I've met some who promote that sort of thinking. Scary stuff. I just don't think we can, given the history, make any such accusation about the authors of the Gospels.

Oh, and if you were focusing more on the Old Testament, I'll leave that alone. I'd have to do some reading before I could really comment.
 
Zetetic11235
 
Reply Tue 24 Jun, 2008 12:56 am
@Didymos Thomas,
An attitude that considers onself as any better than anyone else is antithetical to the teachings of christ-love thy neighbor as thyself
It is simply not christian to commit any of the evil acts done in the name of christianity, but rather, it is human weakness, which bends under the weight of greed and laziness. It is not the philosophy and teachings of jesus which deserve attack, but the acts of men who claim to be just under his banner, somthing which I believe is actually adressed in the new testament, those who believe themslefs just in their actions and thus not accountable. The good things in christianity actually shaped western thought to a great extent away from the evils of ancient times and was the greatest proponent for human compassion in its time and after.

It seems that many of you are ignorant atheists who likely have not done a very thorough analysis of the actual writings in the new testament versus the acts done in their name, because if you had, you would have seen that the problem is a very human and very pervasive one rather than a problem of scripture or doctrine, The things under attack in theis forum are as follow:
Human Ignorance
Human greed
Human Calousness
Human Fear
Human love of comfort

All of these things give the emds and injustices sited and are the only things accusable of them, for it is only the weakness in man that can bring such horrors, and all true 'evils' spring from the human vices listed above. These traits are also attacked in the new testament. Go figure.

I may not believe in the metaphysical and supernatural considerations in the new testament as shown when taken literaly, however, I do find value in its teachings, though I am not a christian, nor a pantheist but still a skeptic and a positivist who refuses to make convictions lest a decision is necessary. I see the same value in many religions, and believe that there is a logcial basis to the values.
 
Solace
 
Reply Tue 24 Jun, 2008 12:59 am
@Didymos Thomas,
Sure "Our Father" doesn't limit the audience, but it doesn't set the audience either. So it doesn't automatically lend to the audience being completely open-ended. The Book of John also said, "For God so loved the world", which could easily be interpreted as better suggesting that everyone is equal in God's eyes than Jesus saying, "Our Father". But then, even that is only suggestive; after all, it only says he loved the world, not all the people in it.

Quote:

Believed who was unique? Didn't the Apostles preach throughout the known world, bringing the teachings of Jesus to many nations and many different people?



Well, it might have been Paul who coined the term "the Elect", but since his teachings found a rather widespread, receptive audience, it may be safe to say that a lot of early Christians thought of themselves that way. Now, that term, "the Elect", may be interpreted a good many ways, but it seems to suggest at least a certain amount of being different from other people.

I never said, nor did I even think it was insinuated, that the earliest Christians promoted brutality. I did make reference to Christian history, but that's a whole expanse of two thousand years. Christian teachings, like any teachings, often get left by the wayside when men of lesser character are left to determine the greater good.
 
Solace
 
Reply Tue 24 Jun, 2008 01:08 am
@Zetetic11235,
Zetetic11235,

how you can call people "ignorant atheists" in one breath, and then call yourself "a skeptic and a positivist" in another is completely beyond me. Climb down off that high horse you're on and see for a moment that all I attempted to do was exactly what the person who started this thread asked someone to do. Which, I might add, no one else even attempted to do! This makes me an ignorant atheist!?
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Tue 24 Jun, 2008 01:42 am
@Solace,
Quote:
Sure "Our Father" doesn't limit the audience, but it doesn't set the audience either.


That's exactly the point - no one is necessarily included nor anyone excluded, the message is for everyone - everyone is the child of God.

Quote:
But then, even that is only suggestive; after all, it only says he loved the world, not all the people in it.


Well, people certainly comprise the world.

Quote:
Well, it might have been Paul who coined the term "the Elect", but since his teachings found a rather widespread, receptive audience, it may be safe to say that a lot of early Christians thought of themselves that way. Now, that term, "the Elect", may be interpreted a good many ways, but it seems to suggest at least a certain amount of being different from other people.


And so ask the next logical question: what sort of difference?

