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Source: (consider it) Thread: Purgatory: Christian Orthodoxy
Zach82
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quote:
What's blasphemous is to imagine that a person is God.
I think you finally might be getting it. On the other front, ordering a man to sacrifice his son makes Jehovah look pretty questionable ethically.

Zach

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RadicalWhig
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quote:
Originally posted by TubaMirum:
OK, I get you.

Thank you. I mean that. Even when we don't agree, it is heartening to be heard and understood.

quote:
#2 of course could happen without Jesus at all - it's strictly Judaism, Micah, and secular notions of the "equality of man" - but the first I would grant to have a strong Jesus influence, because of the emphasis on love.
Yes, although one could also argue that the universality of the Paine quote, and notion of equality, are derived from Jesus' radical reinterpretation of the best of the Jewish prophetic tradition.

quote:
And I do think you have a point there! I think there should be far more emphasis on love in the church - but then, lots of Christians throughout history have thought so, too. St. Francis, for example, and St. Nicholas and St. Seraphim and St. Martin - and St. Paul, now that I think of it! "If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing."
Unfortunately, it tends to get obscured by the exclusion of those who don't believe the right things in the right way.

quote:
I don't see the Creeds, though, in opposition to this - although it's very possible that they have become dry and rote and remote.
You are right. The creeds do not act directly against what I have said. They are fairly disconnected from it, in fact. But they do serve an exclusionary purpose: they exclude all those followers and disciples of Jesus who, although moved and inspired by his message, and keen to play their part in the building up of what he called the "Kingdom of God" (a way of life in which we live as if people actually mattered), do not buy into the whole Egyptian/Babylonian zombie death-cult side of it.

quote:
It would be very interesting, in fact, to include "love" as an integral part of Christian orthodoxy! The Nicean Creed - and I Corinthians 13 together, maybe?

It seems to me that a "creed", from "I believe", starts from the wrong premise. It makes acceptance of metaphysical claims, rather than commitment to ideals and a way of life, the central point. Jesus seemed pretty uninterested in ironing out the finer points of theology, and much more interested in how we live and act. Maybe a vow makes more sense than a creed: one would make a vow to follow Jesus, and would recite the terms of that vow. 1 Corinthians 13, and a few other choice verses from the old and new testaments (including perhaps the bit of Micah paraphrased by Tom Paine), might provide a starting point for wording.

quote:
I think the Creeds are actually quite generous - they don't demand more than assent to bare essentials.
Well, it all depends. I think they miss out the bare essentials of what it means to be a disciple of Jesus, and cram in a lot of metaphysical stuff which is, at best, a sort of pious fairy tale to be taken with a large pinch of metaphorical salt, and at worst is a serious stumbling-block to those who don't believe in magic resurrecting zombies.

I'm serious here. The message and the way of life taught by Jesus are too good - they are truly the way to what we might call "salvation" and "redemption", both of ourselves and our societies - to be made conditional on believing in superstitions. Unless a believable, non-supernatural Jesus can be recovered, there is no hope for humanity. Unless we can recover the teachings and the way of Jesus, in away which is compatible with our knowledge and rationality, we are doomed to live in a world without a path to mercy, grace, peace, love, joy, healing, liberation, forgiveness.

quote:
Originally posted by Zach82:
quote:
What's blasphemous is to imagine that a person is God.
I think you finally might be getting it. On the other front, ordering a man to sacrifice his son makes Jehovah look pretty questionable ethically.
Indeed, but, as I've said before, Jehovah isn't God either. The God That Might Actually Exist is a lot bigger than the "God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob", or any other human-created God of the Imagination.

The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob took a week to make the earth, couldn't see Adam and Eve when they were hiding, and had no idea about the humane transportation of animals on sea voyages. The real God is so much greater than fictional Jehovah.

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Martin60
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If God does not blaspheme, then you have no saviour RW.

If God did not assume full humanity then you are not healed.

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Love wins

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Zach82
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quote:
Unless we can recover the teachings and the way of Jesus, in away which is compatible with our knowledge and rationality, we are doomed to live in a world without a path to mercy, grace, peace, love, joy, healing, liberation, forgiveness.
In effect, only a god that bows down to our reason and ethics can save us. Though, if God is already compatible with us, I can't see that there is any need to talk about redemption at all.

Zach

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Jessie Phillips
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quote:
Originally posted by TubaMirum:
I must say I think it really would make a difference. I think the Creeds are actually quite generous - they don't demand more than assent to bare essentials. But maybe they themselves are only "philosoophy" and it would be good to make explicit an emphasis on love as part of "orthodoxy." Of course, this would also exclude people, many of whom are not able to give love initially but who might become so later.

I agree about the risk of excluding people. Trying to make the "love cult" into a defining characteristic of Christianity strikes me as problematic for a number of reasons - not least of all by how love is defined.

Is "love" intended to impose a behaviour requirement on Christians? If so, then how will that be sized up? What about people who have illnesses, or disabilities, or who are imprisoned?

And perhaps the biggest elephant in the room: will Jesus defeat Satan by loving him?

If the answer to that is yes, then how do you square that with the pre-existing creedal statement that says "He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead" ...?

How exactly do you judge someone by loving them?

Naah, sorry, can't see it working.

I for one would feel much more "judged" by being told that I'm about to be killed for my sins, than by being told that I'm about to be loved for my sins. But perhaps that's just me, maybe I'm weird.

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RadicalWhig
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quote:
Originally posted by Zach82:
quote:
Unless we can recover the teachings and the way of Jesus, in away which is compatible with our knowledge and rationality, we are doomed to live in a world without a path to mercy, grace, peace, love, joy, healing, liberation, forgiveness.
In effect, only a god that bows down to our reason and ethics can save us. Though, if God is already compatible with us, I can't see that there is any need to talk about redemption at all.
It's not about God bowing down to our reason and ethics. It's about finding the best way to live, and developing an idea of God which is believable and capable of promoting that way. A sort of Deism-for-Jesus does that for me. There's plenty of challenge there. And if you can't see the need for redemption, I suggest you have a look around you.

[ 02. January 2011, 21:21: Message edited by: RadicalWhig ]

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Zach82
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quote:
It's not about God bowing down to our reason and ethics. It's about finding the best way to life, and developing an idea of God which is believable and capable of promoting that way. A sort of Deism-for-Jesus does that for me. There's plenty of challenge there. And if you can't see the need for redemption, I suggest you have a look around you.
It may not be about that, but it's what your god does anyhow. "The best way to life" is according to our own reason and ethics, and your god is obligingly compatible to that. Since you already have reason, then you don't really need God at all, and certainly not salvation. You already have the tools you need, and if there is to be any God at all, well he can hardly contradict you. And you preach to us about blasphemy. You expound on a tame god that you can be comfortable with in your reason and say we are setting up idols!

According to Karl Barth, "The Gospel does not expound or recommend itself. It does not negotiate or plead, threaten or make promises. It withdraws itself always when it is not listened to for its own sake." We Christians do not have a reasonable account for the catholic faith. A reasonable account is impossible, for our own point for the Incarnation is a soteriological one-- our human reason needs to be redeemed as much as the rest of the world.

Zach

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TubaMirum
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quote:
Originally posted by Jessie Phillips:
I agree about the risk of excluding people. Trying to make the "love cult" into a defining characteristic of Christianity strikes me as problematic for a number of reasons - not least of all by how love is defined.

