Concerning Paul

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Resha Caner
 
Reply Wed 24 Dec, 2008 08:23 pm
@Solace,
Solace wrote:
As for whether or not he'd tell us so, why would he need to? Any character within the book who, by design of the author, comes to realize that there is an author, should, by both natural reason and also further design of the author, understand that the author has interest in his creation, else he would not have bothered to write the book in the first place.


That's an interesting idea, but I don't think it holds. Had my earthly father not contacted or spoken to me since my birth, I wouldn't conclude: well, he must be interested in me because of the act of procreation. There were likely other motivations.
 
Resha Caner
 
Reply Wed 24 Dec, 2008 09:02 pm
@Didymos Thomas,
Didymos Thomas wrote:
Reshna, throughout our conversation you have avoided my arguments. If you will not address my points, why do you keep responding to my posts?


It seems we got off to a bad start. I'm trying to be careful so that nothing I say going forward will be taken as snarky. Keep that in mind.

So, in all honesty, IMO you haven't said anything yet. You reject what I say, but offer little in its place. My point is that I feel like I have made guess after guess to discern your point, but haven't found it yet. I'm tempted to ask if someone else would arbitrate and explain each of us to the other, because it doesn't seem to be working.

In most cases you want to use definitions so broad as to be (IMO) meaningless (or you, yourself, tell me a word is meaningless, and then offer nothing else, but leave it at that - it's meaningless). I understand that you have given a definition of "Christian", but so have I, and I doubt we'll come to an agreement.

So you think I am avoiding you. I am not. I could levy the same accusation, as there are statements I made to you that you have not answered. I can't force you to answer anything. It seems common practice in Internet forums that people answer those parts they see as weak and avoid the strong parts of an argument where they don't have a good answer. But I don't know you did that, and I'm not going to accuse you of it. Maybe you just felt certain statements were irrelevant.

What is it that you think I'm avoiding? The thing about how not all Christians could meet John personally while he was alive?

IMO you are trying to drive home an absurd point, hence I saw no point in answering. So let me give you a list of other possibilities:

1. A contemporary of John who wanted to meet him, and tried, but circumstances prevented their meeting. So, instead, he asked a friend for a copy of John's letters. Again, circumstances prevented the letters from ever arriving. Then the person died. Could he be a Christian?

2. Someone is living on an island that has never had evidence of Christianity. Then, a Bible washes up on shore, and by some miracle, the person can read it. But lo and behold, the gospel of John and John's letters were ripped out of it. Could these people be Christians?

3. A contemporary of John goes blind and deaf before meeting, reading, or hearing of him, so they can't read his letters or talk to him. Can this person be a Christian?

In all three cases, the answer is yes. You could probably think of more scenarios. I'm not addressing the absurd and extreme cases. What I had in mind when making my statement was someone who heard John speak or read his gospel and letters, and then decided to reject the message John carried. I am saying a Christian would not do that (but again, such rejection levies no judgement as per the discussion I've had with Whoever).

I expect you would object even to that, but I see nothing in the writings of John that would cause a Christian to reject them - they are consistent with the other books of the Bible.

Since you say some Christians do reject it, I ask you to quote me the section that leads them to reject John, and then explain to me why they reject it.

(edit) P.S. There is no "n" in my name. It's Resha, not Reshna. And, for that matter, most people call me "Caner" because "Resha" is a title, and "Caner" is a name. Even moreso, it's just a pseudonym. I didn't expect you to know any of that, just thought I'd mention it.
 
Solace
 
Reply Wed 24 Dec, 2008 10:00 pm
@Resha Caner,
Resha Caner wrote:
That's an interesting idea, but I don't think it holds. Had my earthly father not contacted or spoken to me since my birth, I wouldn't conclude: well, he must be interested in me because of the act of procreation. There were likely other motivations.


Is not the fact that he continues to write the story of my life in his book every day proof positive that I am of interest to him? It holds for me.
 
Resha Caner
 
Reply Wed 24 Dec, 2008 10:50 pm
@Solace,
Solace wrote:
Is not the fact that he continues to write the story of my life in his book every day proof positive that I am of interest to him? It holds for me.


