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Source: (consider it) Thread: Dharmaphobia
mr cheesy
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quote:
Originally posted by Joesaphat:
No, I did not like the fact that you assert that I should not be a minister and you went all censorious about what you deem incompatible with the Christian faith.

I'm not censoring anyone. I'm stating an opinion that is that this particular aspect of Buddhism is incompatible with being an Anglican minister.

There have been other Anglican priests in the past who have been defrocked on points of theology such as this.

I could be entirely wrong - but that's the nature of a discussion board, one discusses opinions.

quote:
Furthermore, let me repeat a third time: I do not 'believe in reincarnation.' I wrote that I was agnostic about re-birth. I'm wondering how you actually know all these things about the afterlife or the soul, personally. I'm just saying I don't know or understand what a 'soul' is or how it constitutes a self.
If you think your post does not drip with animus, think again.

Well, again, I don't think Anglican Christianity leaves the door open to being "agnostic about rebirth" to the extent that you can't discuss what you believe about it in church.

Truly I am not against Buddhists in any way. And I'm not even against reincarnation as an idea, I just can't see that it is consistent with Anglican Christianity - which is a belief with fairly set ideas on this.

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overheard on a Welsh bus-stop: Jesus don't care about you, he's only interested in your soul

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lilBuddha
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quote:
Originally posted by Ricardus:

Anyway ISTM the Greco-Roman part of Christianity has been there from the beginning. It's a feature, not a bug.

I agree that the Greco-Roman part of Christianity has been there all along, but I'm not sure about the feature vs. bug aspect. Christianity, by its spec sheet, should transcend that cultural reference frame. Indeed, non-forced conversion works best when the local culture is considered.

--------------------
So goodnight moon, I want the sun
If it's not here soon, I might be done
No it won't be too soon 'til I say goodnight moon

- A. N. Parsley, D. Mcvinni

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Enoch
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Joesaphat, you haven't been that specific about your Buddhist background.

Are we discussing ways of presenting Christianity that makes it more accessible to Buddhists, less alien, so that it is easier for them to become Christians, as some Christian churches were originally placed on top of previous pagan sites in this country so that people could continue to resort to a familiar place but for a new purpose?

Or are we discussing whether Buddhism has things in it which could help ordinary regular Christians in their faith?

Or are we talking about making Christianity appeal better to Westerners of a spiritually eclectic disposition, the 'spiritual but not religious' variety, who don't know much about Buddhism but think it may be a bit more cool than the boring old Christianity they've ignored from afar.

These three things are none of them the same thing, or even all that similar.

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Brexit wrexit - Sir Graham Watson

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quetzalcoatl
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Ah well, that went well. Maybe the internet is not a good place for nuanced discussions about cross-faith relations. Or do I mean, inter, no, cross is good.

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no path

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quetzalcoatl
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quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
quote:
Originally posted by Ricardus:

Anyway ISTM the Greco-Roman part of Christianity has been there from the beginning. It's a feature, not a bug.

I agree that the Greco-Roman part of Christianity has been there all along, but I'm not sure about the feature vs. bug aspect. Christianity, by its spec sheet, should transcend that cultural reference frame. Indeed, non-forced conversion works best when the local culture is considered.
This is very interesting. I was thinking about the Aristotelian stuff, which has resurfaced today in terms of natural law or even neo-scholasticism. How much of this is an add-on? I suppose you could argue, a la Feser, that it flows logically from basic premises about reality, God, actus purus, and so on. I feel too old and tired to really read stuff and find out.

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no path

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lilBuddha
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quote:
Originally posted by quetzalcoatl:
How much of this is an add-on? I suppose you could argue, a la Feser, that it flows logically from basic premises about reality, God, actus purus, and so on. I feel too old and tired to really read stuff and find out.

This is a difficult thing to do, especially if one is making these observations from within the same culture. And, yes, effort is required. Bugger effort.
quote:
Ah well, that went well. Maybe the internet is not a good place for nuanced discussions about cross-faith relations. Or do I mean, inter, no, cross is good.