Is "love" intended to impose a behaviour requirement on Christians? If so, then how will that be sized up? What about people who have illnesses, or disabilities, or who are imprisoned?

And perhaps the biggest elephant in the room: will Jesus defeat Satan by loving him?

If the answer to that is yes, then how do you square that with the pre-existing creedal statement that says "He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead" ...?

How exactly do you judge someone by loving them?

Naah, sorry, can't see it working.

I for one would feel much more "judged" by being told that I'm about to be killed for my sins, than by being told that I'm about to be loved for my sins. But perhaps that's just me, maybe I'm weird.

Well, RW's original quote said this: "Love is the doctrine of this church."

That imposes behavior on the church itself, as far as I can tell - which really isn't a bad idea, in my view! The church has failed time and again in this area, IMO, and it might be something of a good idea to remind the PTB (aka "hierarchy," or whatever term you prefer) what the reason for the church's existence actually is.

And I can't argue with RW that love is supposed to be a distinguishing characteristic of the church! And surely that's what doctrine is all about - pinpointing what is unique and carving away what doesn't belong?

I'm just thinking aloud, really. I think this is somehow pretty important, actually.....

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RadicalWhig
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quote:
Originally posted by Zach82:
It may not be about that, but it's what your god does anyhow. "The best way to life" is according to our own reason and ethics, and your god is obligingly compatible to that.

As opposed to your god, who is obligingly compatible with your religious creeds, heh? But yes, there is a congruence - as you would expect - between what I believe about God (which is essentially a sort of Deist/Pantheist God) and what I believe about ethics. The key touch-stones are reverence and interconnectivity. We are all one: love one another.

quote:
Since you already have reason, then you don't really need God at all, and certainly not salvation.
No, there's no "need" of God, in the sense of a psychological crutch or heavenly prefect. Following Jesus would work just as well for an atheist. The only difference between me and an atheist disciple of Jesus is that I happen, as a point of speculation, to believe in God. But whether or not we believe in God is secondary to the central point, which is how we live and love.

quote:
You already have the tools you need, and if there is to be any God at all, well he can hardly contradict you.
Yes. Have tools, must build. Can't wait for the big man in the sky to switch the cosmic stick from "fucked" to "sorted".

quote:
And you preach to us about blasphemy.
Yes, because you worship a man as a god, and you confuse the human-invented anthropomorphic god of the OT with the real God of Nature.

quote:
You expound on a tame god that you can be comfortable with in your reason and say we are setting up idols!
It's not about "tame gods". It's about how best to live. It's not my fault God is everywhere and everything and so can't possibly go around impregnating nubile virgins or turning into wafers. Strange as it might seem, I'm actually criticising the limitedness of your views of incarnation; for me, the whole universe is equally divine, I see Nature in everything.

quote:
According to Karl Barth, "The Gospel does not expound or recommend itself. It does not negotiate or plead, threaten or make promises. It withdraws itself always when it is not listened to for its own sake." We Christians do not have a reasonable account for the catholic faith. A reasonable account is impossible, for our own point for the Incarnation is a soteriological one-- our human reason needs to be redeemed as much as the rest of the world.
In other words, "we are making this shit up and we know it doesn't make any sense".[/QB][/QUOTE]

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Jessie Phillips
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quote:
Originally posted by RadicalWhig:
The creeds do not act directly against what I have said. They are fairly disconnected from it, in fact. But they do serve an exclusionary purpose: they exclude all those followers and disciples of Jesus who, although moved and inspired by his message, and keen to play their part in the building up of what he called the "Kingdom of God" (a way of life in which we live as if people actually mattered), do not buy into the whole Egyptian/Babylonian zombie death-cult side of it.

Pray, tell me, what exactly do you think is wrong with Egyptian Babylonian zombie death-cults anyway?

I can't help thinking that it's not a very post-colonial way of looking at things. It seems to be rooted in a desire to make a distinction between "them" and "us", which itself is a legacy of colonialism. The Egyptian Babylonian zombies and death cult members are the bad guys who don't love, whereas we are the good guys who do love. And we're going to show them how to love, by kicking their asses!

Doesn't sound like love to me.

quote:
Originally posted by RadicalWhig:
Unless a believable, non-supernatural Jesus can be recovered, there is no hope for humanity. Unless we can recover the teachings and the way of Jesus, in away which is compatible with our knowledge and rationality, we are doomed to live in a world without a path to mercy, grace, peace, love, joy, healing, liberation, forgiveness.

Sounds like a lot of pacifist idealism to me.

Does death not bother you? Does hunger not bother you? Does disease not bother you? Does pain not bother you?

What about predators - like wolves and vultures. Do they not bother you?

The way I see it is that you can be as idealistic as you like - however, in the current world as it stands, naturally-occurring environmental differences will give rise to inequalities, which in turn will give rise to injustices.

The only way in which human society can overcome those injustices is to allocate different roles to different people; some are food-production workers, some protect the civilisation against predators and natural disasters, and a few occupy government and administrative roles to co-ordinate the activities of these other two groups.

Snag is - that system will naturally give rise to other inequalities and injustices of its own.

Now I'm not saying there's anything wrong with idealism. But it seems that you are not acknowledging all the possible kinds of suffering and injustice that may occur in the world. I think that creedal Christianity, as it stands, does acknowledge it, at least implicitly, and also proposes a stronger sense of hope for a future better world.

The relevant Nicene Creed lines are "He will come to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end" - and, "We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come."

If you drop those lines, then what you're left with is not orthodox Christianity. I don't think you have yet made a case in favour of dropping those lines. I won't be convinced that these lines should be dropped from the creeds, unless you're able to replace it with something else that expresses either a more explicit acknowledgement of the pain and suffering of the current world, or something that offers an even stronger sense of hope that things will be better some day, even in spite of our own individual deaths.

quote:
Originally posted by TubaMirum:
And I can't argue with RW that love is supposed to be a distinguishing characteristic of the church! And surely that's what doctrine is all about - pinpointing what is unique and carving away what doesn't belong?

That still ducks the question of whether Jesus will defeat Satan by loving him or not, in my opinion.

A related question to that is the question of whether or not we should love our own deaths. It could be argued that if we are supposed to love death, then we shouldn't be worried about all this afterlife and apocalypse nonsense anyway. It could even be argued that we are being selfish and unloving if we live beyond our "allotted time".

What about idols? Are we supposed to love them too? No? Well, in that case, what about the people who have created the idols? Don't you think they might be slightly upset if we smashed those idols? Maybe you think it's possible to love the creator of an idol, without loving the idol itself - but what if the person who created the idol thought that the idol symbolised a war hero, that they're related to, and whose loss on the battlefield they're still grieving? Going round wantonly smashing up war memorials and burial headstones really is not my idea of "love".

However, placing a behavioural requirement of "love" on Christians may also require Christians to be idolatrous as a side-effect. I'm not opposed to idolatry - I think grieving relatives of war heroes have got every right to set up memorials - but I don't think that idolatry should be made compulsory.

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Zach82
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quote:
In other words, "we are making this shit up and we know it doesn't make any sense
What's really confounding is that, knowing precisely what we are going to say, you continue to hold forth about how unreasonable we catholic Christians are in thread after thread after thread after thread...