That's poetic, but I'm not sure what it means. What does it mean that he "continues to write the story of your life"?
 
Solace
 
Reply Wed 24 Dec, 2008 11:22 pm
@Resha Caner,
Resha Caner wrote:
That's poetic, but I'm not sure what it means. What does it mean that he "continues to write the story of your life"?


Keeping to the analogy, it means simply that he directs and I respond. Sometimes I forget and let the cares of this life fill my mind. It's very easy to lose sight of the creator in the magnitude of his creation. But then he reminds me of what is true; that he is, therefore I am. And I see again that my life is a story written for his enjoyment, if not always necessarily mine.
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Thu 25 Dec, 2008 06:04 pm
@Solace,
Resha Caner wrote:

So, in all honesty, IMO you haven't said anything yet. You reject what I say, but offer little in its place. My point is that I feel like I have made guess after guess to discern your point, but haven't found it yet. I'm tempted to ask if someone else would arbitrate and explain each of us to the other, because it doesn't seem to be working.


My points thus far have been arguments against your claims - for example, you claimed that Christians must accept the Gospel of John, and I argued that the claim is false. I'm not here outlining some grand theology, I'm here contesting claims that you have made which seem to be inaccurate.

Resha Caner wrote:
In most cases you want to use definitions so broad as to be (IMO) meaningless (or you, yourself, tell me a word is meaningless, and then offer nothing else, but leave it at that - it's meaningless). I understand that you have given a definition of "Christian", but so have I, and I doubt we'll come to an agreement.


Yes, I have given you a definition of Christian, and I have also given you reasons as to why your definition of Christian does not pass muster. In response to my reasons you have given me absolutely nothing, except the insistence that we will not agree. Fine. If absolutely nothing could possibly change your mind about the matter, more power to you. Though, if this is the case, I am confused as to why you continue responding.

Resha Caner wrote:
So you think I am avoiding you. I am not. I could levy the same accusation, as there are statements I made to you that you have not answered. I can't force you to answer anything. It seems common practice in Internet forums that people answer those parts they see as weak and avoid the strong parts of an argument where they don't have a good answer. But I don't know you did that, and I'm not going to accuse you of it. Maybe you just felt certain statements were irrelevant.


Then shall we return to the topics at hand - what is and what is not a Christian?

Resha Caner wrote:
What is it that you think I'm avoiding? The thing about how not all Christians could meet John personally while he was alive?


Yes, there is that point, there is also the question of whether or not Christians must accept John's Gospel and the matter of Gnosticism.

Resha Caner wrote:
IMO you are trying to drive home an absurd point, hence I saw no point in answering. So let me give you a list of other possibilities:


Again, calling someone's perspective "absurd" is demeaning. Going back a couple of pages, this same issue came up - that of respect. I have not called your claims absurd or anything like that.

Resha Caner wrote:
In all three cases, the answer is yes. You could probably think of more scenarios. I'm not addressing the absurd and extreme cases. What I had in mind when making my statement was someone who heard John speak or read his gospel and letters, and then decided to reject the message John carried. I am saying a Christian would not do that (but again, such rejection levies no judgement as per the discussion I've had with Whoever).


And I am arguing that one who is familiar with John can reject John and still be a Christian.

Resha Caner wrote:
I expect you would object even to that, but I see nothing in the writings of John that would cause a Christian to reject them - they are consistent with the other books of the Bible.


John has a great many consistencies with the Synoptic Gospels, but also a great many inconsistencies. For example, the notion that Jesus is "the only begotten Son" is from John and is not found in the Synoptic Gospels.

However, I would also argue that a Christian can be a Christian and reject the entire Bible. I'm not singling out John - I'm saying that Christians do not have to accept any particular scripture in order to be a Christian; a Christian must simply rely primarily on teachings attributed to Jesus in order to be a Christian.

Resha Caner wrote:
Since you say some Christians do reject it, I ask you to quote me the section that leads them to reject John, and then explain to me why they reject it.