The term originally referred to the people of Israel, God's chosen people. In the New Testament, the meaning changes to the object of God's mercy, those who will inherit eternal life. In the New Testament, from what I can tell, the term does not separate any nation or culture. The term does not seem to set some group as superior and another as inferior.

Quote:
I never said, nor did I even think it was insinuated, that the earliest Christians promoted brutality.


Then I take you back to your words:

"The people who wrote the scriptures, and the people who lived in those days, even, believed they were unique, set apart, basically, better than other people. So they had no qualms about killing, raping, pillaging, or any of that other fun stuff."

The bold is my own. The people who wrote the scripture are among the earliest Christians. Very few Christians prior to those men and women.

Quote:
how you can call people "ignorant atheists" in one breath, and then call yourself "a skeptic and a positivist" in another is completely beyond me. Climb down off that high horse you're on and see for a moment that all I attempted to do was exactly what the person who started this thread asked someone to do. Which, I might add, no one else even attempted to do! This makes me an ignorant atheist!?


I'm not sure Zetetic was referring to you specifically - personally, I think you make a good point as some Christians do use the line of thinking you provide to justify their beliefs.

There have been responses to the original post. The first couple of pages were fairly well on topic.
 
Solace
 
Reply Tue 24 Jun, 2008 07:53 am
@Didymos Thomas,
There were responses to the original question, yes, but I saw no attempt to justify the scripture, just attempts to deflect responsibility for claiming to believe the scriptures by ignoring those scriptures that cast the original doubt into the mind of the person who started the thread. And it is a doubt that is shared by many.

As for the message being for everyone, I could quote another scripture, "Many have been called, few have been chosen." Yes, the message is for everyone, but that doesn't mean that everyone is meant to understand it.

Dirt and stone and air and water and trees and animals, and so on and so forth, also comprise the world. There's nothing in the verse that signifies that God was making a distinction, nor that he wasn't making one.

As you say, in the OT the term was "God's chosen people". Do we assume that because of the New Testament God no longer chooses who is or isn't his child? If so, then let me remind you about the "few have been chosen" part. That's from the New Testament. If it doesn't make you different from others to be God's child, then why call yourself Christian? Why bother with a label, a distinction?

For me, what I am doesn't make me better than anyone else, but it certainly makes me different. It can't possibly make me better, because I had nothing to do with becoming what I am. God made the decision, not me.

Where this originally pure intention went remarkable awry was when people started thinking that they had something to do with their own salvation. Christianity began to teach that your actions make you a Christian, so that those who perceived themselves as doing those actions began to think that they accomplished something that other, shall we say, less capable human beings did not/could not accomplish. Thus pride entered the equation and the result became something unbecoming.
 
Solace
 
Reply Tue 24 Jun, 2008 08:00 am
@Didymos Thomas,
If Zetetic wasn't speaking about me personally then he should have clarified. Since his post was in direct reply to my post, I can only assume that when he used the pronoun "you" he must have been talking to and/or about me. Even if he wasn't, it is still backwardly contrived to call someone else ignorant and then call yourself a positivist, or even to say something negative of aethism and then call yourself a skeptic.
 
boagie
 
Reply Tue 24 Jun, 2008 08:36 am
@Solace,
Smile
If everyone at the outset is a child of god, what need then of the totalalitarian ambitions of Christianity, or any world religion for that matter. What they don't embrace they must smite, a lot of smiting going on.Very Happy



http://tbn0.google.com/images?q=tbn:00GxzAqqi7jinM:http://static.flickr.com/31/103059495_35bbd81900_m.jpg

Smile"Buddhism has the characteristics of what would be expected in a cosmic religion for the future: it transcends a personal God, avoids dogmas and theology; it covers both the natural & spiritual, and it is based on a religious sense aspiring from the experience of all things as a meaningful unity" - Albert Einstein
 
Solace
 
Reply Tue 24 Jun, 2008 08:57 am
@boagie,
I agree with boagie. And it suggests that Christians don't actually believe that everyone is God's child, they just like to pretend they do. Cause, hey, we don't want to offend you while we smite you.
 