It will always be contentious, but this one is doing OK, other than the OP dropping out. Which is a shame as he seems to be the sole person arguing his POV.

--------------------
So goodnight moon, I want the sun
If it's not here soon, I might be done
No it won't be too soon 'til I say goodnight moon

- A. N. Parsley, D. Mcvinni

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quetzalcoatl
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In relation to effort, I'll have you know that I recently read two, yes, that's two, books by David Bentley Hart, and I thought that they were the biggest load of tripe since I stopped reading Tripe News. No, no, no more arguments from incredulity, please. There's a surfeit of them around - see Nagel's 'Mind and Cosmos' for more.

I don't know how things work, therefore God (not Nagel's argument).

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no path

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Eliab
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quote:
Originally posted by Joesaphat:
No, I did not like the fact that you assert that I should not be a minister and you went all censorious about what you deem incompatible with the Christian faith. Furthermore, let me repeat a third time: I do not 'believe in reincarnation.' I wrote that I was agnostic about re-birth. I'm wondering how you actually know all these things about the afterlife or the soul, personally. I'm just saying I don't know or understand what a 'soul' is or how it constitutes a self.
If you think your post does not drip with animus, think again.

The compatibility of Christian and Buddhist ideas is obviously fair game for discussion on this thread. Which you started. While this is clearly a subject of personal importance to you - not being too easily offended is one of the Board's commandments - try to cool it a little, please.

Eliab
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"Perhaps there is poetic beauty in the abstract ideas of justice or fairness, but I doubt if many lawyers are moved by it"

Richard Dawkins

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Ricardus
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quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
quote:
Originally posted by Ricardus:

Anyway ISTM the Greco-Roman part of Christianity has been there from the beginning. It's a feature, not a bug.

I agree that the Greco-Roman part of Christianity has been there all along, but I'm not sure about the feature vs. bug aspect. Christianity, by its spec sheet, should transcend that cultural reference frame. Indeed, non-forced conversion works best when the local culture is considered.
Ok, feature vs bug might have been the wrong way to frame it.

I was responding to a post that seemed to contrast a hypothetical pure Christianity against Greco-Roman accretions. To my mind, it is not helpful to define Christianity independently of what Christians believe or do. Since the Greco-Roman stuff has always been there, ipso facto it is part of Christianity.

That's a separate question from whether it *ought* to be part of Christianity.

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Then the dog ran before, and coming as if he had brought the news, shewed his joy by his fawning and wagging his tail. -- Tobit 11:9 (Douai-Rheims)

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Dafyd
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quote:
Originally posted by quetzalcoatl:
In relation to effort, I'll have you know that I recently read two, yes, that's two, books by David Bentley Hart, and I thought that they were the biggest load of tripe since I stopped reading Tripe News. No, no, no more arguments from incredulity, please.

I think you're a little heavy handed in dismissing everything as an argument from incredulity. Arguments from incredulity have degrees. (I mean, your dismissal of Hart above could be characterised as an argument from your incredulity.)

The one extreme where it is simply a bad argument is a claim like 'I don't see how a whale can evolve from a cow', where the person arguing has not bothered to think about the claim or listen to the person making it.
On the other hand, what you could dismiss as an argument from incredulity could simply amount to an assertion that the person making the claim has failed to provide sufficient justification to accept it.
For example, when Dennett says that qualia could in principle be resolved into non-qualia I think he's just not putting forward a coherent proposition. At least not unless he elaborates on that a lot.

I think Hart's argument that materialists cannot put forward an account of consciousness is technically false. However, most if not all self-identified materialists these days are also physicalists, and I think Hart's arguments are valid if directed against physicalism. He would not be the only person to make the confusion.

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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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Dafyd
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quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
Christianity, by its spec sheet, should transcend that cultural reference frame. Indeed, non-forced conversion works best when the local culture is considered.