There is no monolithic reason as to why someone might reject John. However, I can give examples. As I mention above, there is the matter of Jesus being the "only Son of God" which a Christian might very well reject. One argument in favor of rejecting that particular theological assertion in John might be that in the Synoptic Gospels, Jesus calls the people to pray "Our Father" which suggests that we are all the children of God. As we are all the children of God, Jesus cannot be the "only Son" of God.

Christians might also doubt the authenticity of the text due to the date the text was written - much later than the Synoptic Gospels and later than some of the apocryphal Gospels, too.

Now, you can argue all day long that these reasons for rejecting John are suspect, but that would miss the point. I'm not saying that it is right to reject John, I'm only saying that Christians can reject John. And there is a difference.

This isn't a question of whether or not Christians should reject John or some other text, it's a question of whether or not Christians can reject John or some other text and still be a Christian. Historically, Christians can reject John and other texts and still be a Christian. They have done so in the past and continue to do so today.
 
Whoever
 
Reply Fri 26 Dec, 2008 10:19 am
@Resha Caner,
Resha Caner wrote:
Then you must have a short memory. Should I create a link for you? I did raise an objection, and your reply was: well, that's how you interpret it, but not me. If that is your answer, there isn't much more to talk about. It leads to the disagreement we have over definitions, which I think you said you don't wish to carry any further (though this has all become a bit mushy in trying to carry on 3 conversations at once).

Yes, please remind me. I can only remember you accusing it of heresy.


Quote:
This is semantics to some extent. I understand the importance of your distinction, but you make the distinction, and then go no further. That leads me to try to clarify which leads us into arguments over definition.

I said that I'm not looking for faith but for truth. If you think that the difference between these things is a matter of semantics then I can understand why gnosticsm seems such an odd idea to you.

Quote:
It might be more fruitful to answer the spirit of the question, making your qualifications where necessary. If you don't want to answer for whatever reason ... (shrug) OK.

Sorry. I thought a one sentence answer which was blunt and simple would do the trick. Which spirit would you have preferred me to answer in? Which qualifications did I forget to clutter it up with?

Quote:
Assumptions are inevitable in a conversation between two people who don't know each other.

Very true. This is why it is important not to read more into the words than is actually there.

Quote:
The church is not there to make any judgement of who is and is not damned. The Bible makes it clear that judgement is the domain of God.

Maybe so, but unfortunately this doesn't stop the church's officials making God's judgements for Him, and the persecution of the pagans and gnostics would be a paradigm example.

Quote:
Given that is the case, there are two poles when someone asks, "What must I do to inherit eternal life?" (a question quoted from the New Testament). In the first, you shrug and say: figure it out for yourself. In the second, you explain what God has revealed as an answer to that question - even going to the extent of correcting errors in the understanding of that revelation.

I can see that to you these are mutually exclusive strategies. But to me they are not. After all, how can you correct errors in someone elses' understanding of what God has revealed as an answer to a question if you yourself have not yet figured out what the answer to it is?

Quote:
As I see it, your gnostic view takes you toward the first pole, and my Christian view takes me toward the second pole (because of various commands given by Jesus).

Why must we polarise these approaches rather than let them complement each other?

Quote:
Since you do not want to argue the definition of Christianity (at least that is what I think you are saying), I don't see that we should continue to discuss whether gnosticism is consistent with Christianity.

Good idea. We can always come back to it.

Quote:
Instead, you seem more interested in a general philosophical case against gnosticism. Since I don't care about the topic apart from Christianity, I've never really tried such a thing, but maybe we could start here:

Once you know yourself, what have you achieved?

This is a great question and an excellent place to start. It cuts straight to the chase. As far as I can see a decent answer would have to be a long essay, but I'll have a stab at a short one. The answer is quite easy to find in the literature of mysticism but, of course, rather mysterious.