Zach

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Don't give up yet, no, don't ever quit/ There's always a chance of a critical hit. Ghost Mice

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RadicalWhig
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Jessie Phillips:

What I'd like to know is whether you are deliberately understanding me, or whether you really don't get a word of what I'm saying.

Do you think I am some sort of naive idealist? No. Jesus was KILLED, remember. Oppression, suffering, hatred, violence, exploitation are all too real. I see following the teachings of Jesus as the best way out of that on the ethical, personal level. As for trying to find practical, political, economic sorts of solutions, well, that's why I became a political scientist in the first place; it's part of my vocation in following Jesus, ultimately trying to find ways to love my neighbour.

What I don't see is how making up religious fairytales is going to make any real difference.

You seem to think that some words in the creed are what it takes to confront the reality of evil, when what it actually takes is our commitment, character, courage and comradeship.

And here's the thing: I follow Jesus of Nazareth, and I can personally attest to the power and the goodness of that way. But I'm not allowed to join in with that, because the religionists have captured the Jesus-movement and turned it into a death cult (not that there's anything wrong with Egyptian-Babylonian zombie death cults, if that's your bag, but it's got nothing to do with Jesus and makes no contribution to human well-being). I think your notions of God are blasphemous human inventions, you think mine are blasphemous human inventions too; but why should that stand in the way of what matters? How can we love the God whom we do not see, if we cannot love the neighbours whom we do see? Why does orthodoxy have always to be defined on the creedalists terms, such that those who don't subscribe to the zombie cult are excluded from fellowship and from developing their discipleship in the company of others? Well, I've had all the reasons for that, and I'm not convinced - I think you've got it wrong, and that Jesus, if he were alive today, would agree with me.

Now, that's not to say that I can't see the merit in the grand Christian story. I can. But it's a story, a myth that gives meaning. If it is taught and treated as such, I have no problem with it. I even have no problem with the idea that, in a strange non-literal sense, so long as his teaching and way are alive, "Jesus is alive" too. But being able to believe in it as fact should not debarr someone from being a sincere disciple.

Ironically, none of this even reared its head until I asked to be baptised. It took me many years of growth and reflection to come to the point of wanting to make such a commitment to the way of Jesus - and, despite being in a church which was relatively liberal by some standards, I was told that I couldn't be baptised because I didn't believe the "right" things. That is why I am concerned about the definition of "orthodoxy", and grieved that the wrong criteria are used.

There's a book called Christianarchy which I read long ago. It makes a distinction between the "bounded" group and the "centered" group. The bounded group has hard boundaries determined by standards of right belief and outward conformity. The centred group has no boundaries, but is drawn towards the centre that is Jesus. It is a terrible pity that the movement of renewal centered on Jesus so quickly became a church bounded by so-called orthodoxy.

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TubaMirum
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quote:
Originally posted by Jessie Phillips:
That still ducks the question of whether Jesus will defeat Satan by loving him or not, in my opinion.

A related question to that is the question of whether or not we should love our own deaths. It could be argued that if we are supposed to love death, then we shouldn't be worried about all this afterlife and apocalypse nonsense anyway. It could even be argued that we are being selfish and unloving if we live beyond our "allotted time".

What about idols? Are we supposed to love them too? No? Well, in that case, what about the people who have created the idols? Don't you think they might be slightly upset if we smashed those idols? Maybe you think it's possible to love the creator of an idol, without loving the idol itself - but what if the person who created the idol thought that the idol symbolised a war hero, that they're related to, and whose loss on the battlefield they're still grieving? Going round wantonly smashing up war memorials and burial headstones really is not my idea of "love".

However, placing a behavioural requirement of "love" on Christians may also require Christians to be idolatrous as a side-effect. I'm not opposed to idolatry - I think grieving relatives of war heroes have got every right to set up memorials - but I don't think that idolatry should be made compulsory.

You seem to have ignored what I actually said - that the requirement is laid on the church, not on individuals - in favor of your own interpretation, so there seems little point in responding.

Still, Jesus did ask his followers to "love our enemies" - in addition to God and our neighbors - so the requirement actually does seem to exist anyway, from the man's own mouth. I'm not sure what "smashing up war memorials and burial headstones" has to do with anything, though....

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RadicalWhig
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Incidentally, although I'm excluded from mainstream church because of my unitarian/deist beliefs about God, I still feel a strong urge to be baptised. This started about last easter and has only become stronger. I see baptism by immersion in the name of Jesus as a symbolic act of commitment to the way of Jesus of Nazareth, enjoined by Jesus himself, a sign of washing clean the wrongdoing of the past, of saying no to the selfish part of myself and saying yes to discipleship. If anyone here is willing to baptise me, even though I am a heretic by the standards of the "Christian orthodoxy", please PM me. I will travel anywhere in the EU.

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Via Media
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quote:
Originally posted by RadicalWhig:
Incidentally, although I'm excluded from mainstream church because of my unitarian/deist beliefs about God, I still feel a strong urge to be baptised. This started about last easter and has only become stronger. I see baptism by immersion in the name of Jesus as a symbolic act of commitment to the way of Jesus of Nazareth, enjoined by Jesus himself, a sign of washing clean the wrongdoing of the past, of saying no to the selfish part of myself and saying yes to discipleship. If anyone here is willing to baptise me, even though I am a heretic by the standards of the "Christian orthodoxy", please PM me. I will travel anywhere in the EU.

Why not 'baptise' yourself? Surely it isn't necessary to follow the rules of Christian orthodoxy re: having to have someone else do it to you.

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In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity. Most of the time, eh?

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Dinghy Sailor

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quote:
Originally posted by RadicalWhig:
I'm excluded from mainstream church because of my unitarian/deist beliefs about God, I still feel a strong urge to be baptised.

You don't help yourself by insulting everyone's faith. Will you be this brusque with the minister who baptises you?
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RadicalWhig
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quote:
Originally posted by Via Media:
Why not 'baptise' yourself? Surely it isn't necessary to follow the rules of Christian orthodoxy re: having to have someone else do it to you.

My understanding of Jesus' teaching is that being baptised by another disciple is the norm.

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RadicalWhig
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quote:
Originally posted by Dinghy Sailor:
quote:
Originally posted by RadicalWhig:
I'm excluded from mainstream church because of my unitarian/deist beliefs about God, I still feel a strong urge to be baptised.

You don't help yourself by insulting everyone's faith. Will you be this brusque with the minister who baptises you?
No, if he or she is willing to do it, it means there's no reason to be brusque, because their understanding is broad enough not to merit harsh criticism. If they are fine with my beliefs, I'm fine with theirs.

[ 03. January 2011, 00:08: Message edited by: RadicalWhig ]

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Radical Whiggery for Beginners: "Trampling on the Common Prayer Book, talking against the Scriptures, commending Commonwealths, justifying the murder of King Charles I, railing against priests in general." (Sir Arthur Charlett on John Toland, 1695)

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Apologies; I've gone on a tangent away from the OP and away from my definition of orthodoxy vs official orthodoxy... ...I won't pursue the baptism question further here. PM me if you can be of help.