Something like dressing up in a version of fourth-century upper-class Roman dress to conduct communion services is a cultural reference frame. I see no good reason why eucharistic vestments couldn't vary from culture to culture.

But if Christianity took on board Buddhist ideas would that be a cultural reference frame? That seems patronising. Buddhist ideas aren't a cultural reference frame - not in the sense that they can be transcended. (In another sense, everything is culture.) The reason for taking them on board is because they're true (nobly true) or useful or valid, not as something to make the transcendent ideas slip down more easily, which can be abandoned when we move on to the next culture. The same applies to Greek philosophy.

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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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Dafyd
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quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
And I'm not even against reincarnation as an idea, I just can't see that it is consistent with Anglican Christianity - which is a belief with fairly set ideas on this.

Chad Varah, who founded the Samaritans, believed in reincarnation. As far as I'm aware, he was never disciplined by the Church of England on that count.

I don't think reincarnation is true or even coherent in the Platonic/pythagorean form. But I don't think there's any disciplinary reason why an Anglican shouldn't believe it, and even if there were that would have no bearing on its truth.

For what it's worth, I believe St Augustine of Hippo refused to rule it out, which seems to me to imply that it's compatible with Western orthodoxy.

In any case, I'm not sure that the Buddhist version of reincarnation is subject to any of the same criticisms as the Western versions. Since Buddhism doesn't believe there's a self or soul there to transmigrate in the sense in which Pythagoreanism does, I'm not sure it's reincarnation in the Western sense at all.

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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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Dafyd
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quote:
Originally posted by Joesaphat:
This being said, and though Buddhist philosophy has its own set of problems, the kind of Aristotelian 'natural law' theories that are now only peddled in our churches does not help our dialogue with the hard sciences. Talking for instance of teleology or of the created 'purpose' of certain organs (mostly the sexual ones), when they are demonstrably adaptations and many such adaptations were unsuccessful is doomed. I cannot see of what use Plato can still be today either. Buddhism however is a living tradition that still makes sense to millions.

I think Roman Catholic teaching on sexuality is an abuse of Aristotelianism myself. At least I don't think it's coherent on its own terms.
There's been interest in Aristotelian ethics in English universities in the last thirty odd years as a way out of the aridity of ethics as usually taught, in areas outside sexuality and among people who would disagree profoundly with the Roman Catholic take on sexuality.
Platonism may not be generally around, but I think the idea that God is to be identified with the Platonic good, with the True and the Beautiful, is important to making Christianity more than just power worship aimed at Nobodaddy.
If we reject the Platonic element in Christianity I think we end up worshipping an ancient middle-eastern monarch projected onto the sky - a mostly benevolent one as ancient middle-eastern monarchs go, no doubt - but we're still subject to all the Kantian and Feuerbachian critique that is aimed at that.

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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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Dafyd
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quote:
Originally posted by Ricardus:
How would you understand the doctrine of the resurrection of the body without reference to either soul or self? ISTM to presuppose some kind of continuity between the person who dies and whatever is resurrected, and that continuity is necessarily incorporeal.

I'm not sure that continuity is required. If the living body resurrected has the memories and personality (but without sin) of the person who died, and God decrees that they're the same person, I don't think one could argue that's incoherent.

In any case, talk of a 'self' or 'soul' is problematic. In one sense, ordinary English usage, the 'self' is just the way I talk about this person here. In a metaphysical sense, it might mean a coherent centre and site of consciousness or some such, but that's not necessarily an entity in addition to other entities around. Nor does postulating an immaterial soul as a distinct entity guarantee a coherent centre and site of consciousness.

Quite what Buddhists mean when denying the self depends I suspect on the Buddhists in question. But historically I suspect most believed in the general unreality of all things, with the self as merely a special case.

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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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Martin60
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That's five sixes Dafyd. Roll the die again.