Perhaps in Christian terms a simple answer would be the Kingdom of Heaven, immortal life and salvation. Regrettably, I can't speak from experience. The idea would be that the knowledge we seek is already ours and that our search for it must be, as Plato concluded, a process of remembering. The universe would be a unity but not quite the unity proposed by monotheism. It would be Hegel's spiritual unity. As a fragment of that unity we would have direct and unmediated access to a knowledge of reality. This unmediated access would be gnosis or what Aristotle calls 'knowledge by identity.' Gnosis would differ from knowledge in that the latter depends on a duality of knower and known, someone who knows and what it is they know, where gnosis would be an identity of knower and known. It would be knowledge available to us simply by virtue of being who we are, something like the feeling of pain or the joy of happiness.
 
Resha Caner
 
Reply Fri 26 Dec, 2008 10:33 am
@Whoever,
Didymos Thomas wrote:
Again, calling someone's perspective "absurd" is demeaning. Going back a couple of pages, this same issue came up - that of respect. I have not called your claims absurd or anything like that.


You seem to assume the worst in what I say. May I remind you of the time I tried to agree with you, and you argued with me about it. I think my use of the word was justified, and I did not mean it as the attack you take it to be (I tried to say as much in my preface). So, let me respond in more detail to explain my meaning.

You had a worthy point about those who lived prior to the Gospel of John, and I gave you my answer. You found my answer unsatisfactory, and so I clarified. But to continue to press the point would be absurd. It would become a pharisaic discussion of ridiculous detail regarding how much effort I think one must expend in searching out John's writings to be certified as a Christian.

My point was that some may have been unaware or unable to converse directly with John or read his writings. That does not disqualify them. But I will not state the number of steps someone had to take before being allowed to give up their search the way Jewish law prescribes the number of steps one can take on the Sabbath without doing "work". If I did specify such a thing, it would be absurd. If you demanded I specify such a thing, it would be absurd. It was a neutral observation of where the conversation might possibly head, and I simply requested that we stop short of such nonsense.

I would prefer, instead, to talk about those who spoke with John or read his work and decided to reject him.

Didymos Thomas wrote:
I am confused as to why you continue responding.


I could ask the same of you. You imply that if my mind is not to be changed, then I should no longer reply. Is it possible your mind would be changed? Is it possible someone else's mind would be changed? As long as that possibility exists, I will continue to respond. There are many other reasons as well, which have nothing to do with changing people's minds. I want to be sure I have been clear. If not, I will respond to clarify, because a muddled argument is of no value to anyone. Finally, the possibility that some may find our discussion interesting(*) is reason enough to continue, whether we ever settle anything at all.

(*) Maybe "entertaining" would be a better word than "interesting". I find it humorous that a question about Paul has become a debate over John.

Didymos Thomas wrote:
Christians might also doubt the authenticity of the text due to the date the text was written - much later than the Synoptic Gospels and later than some of the apocryphal Gospels, too.

I don't find this a very compelling argument. Most scholars seem to date the Gospel of John to between 90 and 95 AD We know from comments of people such as Irenaeus that John returned to live in Ephesus after the death of Domitian, and that is when he wrote his gospel (Adv. haer., III, i, 1). If we date the death of Domitian to 96 AD, then John probably lived to somewhere near the turn of the first century.

As far as I am aware, arguments over the authenticity of John's gospel are fairly recent. I find that interesting. As I mentioned earlier, from the time of Irenaeus to Eusebius and much later, the authenticity was unquestioned. And it is not as if Eusebius and others simply took the Bible at face value. Eusebius questioned the authenticity of John's second and third epistles, but not his gospel. Luther did not want the book of James included in the canon (though I don't think he questioned it's authenticity). I don't have a problem with people asking questions about the authenticity of Biblical texts or other debates about why the canon was chosen as it was. I think it is a good thing, as it reinforces a deeper understanding of Christianity. But in this case I think the evidence is very convincing that John's gospel is authentic.

Didymos Thomas wrote:
There is no monolithic reason as to why someone might reject John. However, I can give examples. As I mention above, there is the matter of Jesus being the "only Son of God" which a Christian might very well reject. One argument in favor of rejecting that particular theological assertion in John might be that in the Synoptic Gospels, Jesus calls the people to pray "Our Father" which suggests that we are all the children of God. As we are all the children of God, Jesus cannot be the "only Son" of God.