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Radical Whiggery for Beginners: "Trampling on the Common Prayer Book, talking against the Scriptures, commending Commonwealths, justifying the murder of King Charles I, railing against priests in general." (Sir Arthur Charlett on John Toland, 1695)

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mattyou
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quote:
Originally posted by RadicalWhig:
Incidentally, although I'm excluded from mainstream church because of my unitarian/deist beliefs about God, I still feel a strong urge to be baptised. This started about last easter and has only become stronger. I see baptism by immersion in the name of Jesus as a symbolic act of commitment to the way of Jesus of Nazareth, enjoined by Jesus himself, a sign of washing clean the wrongdoing of the past, of saying no to the selfish part of myself and saying yes to discipleship. If anyone here is willing to baptise me, even though I am a heretic by the standards of the "Christian orthodoxy", please PM me. I will travel anywhere in the EU.

try your local church. If that one fails try another.

I doubt you'll have to look far.

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Martin60
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Radical Whig

Mate, you're brilliant, traumatized, broken by war and injustice and the insanity that pervades us all.

I was binitarian. Practically bitheistic. Didn't believe in the personhood of the Holy Spirit. I submitted to it as a given. It took me another ten years to encounter perichoresis: the eternal dance of the triune God. The Person of Persons, Mind of Minds. Metamind, metaperson. Whatever.

Lay it down man. Lay down your inability to grasp the ineffable. We ALL have to. Repeatedly.

You understand Islam. Too well. Submit.

To be baptized is to be immersed in the dance. Lifted up in the Spirit by the Son to the Father. To be included. Completely. Completed. NOT assimilated. Not in the Borg.

To become fully significant. Important. Along with every body else.

To rationalize against that, to deny the hypostatic union of God become us that we become God is to remain autonomous.

Lost. Alienated. Unit-arian.

There is no compromise.

There is ONLY total immersion, inclusion in God.

When the Father looks down at the end of the age, all He will see is the Son.

Give up mate.

Or you'll find some fool to baptize you in isolation.

You are SO right that orthopraxis is orthodoxy.

Submit your confusion and rebellion and pride and resistance and rationalism and revulsion on your knees at the foot of the cross and let your tears mingle with the blasphemous blood of the God you murdered.

[ 03. January 2011, 00:35: Message edited by: Martin PC not & Ship's Biohazard ]

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Zach82
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quote:
If they are fine with my beliefs, I'm fine with theirs.
And by fine with your beliefs you mean "Willing to admit them as part of the Christian religion?" Because that's all that's being discussed here.

Zach

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RadicalWhig
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quote:
Originally posted by Zach82:
quote:
If they are fine with my beliefs, I'm fine with theirs.
And by fine with your beliefs you mean "Willing to admit them as part of the Christian religion?" Because that's all that's being discussed here.
Yes. I mean, I'm not too concerned about the label as such. But yes, they'd have to accept that my approach is a valid one. In other words, I don't want to have to lie about my true beliefs.

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Zach82
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Baptism would be about accepting you into the Christian community, which means accepting into our community the assertion that we are a "a blasphemous concoction of cannibalistic mystery-cult pseudo-Egyptian idol-worship, and deserves about as much respect as Scientology or Satanism," as you put it. Doesn't that expectation of yours seem a little absurd to you?

Zach

[ 03. January 2011, 01:03: Message edited by: Zach82 ]

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RadicalWhig
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quote:
Originally posted by Zach82:
Baptism would be about accepting you into the Christian community, which means accepting into our community the assertion that we are a "a blasphemous concoction of cannibalistic mystery-cult pseudo-Egyptian idol-worship, and deserves about as much respect as Scientology or Satanism," as you put it. Doesn't that expectation of yours seem a little absurd to you?

No. Baptism is public commitment to the way and life of Jesus and a personal act of consecration, pledging one's life to being a part of the movement of redemption, salvation, liberation and healing which Jesus' teaching ushers in.

"The blasphemous concoction of cannibalistic mystery-cult pseudo-Egyptian idol-worship", which "deserves about as much respect as Scientology or Satanism," has nothing to do with following the way of Jesus. In fact it is directly opposed to that way. Orthodox Christians can have their religion; I don't want to be baptised into their religion; I want to be baptised as a follower of Jesus (whom their religion misappropriates, parodies, idolises, worships, and ignores).

Ship's Biohazard: interesting post; I understood some but not all of it. Still a bit too cryptic for me.

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Zach82
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Whig, no one is doubting the validity of your beliefs. We simply do not find them to be part of the Christian religion. You seem to be of the opinion that Christians and God are both obligated to accept your beliefs into our fold and baptize you. Since you are demanding baptism from us, then you should know that we do not see baptism as a mere commitment to be nice to everyone. We see it as inclusion in the Triune life of the Spirit, a doctrine you explicity reject. Therefore you cannot be baptized. We are not any more obligated to accept your beliefs than you are to accept ours. You can disagree with us all you like... which is precisely why you aren't one of us. Like it or not, being one of us rests on accepting certain doctrines which you find utterly deplorable.

Zach

[ 03. January 2011, 01:40: Message edited by: Zach82 ]

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Don't give up yet, no, don't ever quit/ There's always a chance of a critical hit. Ghost Mice

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The Silent Acolyte

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That was an awesome post, Martin PC not & Ship's Biohazard.
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Dafyd
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A parable.
Imagine: I'm a Scottish Nationalist. I believe in the story of Robert the Bruce, and the values of Robert Burns, and the Declaration of Arbroath, and David Hume and Adam Smith - freedom from governmental interference and oppression, such as taxation, excise, and so on. The problem is that name 'Scottish Nationalist' has been appropriated by Little Scotlanders: primitivists with romantic ideas of independent nation states and socialistic attitudes to economic reality. It's true that there are traces of support for Scottish independence from England in the Declaration of Arbroath or in Robert Burns, but that's outdated nonsense which has no bearing on the real message of the Declaration of Arbroath, which is free-market libertarian economics. True Scottish Nationalism recognises that closer incorporation into England is the way forward. (And while we're about it, we should translate Burns into modern standard English.)

I think that if I were to try to join a branch of the Scottish Nationalist Party, with the avowed intention of reforming it to hold the above views (not my actual opinions!), I would probably not be successful in getting them to recognise them as a valid form of Scottish Nationalism.

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we remain, thanks to original sin, much in love with talking about, rather than with, one another. Rowan Williams

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Evensong
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quote:
Originally posted by Anglican_Brat:

I agree with you to a certain extent in that I share Hans Kung's view that the historical Jesus is one tool (Note, I said One tool) that the Church uses to discern whether it is getting the message right or not.

Which church would that be Anglican-Brat? Or do you try and harmonise them all and accept the Spirit as heterodox in expression of the risen Christ? [Biased]

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Jessie Phillips
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quote:
Originally posted by RadicalWhig:
Do you think I am some sort of naive idealist? No. Jesus was KILLED, remember. Oppression, suffering, hatred, violence, exploitation are all too real. I see following the teachings of Jesus as the best way out of that on the ethical, personal level. As for trying to find practical, political, economic sorts of solutions, well, that's why I became a political scientist in the first place; it's part of my vocation in following Jesus, ultimately trying to find ways to love my neighbour.

What I don't see is how making up religious fairytales is going to make any real difference.

Okay, thanks for clarifying - but your clarification has raised more questions than it has answered.

You previously seemed to suggest that it's important for Christianity to be able to do without its fairy tales, because the teachings of Jesus stands on its own merit - but now you're saying that it's important that Jesus was KILLED. In CAPITAL LETTERS.