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Love wins

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lilBuddha
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quote:
Originally posted by Dafyd:

But if Christianity took on board Buddhist ideas would that be a cultural reference frame? That seems patronising. Buddhist ideas aren't a cultural reference frame - not in the sense that they can be transcended.

That wasn't me suggesting this. I was talking about the underlying cultural references of east v west, Euro-centric v Afro-centric, etc.

--------------------
So goodnight moon, I want the sun
If it's not here soon, I might be done
No it won't be too soon 'til I say goodnight moon

- A. N. Parsley, D. Mcvinni

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Joesaphat
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quote:
Originally posted by Eliab:
quote:
Originally posted by Joesaphat:
No, I did not like the fact that you assert that I should not be a minister and you went all censorious about what you deem incompatible with the Christian faith. Furthermore, let me repeat a third time: I do not 'believe in reincarnation.' I wrote that I was agnostic about re-birth. I'm wondering how you actually know all these things about the afterlife or the soul, personally. I'm just saying I don't know or understand what a 'soul' is or how it constitutes a self.
If you think your post does not drip with animus, think again.

The compatibility of Christian and Buddhist ideas is obviously fair game for discussion on this thread. Which you started. While this is clearly a subject of personal importance to you - not being too easily offended is one of the Board's commandments - try to cool it a little, please.

Eliab
Purgatory host

With my cool hat on: as pointed: 'people have been defrocked for less,' 'it's incompatible with ministry.' I love my job, such as it is. And no one has complained about it in the last twenty years or so. Heck, my sermons are about to be published privately by the parish. Why should I take it equanimously? I merely asked where people saw difficulties in a articulating one of the philosophies of the ancient world, one that is still thriving, when they generally see absolutely no problem importing concepts from Hellenistic philosophy.

The asked why it's incompatible, I'm being misrepresented as 'believing in reincarnation' and what not. It's untrue. Read my posts instead of vilifying, then I'll calm down.

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Opening my mouth and removing all doubt, online.

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Joesaphat
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quote:
Originally posted by Dafyd:
quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
And I'm not even against reincarnation as an idea, I just can't see that it is consistent with Anglican Christianity - which is a belief with fairly set ideas on this.

Chad Varah, who founded the Samaritans, believed in reincarnation. As far as I'm aware, he was never disciplined by the Church of England on that count.

I don't think reincarnation is true or even coherent in the Platonic/pythagorean form. But I don't think there's any disciplinary reason why an Anglican shouldn't believe it, and even if there were that would have no bearing on its truth.

For what it's worth, I believe St Augustine of Hippo refused to rule it out, which seems to me to imply that it's compatible with Western orthodoxy.

In any case, I'm not sure that the Buddhist version of reincarnation is subject to any of the same criticisms as the Western versions. Since Buddhism doesn't believe there's a self or soul there to transmigrate in the sense in which Pythagoreanism does, I'm not sure it's reincarnation in the Western sense at all.

It's not, you are right, at least I'd argue the very same point. Do you have any reference for Augustine on the matter?

I'd also be curious to know hoe those who think that 'God creates an immortal soul out of nothing' every time a child is conceived, which is medieval Catholic orthodoxy by the way, reconcile their alleged orthodoxy with discoveries in modern reproductive biology (fertilised eggs seldom make it to implantation, even less frequently to blastocyst stage and regularly turn into blastoma). It looks like God's really wasteful in his creation of immortal souls or indeed that 'things' with immortal souls turn into nasty cancers.
Orthodoxy makes no sense at all.

It's all very well to blast Buddhism as incompatible with 'real' Christianity on the notion of self or soul, but when you have no counter-argument , it makes you look a little silly.

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Opening my mouth and removing all doubt, online.

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Joesaphat
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quote:
Originally posted by quetzalcoatl:
quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
quote:
Originally posted by Ricardus:

Anyway ISTM the Greco-Roman part of Christianity has been there from the beginning. It's a feature, not a bug.