I hope you are aware that this is a very selective reading of John which misrepresents his point. I assume you refer to verses such as John 1:14 and John 3:16. But also note John 1:12 (which comes right next to one of the "only son" statements) and 1 John 3:1. I will use the first reference, as they can be cited as one text:

"Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God ... We have seen this glory, the glory of the one and only Son ..."

So, John does not exclude us from being "children of God". In fact, John calls us that very thing. Unless John was completely unaware that he was contradicting himself, he must have thought "children of God" and "only Son" to indicate two distinct states. In other words, he was giving Jesus a special place. In fact, according to John, the place was so special as to say that Jesus was God.

But this special place is not unique to John. It appears in the other gospels as well. For example, in Matt 22:41-46 Jesus argues the absurdity of interpreting "son" in other ways. This debate also appears in Mark. All of the gospels call Jesus the Christ, and Matthew specifically associates this with the messianic prophecy in Isaiah that says the Messiah is God (Matt 1:23, Isaiah 7:14).

Didymos Thomas wrote:
However, I would also argue that a Christian can be a Christian and reject the entire Bible. I'm not singling out John - I'm saying that Christians do not have to accept any particular scripture in order to be a Christian; a Christian must simply rely primarily on teachings attributed to Jesus in order to be a Christian.

Didymos Thomas wrote:
Now, you can argue all day long that these reasons for rejecting John are suspect, but that would miss the point. I'm not saying that it is right to reject John, I'm only saying that Christians can reject John. And there is a difference.


I understand your point, and the distinction you are trying to make. Yet on what basis can we ever discuss such a distinction except the reasons for rejecting John (or any other book of the Bible you might select)? If one has no reasons for rejecting a particular scripture, that would be ... unreasonable.
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Fri 26 Dec, 2008 03:02 pm
@Resha Caner,
Resha Caner wrote:
You seem to assume the worst in what I say. May I remind you of the time I tried to agree with you, and you argued with me about it. I think my use of the word was justified, and I did not mean it as the attack you take it to be (I tried to say as much in my preface). So, let me respond in more detail to explain my meaning.


When you call someone's perspective "absurd", there isn't much left for assumption. It's negative and demeaning.

Resha Caner wrote:
You had a worthy point about those who lived prior to the Gospel of John, and I gave you my answer. You found my answer unsatisfactory, and so I clarified. But to continue to press the point would be absurd. It would become a pharisaic discussion of ridiculous detail regarding how much effort I think one must expend in searching out John's writings to be certified as a Christian.


If you find the conversation ridiculous, then do not continue the conversation. But there is no reason to use demeaning language.

Resha Caner wrote:
I would prefer, instead, to talk about those who spoke with John or read his work and decided to reject him.


Alright.

Resha Caner wrote:
I could ask the same of you. You imply that if my mind is not to be changed, then I should no longer reply. Is it possible your mind would be changed? Is it possible someone else's mind would be changed? As long as that possibility exists, I will continue to respond. There are many other reasons as well, which have nothing to do with changing people's minds. I want to be sure I have been clear. If not, I will respond to clarify, because a muddled argument is of no value to anyone. Finally, the possibility that some may find our discussion interesting(*) is reason enough to continue, whether we ever settle anything at all.

(*) Maybe "entertaining" would be a better word than "interesting". I find it humorous that a question about Paul has become a debate over John.


I'm not engaging in a debate over John - John is simply the test text. We could substitute any shred of scripture and my point will be the same - that a Christian is not compelled to accept that portion of scripture.

Then you take a great deal of time addressing potential arguments against the use of John. But these all miss the point. I'm not saying the arguments are sound, only that they can be made. Others, too. Go back and read my post - I pointed this out already.

Resha Caner wrote:
I understand your point, and the distinction you are trying to make. Yet on what basis can we ever discuss such a distinction except the reasons for rejecting John (or any other book of the Bible you might select)? If one has no reasons for rejecting a particular scripture, that would be ... unreasonable.