I had previously assumed that the belief that Jesus was killed was one of those "fairy tales" you wanted to reject. But it seems as though it isn't.

The way I look at it is that if the teachings of Jesus really do stand on their own merit, then it shouldn't make any difference whether Jesus was killed or not. Indeed, it shouldn't make any difference whether or not Jesus ever existed in the first place.

But now you're saying that it does matter? In that case, you will need to be clearer about which fairy tales you think are important, and which ones you think Christianity should lose. Are there other fairy tales about Jesus that you think are important - or is his death the only one?

And on the same theme:
quote:
Originally posted by RadicalWhig:
Now, that's not to say that I can't see the merit in the grand Christian story. I can. But it's a story, a myth that gives meaning. If it is taught and treated as such, I have no problem with it. I even have no problem with the idea that, in a strange non-literal sense, so long as his teaching and way are alive, "Jesus is alive" too.

If you've explained yourself properly on that point, then I think I agree with you on it fully.

The thing that I disagree with you on is the idea that it's possible to separate the "teaching of Jesus" on the one hand, from the "myth" or "story" on the other.

Whilst on the one hand you seem to be railing against the "myths" of Jesus, on the other hand, it appears as though you've got your own notion of a "story of Jesus" that you're not letting on. I don't know what that story is - but it's clearly different to the traditional story. If it wasn't, you'd have no grounds for railing against the "myths" and "fairy tales".

So you're going to have to tell that story, if you want us to understand it. It may seem like it's obvious to you - but don't assume it's obvious to the rest of us. And it's no good just telling us to read one of the Gospels either; I think you're going to have to put it in your own words if you want people to see where you're coming from. Thanks.

quote:
Originally posted by TubaMirum:
Still, Jesus did ask his followers to "love our enemies" - in addition to God and our neighbors - so the requirement actually does seem to exist anyway, from the man's own mouth. I'm not sure what "smashing up war memorials and burial headstones" has to do with anything, though....

The point I was trying to make - which I don't think I made very well - was that if there is a behavioural requirement on Christians to "love", then there are all sorts of complicated what-ifs that may make it difficult to realise. The way that you square Christianity's traditional prohibition of idolatry with people's need to grieve for their dead relatives is one of them, but there are lots of others besides this.

There's nothing wrong with talking about what it means to love; on the contrary, I think it should be talked about. But I think it's a bad idea to make it a defining characteristic of orthodoxy. Why? Because it will lead to an existential crisis within Christianity. That existential crisis will then be seized upon to generate more schisms and separations of denominations - and, in my opinion, we've had enough of that in Christianity already, I can't see the point in creating excuses for more of it.

But if there isn't a formal requirement on people to love, then we have a situation that's no different to how things are now. People will say that Christians are a bunch of people who always talk about love but never do anything practical about it.

But you suggest it should be a requirement on the church, but not the people - however, I don't see the distinction between the church and the people.

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Jessie Phillips
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quote:
Originally posted by Zach82:
Whig, no one is doubting the validity of your beliefs. We simply do not find them to be part of the Christian religion. You seem to be of the opinion that Christians and God are both obligated to accept your beliefs into our fold and baptize you. Since you are demanding baptism from us, then you should know that we do not see baptism as a mere commitment to be nice to everyone. We see it as inclusion in the Triune life of the Spirit, a doctrine you explicity reject. Therefore you cannot be baptized. We are not any more obligated to accept your beliefs than you are to accept ours. You can disagree with us all you like... which is precisely why you aren't one of us. Like it or not, being one of us rests on accepting certain doctrines which you find utterly deplorable.

Zach

I for one don't think we can speculate about an individual poster's motives. Why should the question of whether or not RadicalWhig wants to be baptised make any difference to the way we define Christian orthodoxy?

Beliefs don't really get in the way of Christian baptism, any more than they get in the way of initiation to any other religion. Provided you go along to evening meetings that last for a few hours, take place roughly once a week, and repeat for a few months - and as long as you make more or less the right noises at those meetings and the ceremony that follows them, then bingo! You are baptised! What you actually believe is completely inconsequential, as long as you keep it to yourself - just for the time being at least, until you've got the ceremony and the photo-shoot out of the way.

I think the issue of baptism is a red herring!

Personally, I think that the way that the orthodoxy of different religions is defined is a bit like the way that the boundaries between different languages are defined. Latin and Italian are clearly very similar, when compared to other languages - yet they are two different languages.

Dante's Divine Comedy is a classic of Italian literature. At the time it was written, Italian was only just beginning to develop an identity as a separate language from Latin, as opposed to merely being a regional dialect of Latin.

However, in spite of the greatness of the Divine Comedy, no-one would doggedly insist that it's in Latin. No-one would insist that the question of what is, and what is not, Latin, should be rethought in the light of the Divine Comedy - and no-one thinks that the Latin language should be broadened to include the Divine Comedy. It's true that languages and their vocabulary changes as time goes by - but there comes a time when regional dialects break off and form separate languages.

And I see the relationship between RadicalWhig's beliefs and Christianity as the same. Sure, the things RadicalWhig seems to be saying have got some things going for them. And I grant that they do indeed bear some loose resemblance to Christianity. However, the same is true of the Italian language's resemblance to Latin. RadicalWhig's beliefs are no more a form of Christianity than the Divine Comedy is a work of Latin.

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RadicalWhig
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quote:
Originally posted by Zach82:
Whig, no one is doubting the validity of your beliefs. We simply do not find them to be part of the Christian religion.

Yes, I have understood and accepted that point. I'm not a believer in the Christian religion and I have no intention of re-joining it.

quote:
You seem to be of the opinion that Christians and God are both obligated to accept your beliefs into our fold and baptize you.
I don't think that "God is obligated to accept" my beliefs; I think that my beliefs are the most true and honouring understanding of God - that's why I hold them. I'm not "watering down" for my own convenience; I'm refining and purifying to get closer to the truth.

I don't think that Christians are obligated to accept my beliefs as Christian either. As I've said, I'm not that worried about the labels, and if the "orthodox" want to monopolise the name of Christian then there's nothing I can do about it.

However, baptism does not only belong to those who are believers in the Christian religion, but to all who are followers of Jesus.

quote:
Since you are demanding baptism from us, then you should know that we do not see baptism as a mere commitment to be nice to everyone. We see it as inclusion in the Triune life of the Spirit, a doctrine you explicity reject. Therefore you cannot be baptized.
I'm not demanding baptism from you; I've understand that that's not going to happen, because you see it so differently. You cannot stop me being baptised in accordance with Jesus' example and instruction. Christianity does not have a monopoly on Jesus or on baptism.

quote:
We are not any more obligated to accept your beliefs than you are to accept ours. You can disagree with us all you like... which is precisely why you aren't one of us. Like it or not, being one of us rests on accepting certain doctrines which you find utterly deplorable.
I don't want to be one of you.

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Radical Whiggery for Beginners: "Trampling on the Common Prayer Book, talking against the Scriptures, commending Commonwealths, justifying the murder of King Charles I, railing against priests in general." (Sir Arthur Charlett on John Toland, 1695)

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RadicalWhig
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quote:
Originally posted by Jessie Phillips:
Provided you go along to evening meetings that last for a few hours, take place roughly once a week, and repeat for a few months - and as long as you make more or less the right noises at those meetings and the ceremony that follows them, then bingo! You are baptised! What you actually believe is completely inconsequential, as long as you keep it to yourself - just for the time being at least, until you've got the ceremony and the photo-shoot out of the way.