I agree that the Greco-Roman part of Christianity has been there all along, but I'm not sure about the feature vs. bug aspect. Christianity, by its spec sheet, should transcend that cultural reference frame. Indeed, non-forced conversion works best when the local culture is considered.
This is very interesting. I was thinking about the Aristotelian stuff, which has resurfaced today in terms of natural law or even neo-scholasticism. How much of this is an add-on? I suppose you could argue, a la Feser, that it flows logically from basic premises about reality, God, actus purus, and so on. I feel too old and tired to really read stuff and find out.
Edward Feser is the most boring writer ever. I cannot help thinking he claims to win arguments simply because of reader fatigue. You're not too old, he's just too tedious. How any reputable thinker can still peddle the Aristotelian causes as a useful tool, even if only in matters of logic, is beyond me. The theory of evolution, although technically called a theory, is pretty solid science. Our organs, our bodies etcetera... have no 'purpose' in any final sense. They are not 'designed' for any particular use. They've evolved. They're adaptations. Willies can go into mouths as well as vaginas without infringing any kind of obligatory moral purpose. They also fit nicely into hands.

[ 10. December 2016, 08:58: Message edited by: Joesaphat ]

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Opening my mouth and removing all doubt, online.

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Joesaphat
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Quite what Buddhists mean when denying the self depends I suspect on the Buddhists in question. But historically I suspect most believed in the general unreality of all things, with the self as merely a special case. [/QB][/QUOTE]

Yes, this one (with mahayana sympathies) would claim as much: unreal in the sense that it arises in co-dependence with so many other factors and disappears as soon as any of the latter fail, that it cannot be considered
-stable or eternal (an-icca, it's impermanent)
-a self (an-atta, as it has no agency over most of its existence)
-and suffers because of it
not to mention the question of its 'reality,' which in contemporary Western terms tends to means materiality. Only material things are real, are they not? At least that's what most scientists tell us. They cannot observe anything else.

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Opening my mouth and removing all doubt, online.

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Joesaphat
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And, since personal invective is allowed. Mr Cheesy: the notion that the human soul does not constitute a self is not syncretistic or heretical. It's not even Buddhist. It's rather famously argued by Aquinas himself, see Summa Theologiae Ia.75.2 ad1; also Quaestiones Disputate de Anima 2. He argued that even if the soul could be considered a separate, eternal substance in its own right (which he denies) it would not be 'you.' No one threatened to defrock him for heterodoxy.

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Eutychus
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hosting/

quote:
Originally posted by Joesaphat:
And, since personal invective is allowed.

Personal invective is not allowed. Eliab host posted on this just a few posts previously.

You can complain in the Styx if you think you've been unfairly treated. Flouting the rules here will get you into trouble, especially after a host has intervened.

Calm down or take it to Hell.

/hosting

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One has to take part. Scary as it is. - Martin60
Jerusalem is a city without walls

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Joesaphat
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quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
hosting/

quote:
Originally posted by Joesaphat:
And, since personal invective is allowed.

Personal invective is not allowed. Eliab host posted on this just a few posts previously.

You can complain in the Styx if you think you've been unfairly treated. Flouting the rules here will get you into trouble, especially after a host has intervened.

Calm down or take it to Hell.

/hosting

Then let the others play my arguments, and not my life. With apologies to Cheesy, anyway, it was Ricardus who argued that Christianity is firmly linked to the notion of souls.

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Opening my mouth and removing all doubt, online.

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Joesaphat
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quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
hosting/

quote:
Originally posted by Joesaphat:
And, since personal invective is allowed.

Personal invective is not allowed. Eliab host posted on this just a few posts previously.

You can complain in the Styx if you think you've been unfairly treated. Flouting the rules here will get you into trouble, especially after a host has intervened.

Calm down or take it to Hell.

/hosting

I will calm down, promised, but it's quite infuriating, after being asked 'Do you think that other Christians criticise YOU' and answering in the affirmative, that other Christians who do not know me at all still do. Play the ball, not the man.