Maybe you do not understand as well as you think. My argument is simple - a Christian can reject John's Gospel, or any other piece of scripture, and still be a Christian. The individual's reasons for rejecting some piece of scripture are beside the point. One can be unreasonable and still be a Christian, Caner.
 
Resha Caner
 
Reply Fri 26 Dec, 2008 04:02 pm
@Whoever,
Whoever wrote:
Yes, please remind me. I can only remember you accusing it of heresy.


Hmm. it seems I need an emoticon thingy after all. Smile

Whoever wrote:
I said that I'm not looking for faith but for truth. If you think that the difference between these things is a matter of semantics then I can understand why gnosticsm seems such an odd idea to you.


As I said:
Resha Caner wrote:
I understand the importance of your distinction, but you make the distinction, and then go no further.


Whoever wrote:
Which spirit would you have preferred me to answer in?


I asked if, as a self-described "aspiring Christian", you restrict yourself to the teachings of Christianity, or if you include other material. And I ask whether you aspire to faith, truth, or something else.

Whoever wrote:
Perhaps in Christian terms a simple answer would be the Kingdom of Heaven, immortal life and salvation. Regrettably, I can't speak from experience. The idea would be that the knowledge we seek is already ours and that our search for it must be, as Plato concluded, a process of remembering. The universe would be a unity but not quite the unity proposed by monotheism. It would be Hegel's spiritual unity. As a fragment of that unity we would have direct and unmediated access to a knowledge of reality. This unmediated access would be gnosis or what Aristotle calls 'knowledge by identity.' Gnosis would differ from knowledge in that the latter depends on a duality of knower and known, someone who knows and what it is they know, where gnosis would be an identity of knower and known. It would be knowledge available to us simply by virtue of being who we are, something like the feeling of pain or the joy of happiness.


Maybe, because of your comment about experience, you aren't prepared to answer, but I wonder then, what Christian teaching leads you to believe the "Kingdon of Heaven" is already ours, and we need only remember it.
 
Resha Caner
 
Reply Fri 26 Dec, 2008 04:20 pm
@Didymos Thomas,
Didymos Thomas wrote:
When you call someone's perspective "absurd", there isn't much left for assumption. It's negative and demeaning.


I tried to explain my use of the word, but you do not understand. I can do nothing then, about the fact that you feel you insulted.

Didymos Thomas wrote:
I'm not engaging in a debate over John.


OK.

Didymos Thomas wrote:
Maybe you do not understand as well as you think. My argument is simple - a Christian can reject John's Gospel, or any other piece of scripture, and still be a Christian.


That is not an argument. It is a statement.

Didymos Thomas wrote:
One can be unreasonable and still be a Christian.


I'll give you that (within the context that you aren't arguing whether their rejection is right or wrong), but again it is just a statement.

The reason I would accept that is because they may have the faith of the mustard seed that Jesus mentions in Luke 13:18-19 (and other places) - that is not my place to judge. And, I would still feel compelled to discuss with them their reasons for rejecting any particular scripture.
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Fri 26 Dec, 2008 05:52 pm
@Resha Caner,
Resha Caner wrote:
I tried to explain my use of the word, but you do not understand. I can do nothing then, about the fact that you feel you insulted.


I do not feel insulted and I also understand your use of the word. All you have to do is look up the definition of the word to understand why your use was demeaning, even if your intent was otherwise. You see Caner, I'm a moderator. It's my job to promote tranquility and positive interaction amongst members. Therefore, I caution others against using demeaning language.

Resha Caner wrote:
That is not an argument. It is a statement.


Really? :rolleyes: Oh, that's right, I have been supporting that statement with arguments for a few pages now. I almost forgot.


Resha Caner wrote:
I'll give you that (within the context that you aren't arguing whether their rejection is right or wrong), but again it is just a statement.


A new statement, too. Is the claim incorrect? Do you have to be reasonable in order to be a Christian?