Zetetic11235
 
Reply Tue 24 Jun, 2008 11:38 am
@Solace,
I wasnt refering to you solace, in that post, but rather the general subgroup of atheists whom have stumbled into it and come with shallow presumptions and a weak base. I do not see how doubting certain empirical evidence(scientific skepticism) and believing sense data to be the only thing which can affirm knowledge(positivism) bars me from claiming that someone is ignorant within the bounds of the definition if they have empirically proven that such a word is applicable to them. Personally, since god cannot be proven nor disproven in my mind(nor anyone elses as of yet lest they trick themselfs and redefine god such that it lessens its significance), it seems just as silly to deny his/her/its existence as to affirm it. Once again though, to ponder it is fine, but one cannot take faith in one side unless they choose to do so without proof or weak self deluding argument.

My only real point in the afformentioned post was that it seems that all the problems adressed on this thread boil down to human folly in general rather than a group or teaching. If one religious text were not involved, it would be another and there would still bethoose who fear science because they do not understand it and those who use widely held belifes to their benefit. I appoligize for coming off to you as a high and mighty naysayer, that was not my intent and I suppose that I should have been more clear.
 
Solace
 
Reply Tue 24 Jun, 2008 01:01 pm
@Zetetic11235,
Well, your argument this time around comes across much better. Doubting one type of empirical evidence, and then using another type of emipirical evidence to negatively portray a particular group does raise an eyebrow though. Your clarification of the use of the term skeptic is helpful. Before it seemed as though you were using it in a broader sense, which confused me, since atheists are, in a certain sense, the ultimate skeptics.

For the record, I agree with you for general purpose. The existence of a creator cannot be proven or disproven. Speculation is fine, as long as it remains that. There are people around here, and elsewhere, who like to make claims of certainty, ie: There is no God, or, I know God exists. Both ways of thinking, and especially of conversing, are screwed up.
 
Khethil
 
Reply Tue 24 Jun, 2008 02:41 pm
@Solace,
... which is why this entire issue comes down to belief; not knowledge as such.
 
Zetetic11235
 
Reply Tue 24 Jun, 2008 03:17 pm
@Solace,
Solace wrote:
Before it seemed as though you were using it in a broader sense, which confused me, since atheists are, in a certain sense, the ultimate skeptics.

This brings up another interesting point, how do you define atheist? There is a branch of 'fundamental'(in a certain sense) atheism that insists that it is correct and in asserting that god does not exist, becomes what it chastises. I think that Richard Dawkins falls into this camp, asserting that god and belief in god is not only silly, but dangerous(at least that is what I have gotten out of him). He seems to actually think that man holds the keys to unlocking every secret of the universe and can answer the ultimate question of "Why?" and in this belief system he simply creates a new theism where god is the ever elusive answer to our greatest and most tiemless questions.

This is a bastardisation of what atheists like Bertrand Russell believed. just read 'Why I am Not a Christian'. He admits that he cannot deny the possibility of a god as it cannot be proven, but that he chooses not to believe it because it cannot be proven to be so. of course, if you listen to Popper, you find that it is not proven if it is not proven false thus it comes down to faith. There are people out there who think god doesnt exist because evolution exists, I have met one. There are those who think that god is gone because they misunderstand nietszche,again, I have met one; hence an ignorant 'Atheist'. These 'Atheists' are not skeptics in any sense of the word.

Also, on a different note, I do not believe one can ultimately be a skepticist, for without faith that you can move your hand or see what you see you are incapacitated by doubt. Reductionist nihilism at its worst.
At its best, a good dose of skepticism can vitalize a field, just look at Einstein or Descartes or Socrates.
 
Solace
 
Reply Tue 24 Jun, 2008 03:29 pm
@Zetetic11235,
I gladly entertain atheists regularly, as I find that a good bit of what they have to say is far more pertinent than what religious folk talk about. But yes, some of them do take their convictions to a whole new level of persistence. I recently compared what one atheist on this site was saying to what the very relgious people he despised were saying, that the similarities between how they represent their respective points of view were remarkable. But, shall we say, less hard-nosed atheism is more about taking a skeptical view of God's existence rather than insisting vehemently that God does not, or even, cannot exist.
 
 

 
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