No, no, no, and a thousand times, no. I've done that for years. I've turned up to church and kept my mouth shut, filtering out the good from the irrelevant and the absurd. I don't do that anymore. If I could find a religious community where that wasn't necessary, I'd join it, but I won't find it in a trinitarian, orthodox, creedal, Christian church - because those churches are wrong, in my opinion.

quote:
Personally, I think that the way that the orthodoxy of different religions is defined is a bit like the way that the boundaries between different languages are defined.
Ok, interesting analogy. But, as I see it, orthodox christians are speaking Italian and claiming it is Latin; I'm trying to rediscover the language of Cicero.

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Radical Whiggery for Beginners: "Trampling on the Common Prayer Book, talking against the Scriptures, commending Commonwealths, justifying the murder of King Charles I, railing against priests in general." (Sir Arthur Charlett on John Toland, 1695)

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Evensong
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quote:
Originally posted by RadicalWhig:
quote:
Originally posted by Zach82:
Whig, no one is doubting the validity of your beliefs. We simply do not find them to be part of the Christian religion.

Yes, I have understood and accepted that point. I'm not a believer in the Christian religion and I have no intention of re-joining it.

Who is this "we" you speak of? You speak for Christendom Zach? What are you, the Pope?

[Killing me] [Killing me]

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Zach82
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quote:
Who is this "we" you speak of? You speak for Christendom Zach? What are you, the Pope?
Precisely the same "We" as "We believe in One Lord Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, Eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, light from light, true God from true God, begotten not made..."

Zach

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Don't give up yet, no, don't ever quit/ There's always a chance of a critical hit. Ghost Mice

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Jessie Phillips
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quote:
Originally posted by Evensong:
quote:
Originally posted by RadicalWhig:
quote:
Originally posted by Zach82:
Whig, no one is doubting the validity of your beliefs. We simply do not find them to be part of the Christian religion.

Yes, I have understood and accepted that point. I'm not a believer in the Christian religion and I have no intention of re-joining it.

Who is this "we" you speak of? You speak for Christendom Zach? What are you, the Pope?

[Killing me] [Killing me]

Another common fallacious assumption. Just because person A says he thinks that the articulated beliefs of person B is not part of the Christian religion, it does not mean that person A speaks on behalf of that religion, any more than person B does.

I don't think that the beliefs RadicalWhig has expressed so far constitute orthodoxy, and I don't believe RadicalWhig speaks on behalf of Christianity, and I don't believe that Zach82 speaks on behalf of Christianity either. But does that mean that I do speak on behalf of Christianity? Course it doesn't!

I for one have got my own beefs about orthodoxy. Not least of all the fact that I think the concept of the "formless" god, and the related prohibition of idolatry, is itself merely the product of a rather short-sighted attempt to make out that Hebrew religion is somehow inherently "better" than Egyptian religion, in a way which I find wholly unconvincing. It creates and perpetuates a "them and us" dichotomy. Although it's not the only thing that creates a "them and us" dichotomy, it is nevertheless a component of colonialist thought.

But so what? That doesn't mean that I think Christian orthodoxy should be redefined so as to be a bit more post-colonial.

Now, if the leaders of both the Eastern and Western churches got together one day, and rallied around an agreement to make Christianity a bit more post-colonial, well, good for them. But I can't see it happening any time soon.

But in the meantime, we still need to be able to talk about what Christianity is, and what it isn't. And that gets made more difficult if we pretend that Christianity is broader than it has historically been, just to suit the fashions of the day. Granted, it doesn't make it impossible - but it does make it more difficult. That's because we'd need to start talking about "Christianity version 1.0", "Christianity version 1.1" and so on, and we'd need to start pegging the various different version numbers on the dates that they arose.

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TubaMirum
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quote:
Originally posted by Jessie Phillips:
The point I was trying to make - which I don't think I made very well - was that if there is a behavioural requirement on Christians to "love", then there are all sorts of complicated what-ifs that may make it difficult to realise. The way that you square Christianity's traditional prohibition of idolatry with people's need to grieve for their dead relatives is one of them, but there are lots of others besides this.

There's nothing wrong with talking about what it means to love; on the contrary, I think it should be talked about. But I think it's a bad idea to make it a defining characteristic of orthodoxy. Why? Because it will lead to an existential crisis within Christianity. That existential crisis will then be seized upon to generate more schisms and separations of denominations - and, in my opinion, we've had enough of that in Christianity already, I can't see the point in creating excuses for more of it.

But if there isn't a formal requirement on people to love, then we have a situation that's no different to how things are now. People will say that Christians are a bunch of people who always talk about love but never do anything practical about it.

But you suggest it should be a requirement on the church, but not the people - however, I don't see the distinction between the church and the people.

Yeah, there are problems with this, I completely agree. I'm still thinking about it - which is really all I wanted to do anyway. I've been thinking about it for years, actually.

I myself have issues with the way "orthodoxy" is used as a weapon at present, which is why I can understand RW's objections, I guess. OTOH, I myself don't have a problem with the Creeds as the "definition of Christianity" either - as I've been saying, everything else gets defined, so why not a religion? It's just that I think they may not be saying all there is to say - and I think it might be interesting to consider this, that's all.

Perhaps it's enough to say, "If you can't believe this now, just leave it open; you're still welcome. Lots of people have 'come to believe' over time, and that could happen for you, too. Meantime, let's work on that 'love' thing...."

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Anyway, I think I've about exhausted this thread. To summarise:

(1) Your orthodoxy is orthodoxy to you, I think you are wrong, so I'm not orthodox, even though my beliefs are, in my view, more correct than yours. So be it.

(2) You think that orthodoxy defines Christianity. I don't think it should, because it's an incorrect perversion of Jesus' message, but I accept that, on point of fact, the word Christian has been monopolised by those who can only see it in an orthodox way, and that sometimes language must concede sense to usage.

(3) Baptism is a response to following Jesus, not to accepting certain invented ideas about Jesus. It doesn't mean I want to join your religion, because I think your religion has got it wrong.

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quote:
Originally posted by RadicalWhig:
You think that orthodoxy defines Christianity. I don't think it should, because it's an incorrect perversion of Jesus' message

About the incarnation and Trinity there's room for doubt, obviously. But I find it hard to see how you can be claiming to follow Jesus' message if you think he was wrong about there being a personal God. Unless you think the entirety of the Gospels were composed by the Committee for Misleading Later Historians, I think it's clear that Jesus regarded his ethical teaching as subordinate to his message about God.

If you assume that Paul and the later church were wrong about Jesus, and take out from the Gospels everything that came from them, then you're not left with an ethical teacher (that's Paul): you're left with an apocalyptic prophet and cultist whose message was largely about the coming independence of Israel as a result of divine vengeance against the Romans.