Resha Caner wrote:
The reason I would accept that is because they may have the faith of the mustard seed that Jesus mentions in Luke 13:18-19 (and other places) - that is not my place to judge. And, I would still feel compelled to discuss with them their reasons for rejecting any particular scripture.


That's all well and fine, but let's get back to the point: any given practitioner can reject the Gospel of John (or any other given article of scripture) and still be a Christian if said practitioner primarily relies upon some teaching(s) attributed to Jesus for spiritual guidance.

You may want to discuss why the reject John or whatever other bit of scripture, which is great, but the fact of the matter is that a Christian can chose his/her own scripture and is in no way compelled to accept any particular scripture. So called "Gnostic Christians" are indeed Christians, and accepting the Bible is not a necessary condition for being a Christian, although it is a sufficient condition for being a Christian.
 
Resha Caner
 
Reply Fri 26 Dec, 2008 07:29 pm
@Didymos Thomas,
Didymos Thomas wrote:
All you have to do is look up the definition of the word to understand why your use was demeaning, even if your intent was otherwise.


What is your point? I do not understand why you continue to make this an issue after I said I did not mean it as an attack against you or your position. You obviously do not object to the use of the word.

Didymos Thomas wrote:
That would be absurd.


Misunderstandings occur from time to time. I've acknowledged some poor phrasing and tried to clarify. I would have done that whether you were a moderator or not. Once someone has said: no, I didn't mean it that way, does it not better promote "positive interaction" to take the person at their word, drop it, and move on? That is better signaled with a simple "OK" than a lecture. The lecture leads me to believe that either you still do not get my intent or you want me to admit something more than poor phrasing.

In all honesty, I do not think you are promoting "positive interaction" at this point. I am sorry we continue to butt heads over this. I'd be happy to drop it, but it seems you are expecting something I have not yet delivered.
 
LWSleeth
 
Reply Fri 26 Dec, 2008 11:15 pm
@Resha Caner,
Resha Caner;39739 wrote:
The reason I would accept that is because they may have the faith of the mustard seed that Jesus mentions in Luke 13:18-19 (and other places) - that is not my place to judge. And, I would still feel compelled to discuss with them their reasons for rejecting any particular scripture.


I've been following your debate with D.Thomas, and I think you would have taken a step towards objectivity to study someone like Pagels, especially her latest book "Beyond Belief" where she does a brilliant analysis of two trends that developed early on in the faithful's view of Jesus. I say that because her work is particularly unbiased, a real truth-seeker's efforts. She got her Ph.D at Harvard, and helped edit and make available to the public the Nag Hammadi texts.

Why I mention her, and the "early trend" of Christ lovers, is because the debate between you and D.Thomas seem to mirror that exact divergence of views. In fact, Christianity maintained the battle into the 18th century: those practicing ritualized and legalistic versions of Christianity were in serious contrast with monastics who practiced (or at least philosophically-supported) "union prayer" (such Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross, Brother Lawrence, Meister Eckhart, the "desert fathers," the early Greek Orthodox monastics as found in the writings of the Philokalia, and dozens more I could list). There are still remnants found today in the church if we can believe what Professor Jacob Needleman writes in "Lost Christianity."

However, what I want to take issue with specifically is two of your statements. The first was your complaint to D.Thomas, "That is not an argument. It is a statement." The second is "I would still feel compelled to discuss with them their reasons for rejecting any particular scripture." I will make an argument, and it is against the logic of that second statement.

Imagine all of us participating in this debate here are back with Jesus, following him around to hear him speak. Whatever it was that made one saved could not have been dependent on accepting scripture since there was no "Christian" scripture. In fact, to some it might have seemed that one had to REJECT OT scripture, and without doubt, reject current orthodoxy to accept Jesus who was, for example, doing stuff on the sabbath. In a very meaningful way, Jesus was the antithesis of centuries-old orthodoxy. How he was is pertinent to this debate you are having.

The orthodoxy of the time said you had to behave and believe a certain way to find, be in the grace of, and serve God. Jesus, as in the widow's mite, seemed to say: no, it's the sincerity behind our actions that count, the feeling of it, and the not acting out, or speaking holy book syllables flawlessly, or the rituals and rules of the religion. You have to open your heart, you have to love, you have to FEEL deeply and sincerely . . . you can't get away with going through the motions.