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Eutychus
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hosting/

Take it to the Styx or Hell, or step away from the keyboard and cool down before you attract Admin attention. Now. Stop adding "and another thing..." here.

/hosting

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One has to take part. Scary as it is. - Martin60
Jerusalem is a city without walls

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Joesaphat
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quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
hosting/

Take it to the Styx or Hell, or step away from the keyboard and cool down before you attract Admin attention. Now. Stop adding "and another thing..." here.

/hosting

Fine, promise not to do it again. It'd be a shame to derail this thread, some answers are interesting.

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Ricardus
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quote:
Originally posted by Joesaphat:

It's all very well to blast Buddhism as incompatible with 'real' Christianity on the notion of self or soul, but when you have no counter-argument , it makes you look a little silly.

I stopped responding because here you indicated that you weren't going to post any more.

And I'm not 'blasting' Buddhism. My assertion is that most Christians hold to a concept of a soul which is incompatible with anatta. You seem to be responding that most Christians are wrong, which they may be, but this to me is just agreeing that the two views are incompatible, but that the incompatibility should be resolved in favour of the dhamma.

Now to my own views:

1. I personally find the afterlife to be the least satisfying point of Christian doctrine, so I am certainly not in the business of making assertions about what actually is the case (as opposed to what Christians believe is the case). But your original question was why Christians in general are leery about the dhamma.

2. I think we are getting excessively hung up on the words 'soul' and 'self', which is probably my fault.

The doctrine of the resurrection of the body requires that on some level the departed and the resurrected are the same person, which implies that 'something' has been passed on from one to the other (to create the continuity) and that this 'something' is real (in that it has real-world consequences). The problem is then that as soon as I assert the existence of a 'something'*, that immediately suggests the existence of an object that is basically like any other object but made of some magical material, but I think that suggestion is a quirk of the way our minds conceptualise stuff, rather than a helpful description of reality.


* The English word 'something' is potentialy unhelpful in that it contains the word 'thing', but I would assert that etymology =/= meaning and no implications should be drawn from it.

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Joesaphat
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quote:
Originally posted by Ricardus:
quote:
Originally posted by Joesaphat:

It's all very well to blast Buddhism as incompatible with 'real' Christianity on the notion of self or soul, but when you have no counter-argument , it makes you look a little silly.

I stopped responding because here you indicated that you weren't going to post any more.

And I'm not 'blasting' Buddhism. My assertion is that most Christians hold to a concept of a soul which is incompatible with anatta. You seem to be responding that most Christians are wrong, which they may be, but this to me is just agreeing that the two views are incompatible, but that the incompatibility should be resolved in favour of the dhamma.

Now to my own views:

1. I personally find the afterlife to be the least satisfying point of Christian doctrine, so I am certainly not in the business of making assertions about what actually is the case (as opposed to what Christians believe is the case). But your original question was why Christians in general are leery about the dhamma.

2. I think we are getting excessively hung up on the words 'soul' and 'self', which is probably my fault.

The doctrine of the resurrection of the body requires that on some level the departed and the resurrected are the same person, which implies that 'something' has been passed on from one to the other (to create the continuity) and that this 'something' is real (in that it has real-world consequences). The problem is then that as soon as I assert the existence of a 'something'*, that immediately suggests the existence of an object that is basically like any other object but made of some magical material, but I think that suggestion is a quirk of the way our minds conceptualise stuff, rather than a helpful description of reality.


* The English word 'something' is potentialy unhelpful in that it contains the word 'thing', but I would assert that etymology =/= meaning and no implications should be drawn from it.

I think your last paragraph is one of the closest 'conceptual' approximation of what the Buddha taught.

With copious apologies for my abrasive tone.