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RadicalWhig
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quote:
Originally posted by Dafyd:
quote:
Originally posted by RadicalWhig:
You think that orthodoxy defines Christianity. I don't think it should, because it's an incorrect perversion of Jesus' message

About the incarnation and Trinity there's room for doubt, obviously. But I find it hard to see how you can be claiming to follow Jesus' message if you think he was wrong about there being a personal God. Unless you think the entirety of the Gospels were composed by the Committee for Misleading Later Historians, I think it's clear that Jesus regarded his ethical teaching as subordinate to his message about God.
Ok, I do agree that Jesus believed in a personal, monotheistic God (and he did not believe he was in any way part of the Godhead, although he did believe himself to be a prophet). Now, I don't conceive of God in that way, and to that extent I disagree with Jesus. I'd also agree that his thoughts about God inspired his ethical teaching. But here's the thing: those teaching still work, even if you don't really think of God in the same way.

quote:
If you assume that Paul and the later church were wrong about Jesus, and take out from the Gospels everything that came from them, then you're not left with an ethical teacher (that's Paul): you're left with an apocalyptic prophet and cultist whose message was largely about the coming independence of Israel as a result of divine vengeance against the Romans.
I've never denied that Jesus was a subversive revolutionary - a bit like Moses, and quite a few other prophets.

Tony Benn said that the bible is a book about the battle between the priests, who defend the status quo and protect the powers that be, and the prophets who call for a radically equalitarian righteousness. I'm with the prophets. I don't necessarily think about God in the same way as they did, but the impulse is the same. I think its origins really lie in sensitivity to humanity.

But that doesn't detract from the fact that Jesus - and, to be fair, Paul - did offer an excellent challenge to how to live, and how to act and treat people, so that we can bring about the new birth of a better, more loving and restored humanity, which Jesus called the "Kingdom of God".

Would it make everyone more comfortable if I said, once and for all:
quote:

"I'm not a Christian.

I'm a deistic, pantheistic unitarian.

I have a strong commitment to the historical person of Jesus of Nazareth as a sublime ethical teacher, an inspiring prophet of liberation, and a champion of all that is best in the human spirit.

I have a high regard of the Bible as a treasure-trove of human wisdom and experience, and as a record of humanity's struggle for righteousness, holiness, goodness, and liberation, but I do not take it literally, nor regard it as perfect, inspired, or the word of God.

I can be inspired by the Christian narrative, with its stories of creation, fall, liberation, incarnation, passion, resurrection, eschatology etc. I see it as a great journey from slavery, through law, to love. But I don't take it literally. It's myth. A good myth.

I believe that the Christian religion can offers an excellent way to live, even if it is not actually true. I try to live in accordance with the way and the mission of Jesus, as best I can understand and apply it, by trying to cultivate what Christianity calls the "fruits of the spirit" and by trying to be an instrument of love, forgiveness, healing, reconciliation, liberation etc.

I believe that Jesus did start a social movement, known as his church, which carried on his work and teaching after his death. This "alternative" or "parallel" community serves two functions. The first is to be a place of love, forgiveness, healing etc, where we can go to be set free and to learn to be a better person in company with others on a similar journey. The second is to give that goodness back to the world, in continuing the work of ministering love to humanity and the world. Jesus did not intend to start a religion: that was a corruption, from which the church has never recovered, except amongst a few scattered souls such as the Quakers."

Ok. So I'm not a Christian. I might believe in God, Jesus, the Bible, the Christian story, living a Christian life, and the Church, but I believe it all "wrongly", at least in the eyes of those who define the acceptable bounds of Christianity.

Hopefully, that doesn't tread on anyone's toes.

(Seriously, Christians are the most uncharitable people I've ever met. Here I am, so close in so many ways (I've more "on fire for Jesus" now than I ever was, and I'm growing in spirituality and holiness as never before) and yet because I cannot literally believe in the magic and myths, I'm treated like a bad smell).

Jesus wept. I know why.

PS. In terms of the SNP analogy, I get your point. If I wanted to join the Anglicans, the Prebyterians, the Baptists, or anyone else, I'd agree with you. Those are their own clubs with their own rules of entry, and I don't meet the criteria. Ok. But I'm not trying to join any particular church. I'm trying to be baptised as a follower of the way of Jesus of Nazareth, and that's not something you Christians can monopolise.

[ 03. January 2011, 15:08: Message edited by: RadicalWhig ]

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Anglican_Brat
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quote:
Tony Benn said that the bible is a book about the battle between the priests, who defend the status quo and protect the powers that be, and the prophets who call for a radically equalitarian righteousness. I'm with the prophets. I don't necessarily think about God in the same way as they did, but the impulse is the same. I think its origins really lie in sensitivity to humanity.
That is a somewhat simplistic reading of the Bible. Yes, the Prophets did criticize the way the temple religion of Israel ignored issues of justice, but that didn't necessary mean that they wanted to do away with worship altogether. The critique of the Prophets was that temple religion was insufficient and needed to be expressed in justice. "Faith without works is dead" as James puts it. That doesn't mean that faith is not important.

As well, the Prophets believed firmly in a God who is active in human history. For them, the Israelites, for their idolatry and social injustice will face the judgment of the God of Israel. This theology is not incidental to their social and political praxis, it underlies it.

quote:

But that doesn't detract from the fact that Jesus - and, to be fair, Paul - did offer an excellent challenge to how to live, and how to act and treat people, so that we can bring about the new birth of a better, more loving and restored humanity, which Jesus called the "Kingdom of God".

This way of life is dependent upon faith in God. Jesus taught that the first commandment before "Love thy neighbor" is to "Love the Lord thy God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength." This root of justice is faith in God.

[ 03. January 2011, 15:26: Message edited by: Anglican_Brat ]

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Doublethink.
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I don't think you have to have a creed to be a Christian, nor a baptism ritual, but then I am a Quaker. People vary as to whether they consider us Christians. And some of us, like me, consider ourselves Christians, and others do not.

A key point in our experience though, is that one's sense of the divine comes from direct experience. If I were defining who is Christian and who is not (which is frankly not really my job), then I'd be tempted to be guided by biblical passages such as:
quote:
Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.
And that bit where the disciples come to him concerned that someone else is preaching about him and he says it OK.

That said I don't see how RW is Christian, if he doesn't think Jesus is Christ ? The supernatural bit is what makes it a religion rather than a philosophy. If you think there is no supernatural action to the baptism ritual, then I don't really see why you would do it.

In someways mainstream ideas in Quakerism are close to RW's - seeing Christianity as "not a notion, but a way" - but we lack sacramental rituals, not because we don't believe in the supernatural qualities of the deity but because we believe life and our relationship with the deity are imbued with those qualities making the rituals unnecessary.

[quote]

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All political thinking for years past has been vitiated in the same way. People can foresee the future only when it coincides with their own wishes, and the most grossly obvious facts can be ignored when they are unwelcome. George Orwell

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Dave Marshall

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If orthodox means something like 'aligned with the prevailing point of view' there's no value in talking about whether being orthodox is good or bad per se. The question for churches, given the views that prevail, is whether holding those views is really the best criteria for determining who is a member.

Christian orthodoxy is almost entirely 'textual literalism' (ie. belief in the literal truth of a 'text'), where text might mean bible only or it might include whatever other writings and practices a particular church also considers sacred. I think it's most people's lack of comprehension that churches still expect belief in the factual truth of such things that is driving Christian orthodoxy to the margins of C21 relevance.