So my argument is, because Jesus accepted people who couldn't have possibly known scripture (there was no John, for instance), it is still possible to be a Christian by feeling the same thing that the widow or the criminal felt dying along side Jesus on his own cross (who Jesus himself accepted).

Today, has religion become proper behavior and correct belief? You bet it has, for many people at least. Yet there are still some searching for the feeling of Jesus. I say, if you insist people have to follow orthodoxy, the rules of the church, behave or believe in such and such a way . . .then you are associating yourself with the exact thing that Jesus came to show is NOT the way.

But let me give you credit too. If the feeling thing was behind the gnostic movement, then it is clear that some went off the deep end, thinking that anything goes. I think you are right that we can't do it alone, otherwise why did Jesus come? No, we need the feeling instilled in us by him, but then we can follow it ourselves. While the "church" or scripture is not necessary to feel, and so they are not necessary to follow Jesus and consequently be a Christian, that doesn't mean we don't need Jesus to follow the lifelong path of heart.
 
Resha Caner
 
Reply Sat 27 Dec, 2008 12:47 am
@LWSleeth,
Thanks for your thoughts, L.W.
 
LWSleeth
 
Reply Sat 27 Dec, 2008 03:32 am
@Resha Caner,
Resha Caner;39779 wrote:
Thanks for your thoughts, L.W.


You're welcome RC.
 
Whoever
 
Reply Sat 27 Dec, 2008 05:47 am
@Resha Caner,
Resha Caner wrote:
Hmm. it seems I need an emoticon thingy after all. Smile

No need. I was just asking you post a link or remind me, as you offered.

Quote:
I asked if, as a self-described "aspiring Christian", you restrict yourself to the teachings of Christianity, or if you include other material. And I ask whether you aspire to faith, truth, or something else.

I find the same message in the literature of all the principle religions of the world. The second question I've already answered.

Quote:
Maybe, because of your comment about experience, you aren't prepared to answer, but I wonder then, what Christian teaching leads you to believe the "Kingdon of Heaven" is already ours, and we need only remember it.

All of it. But the message is most clear in the non-canonical literature, as it has mostly been excised from the official collection. Mohammed puts it as, 'Whoso knoweth himself knoweth his Lord.'

Here is Keith Ward, from God: A Guide for the Perplexed.

"When you realise the immense difference between the classical and the popular views of God, you realise, perhaps to your surprise, that the classical view is nearer to the seemingly very radical view of a God who is not a particular cause or personal agent in the world, who is not a being amongst other beings at all. So when conservative Christians attack views like those of the twentieth-century theologian Paul Tillich for saying that God is not a person, but is 'Being-itself', the depth and power of being, they are in fact attacking the classical Christian doctrine of God. Sometimes conservatives simply forget what real conservatism is, and those who try to be orthodox Christians simply have not realised how very agnostic and radical the orthodox tradition about God is."


In this view I hold a more orthodox view than yours. This doesn't make it more right or wrong, of course, but at least it shows that it is possible to hold a view different from yours and still be a Christian.
 
Solace
 
Reply Sat 27 Dec, 2008 07:29 am
@Solace,
Quote:

It would be knowledge available to us simply by virtue of being who we are,


This is an intriguing statement and one that I wholeheartedly agree with.
 
Solace
 
Reply Sat 27 Dec, 2008 07:47 am
@Solace,
Quote:

it is possible to hold a view different from yours and still be a Christian.


As pertains to this ongoing debate; I always thought that one need only "accept Christ and be saved" sort of thing in order to be a Christian... I'm not sure that anything more was required as a qualifier?
 
Whoever
 
Reply Sat 27 Dec, 2008 08:06 am
@Solace,
Technically I suppose you're right. But the disagreements start when we try to decide what it means to accept Christ. To some this acceptance entails going on bloody crusades against the infidel, to others it means not going.
 
 

 
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