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Arethosemyfeet
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Would a belief in reincarnation be one way of reconciling the passages in the New Testament that imply universal reconciliation with those that require salvation based on faith and works? Put bluntly, you keep going back until you get it right, with your past lives having a subconscious impact on your current one. There certainly seems to be an implication in the Gospels of a belief in at least the possibility of reincarnation (re: who do people say that I am?).
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Leorning Cniht
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quote:
Originally posted by Joesaphat:
I merely asked where people saw difficulties in a articulating one of the philosophies of the ancient world, one that is still thriving, when they generally see absolutely no problem importing concepts from Hellenistic philosophy.

There is a difference, I think, between using a different philosophical toolbox to think about Christanity, and forming a syncretic amalgam of Christianity and something else.

Using the toolbox of the people you're talking to makes sense - if you wanted to talk to me about your Christian faith using your Buddhist philosophical toolbox, you'd first have to teach me Buddhist philosophy, which doesn't strike me as an efficient process. If you were talking to a group of Buddhists, beginning with a frame of reference that they can relate to makes sense.

Unless you want to discuss insights that you think are only accessible with a different toolbox - if your case is that we are all in error because of some wonky assumptions in Greek philosophy - in which case we'd need a very serious technical discussion (and people who know a lot more than me to have it).

A lot of the language that you've used in this thread, however, comes across as more of a syncretic amalgam than a different toolbox. I don't know whether that's what you're doing or not, but it's the impression I get, which means you're setting off a whole load of warning bells.

It's particularly easy to get that impression because Buddhism is presented, rightly or wrongly, as a religion: one can be Christian, or Buddhist, or Muslim, or Hindu, or whatever else, whereas nobody presents being a Platonist in that light.

[ 10. December 2016, 14:02: Message edited by: Leorning Cniht ]

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Ricardus
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quote:
Originally posted by Joesaphat:
I think your last paragraph is one of the closest 'conceptual' approximation of what the Buddha taught.

I thought the Buddha went a little bit further, though, based on what he taught about dukkha (suffering).

Dukkha AIUI is, or is caused by, the gap between reality and what I want. E.g. I want to be young, healthy and alive, whereas the reality is that I will be old, sick and dead. The Buddha (and please correct me if I am mistaken) taught that since the 'I' is an illusion, the 'I's desires, and therefore the gap between them and reality, are also illusory, and when this is understood, there is no more place for dukkha.

Conversely Christianity doesn't say that our desires are illusory but rather that they should be properly directed towards God and neighbour. Now if desires can be attributed to the 'something-that-continues' as described in my previous post, ISTM that the something-that-continues has a bit more substance (??? can't think of a better word) than whatever passes between reincarnations in Buddhism.

quote:

With copious apologies for my abrasive tone.

No need to apologise. I admit to being a snarky git, and I'm sure you're an excellent pastor.

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Then the dog ran before, and coming as if he had brought the news, shewed his joy by his fawning and wagging his tail. -- Tobit 11:9 (Douai-Rheims)

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Joesaphat
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quote:
Originally posted by Ricardus:
quote:
Originally posted by Joesaphat:
I think your last paragraph is one of the closest 'conceptual' approximation of what the Buddha taught.

I thought the Buddha went a little bit further, though, based on what he taught about dukkha (suffering).

Dukkha AIUI is, or is caused by, the gap between reality and what I want. E.g. I want to be young, healthy and alive, whereas the reality is that I will be old, sick and dead. The Buddha (and please correct me if I am mistaken) taught that since the 'I' is an illusion, the 'I's desires, and therefore the gap between them and reality, are also illusory, and when this is understood, there is no more place for dukkha.

Conversely Christianity doesn't say that our desires are illusory but rather that they should be properly directed towards God and neighbour. Now if desires can be attributed to the 'something-that-continues' as described in my previous post, ISTM that the something-that-continues has a bit more substance (??? can't think of a better word) than whatever passes between reincarnations in Buddhism.

quote:

With copious apologies for my abrasive tone.

No need to apologise. I admit to being a snarky git, and I'm sure you're an excellent pastor.