For all his qualities I tend to find Rowan Williams an often depressingly, sometimes destructively, orthodox Archbishop, but his New Year Message was interesting. It included:
quote:
when we try to make sense of our lives and of who we really are, it helps to have a strongly-defined story, a big picture of some kind in the background.
It goes on to present orthodox Christianity in terms of a story that can help make sense of our lives. The interesting bit was he didn't need to add any barbed references to 'risen Christ' or 'divine Saviour'. He'll doubtless get stick from the usual suspects, but it seemed that simply by providing that context he was able to deliver an open-ended Christian message without compromising his orthodoxy.

Of course, if Christianity is nothing more than a historical religious society that's neither here nor there. Orthodox Christians can meet and worship to their hearts' content, keeping spirits up as they reinforce each other's faith against the hopeless humanity of the world outside. But it's my understanding that being Christian is about becoming fully human. I think that requires making peace with how the world and God really are. Rowan's message seemed to be saying the same.

Now where's that miracles thread...

[cross-posted]

[ 03. January 2011, 16:32: Message edited by: Dave Marshall ]

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TubaMirum
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I wonder if it would help at all to to see things through the lens of A.A. (as I almost always do anyway)?

Tradition 3 (the 12 Traditions are often described as "the 12 Steps for the Groups" - IOW, the way A.A. organizes itself) is this: "The only requirement for A.A. membership is a desire to stop drinking."

In the text of the explication of Tradition 3, you find this:

quote:
This Tradition is packed with meaning. For A.A. is really saying to every serious drinker, "You are an A.A. member if you say so. You can declare yourself in; nobody can keep you out. No matter who you are, no matter how low you've gone, no matter how grave your emotional complications - even your crimes - we still can't deny you A.A. We don't want to keep you out. We aren't a bit afraid you'll harm us, never mind how twisted or violent you may be. We just want to be sure that you get the same great chance for sobriety that we've had. So you're an A.A. member the minute you declare yourself."

To establish this principle of membership took years of harrowing experience.

The whole thing is an interesting read, actually.

Basically it boils down to: you're welcome as you are, with only this one requirement: a "desire" to stop drinking. (Apparently at one time it was "a sincere desire," but they dropped even that qualifier. And really: lots of people have not much real desire to stop drinking when they arrive. They have to, if they want to live, but they don't really want to.)

A.A. certainly has a "definition." It has its own self-definition (called the "Preamble," often read at the start of meetings) - and it is certainly defined by the 12 Steps. If you didn't have those, I don't think you'd have A.A. any longer.

But the bar to entry is very low - it's Tradition 3 and nothing else. You don't ever have to do the steps, in fact. (You'll lose out big-time if you don't - but it's entirely your own affair.)

So: definition and description, yes. Requirements: only one. It really does work. I keep wondering if it's analogous to Christianity, but haven't quite come up with a firm answer yet.

And Think2 makes an excellent point as well, I must say....

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Doublethink.
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IIRC AA was started as a tool of evangelism, so I would think it is very related to Christianity in all sorts of ways.

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All political thinking for years past has been vitiated in the same way. People can foresee the future only when it coincides with their own wishes, and the most grossly obvious facts can be ignored when they are unwelcome. George Orwell

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TubaMirum
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quote:
Originally posted by Think²:
IIRC AA was started as a tool of evangelism, so I would think it is very related to Christianity in all sorts of ways.

Bill Wilson first started attending "Oxford Group" (not to be confused with "The Oxford Movement") meetings. This group was started by a Lutheran pastor, Frank Buchman. Interestingly,

quote:
The group was unlike other forms of evangelism in that it targeted and directed its efforts to the "up and outers": the elites and wealthy of society. It made use of publicity regarding its prominent converts, and was caricatured as a "Salvation Army for snobs." Buchman's message did not challenge the status quo and thus aided the Group's popularity among the well-to-do. Buchman made the cover of Time Magazine as "Cultist Frank Buchman: God is a Millionaire" in 1936. For a U.S. headquarters, he built a multimillion-dollar establishment on Michigan's Mackinac Island, with room for 1,000 visitors. From Caux to London's Berkeley Square to New York's Westchester County layouts, Buchman and his followers had the best. In response to criticism, Buchman had an answer: "Isn't God a millionaire?" he would ask.
!

Also,

quote:
Buchman, who had little intellectual interest or interest in theology, believed all change happens from the individual outward, and stressed simplicity. He summed up the Group's philosophy in a few sentences: all people are sinners, all sinners can be changed, confession is a prerequisite to change, the change can access god directly, miracles are again possible, the change must change others.
A.A. went through lots of changes before settling on its current form, but it did start out this way.
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RadicalWhig
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quote:
Originally posted by Anglican_Brat:
quote:
But that doesn't detract from the fact that Jesus - and, to be fair, Paul - did offer an excellent challenge to how to live, and how to act and treat people, so that we can bring about the new birth of a better, more loving and restored humanity, which Jesus called the "Kingdom of God".
This way of life is dependent upon faith in God. Jesus taught that the first commandment before "Love thy neighbor" is to "Love the Lord thy God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength." This root of justice is faith in God.
No. It's root is humane compassion-in-action. Aka love.

Perhaps it works the other way: we make gods to answer to the yearnings of compassion which, in reality, are so often frustrated by the power of those who exploit. The message and the way of Jesus is that we have to love people better. All are broken and hurting, the elder brother as much as the prodigal son, and the rich man as much as the poor. We all need to be transformed by the power of compassion, fraternity, love. That's the gospel. It works whether you believe in God or not; obviously, belief in a loving, personal god helps, but belief in the redemption of self and society through love is what really matters, and even a deist can have that. I know it works because I've seen it in my life and in the lives of others: taste and see. The change starts inwards and moves outwards - maybe that's what the "loving god" part really means, finding an openness to the power of love (what Christians call the Spirit) in oneself, and letting it all emerge from that. If we can forgive and love ourselves, we can begin to forgive and love others; we need to break down the barriers of fear which are the root of our selfishness. Again, I know it works because I've experienced it.

But none of this means having a personal god, a trinitarian god, a dying resurrecting god, a god who writes books, or a god who turns into crackers: it's all open to natural reason, from looking into the eyes of another human being and saying, "this is a man and a brother", rather than "this is a tool for me to exploit".

Jesus had that insight more clearly than anyone before, and it taught it, lived it, and died for it - no one said this would be easy, because it has revolutionary implications which challenge the powerful. But it is the most excellent way to live, and it is ultimately our best and only hope to be fully human beings.

[ 03. January 2011, 19:24: Message edited by: RadicalWhig ]

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Zach82
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Radicalwhig, have you even read the Gospels?

Zach

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RadicalWhig
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Yes. I just took off the glasses first.

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Although, now you mention it, when I got married the Minister gave us a presentation bible, which happened to have footnotes in it. These footnotes were written from a fairly conservative evangelical perspective. Perhaps if one were to read the gospels through those footnotes, one would come away with the impression that Jesus was indeed the son of god who died to take away the sins of the world. I never use that bible, because the footnotes distort the text. May Christians, however, do have "footnotes" of one sort or another. They see the bible through their religious glasses.

I generally use a different version, which is redacted but without footnotes. I believe it is the best and most accurate text.

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Radical Whiggery for Beginners: "Trampling on the Common Prayer Book, talking against the Scriptures, commending Commonwealths, justifying the murder of King Charles I, railing against priests in general." (Sir Arthur Charlett on John Toland, 1695)

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