Am in hospital, guys, damn it, and this requires a good connexion and lengthy answers. Merry Christmas

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Dafyd
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quote:
Originally posted by Joesaphat:
How any reputable thinker can still peddle the Aristotelian causes as a useful tool, even if only in matters of logic, is beyond me. The theory of evolution, although technically called a theory, is pretty solid science. Our organs, our bodies etcetera... have no 'purpose' in any final sense. They are not 'designed' for any particular use. They've evolved. They're adaptations.

I don't think that's an objection to Aristotelian causes in the logical sense. To say that organs are adaptations is to say that they have a final cause for which they're adapted. If the explanation of an elephant's ears is that they've adapted to radiate heat then that is a final cause explanation; even if you then parse that as elephants with smaller ears overheated more quickly than elephants with larger ears and so had fewer offspring.

That's not to say that final causes so understood have the kind of moral significance that conservative Roman Catholic sexual ethics wants them to. I don't think those arguments are coherent.

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Martin60
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I'll give you that Dafyd. The sixth six.

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Dafyd
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quote:
Originally posted by Joesaphat:
It's not, you are right, at least I'd argue the very same point. Do you have any reference for Augustine on the matter?

It's somewhere in the City of God.

quote:
I'd also be curious to know hoe those who think that 'God creates an immortal soul out of nothing' every time a child is conceived, which is medieval Catholic orthodoxy by the way, reconcile their alleged orthodoxy with discoveries in modern reproductive biology (fertilised eggs seldom make it to implantation, even less frequently to blastocyst stage and regularly turn into blastoma).
I'd assume that believers in the special creation of souls assume that God only ensouls cells God knows are going to survive.
Incidentally, I think it's not quite consistent to cite Aquinas in support of your view and then dismiss Catholic orthodoxy.

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Martin60
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'strewth are you on a roll.

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Dave W.
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quote:
Originally posted by Dafyd:
quote:
Originally posted by Joesaphat:
It's not, you are right, at least I'd argue the very same point. Do you have any reference for Augustine on the matter?

It's somewhere in the City of God.
There's some speculation about it in Confessions, Book 1, chapter 6 (p. 14 of the pdf):
quote:
9. And, behold, my infancy died long ago, but I am still living. But thou, O Lord, whose life is forever and in whom nothing dies--since before the world was, indeed, before all that can be called “before,” thou wast, and thou art the God and Lord of all thy creatures; and with thee abide all the stable causes of all unstable things, the unchanging sources of all changeable things, and the eternal reasons of all non-rational and temporal things--tell me, thy suppliant, O God, tell me, O merciful One, in pity tell a pitiful creature whether my infancy followed yet an earlier age of my life that had already passed away before it. Was it such another age which I spent in my mother’s womb? For something of that sort has been suggested to me, and I have myself seen pregnant women. But what, O God, my Joy, preceded that period of life? Was I, indeed, anywhere, or anybody? No one can explain these things to me, neither father nor mother, nor the experience of others, nor my own memory. Dost thou laugh at me for asking such things? Or dost thou command me to praise and confess unto thee only what I know?

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Joesaphat
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quote:
Originally posted by Dafyd:
quote:
Originally posted by Joesaphat:
How any reputable thinker can still peddle the Aristotelian causes as a useful tool, even if only in matters of logic, is beyond me. The theory of evolution, although technically called a theory, is pretty solid science. Our organs, our bodies etcetera... have no 'purpose' in any final sense. They are not 'designed' for any particular use. They've evolved. They're adaptations.

I don't think that's an objection to Aristotelian causes in the logical sense. To say that organs are adaptations is to say that they have a final cause for which they're adapted. If the explanation of an elephant's ears is that they've adapted to radiate heat then that is a final cause explanation; even if you then parse that as elephants with smaller ears overheated more quickly than elephants with larger ears and so had fewer offspring.

That's not to say that final causes so understood have the kind of moral significance that conservative Roman Catholic sexual ethics wants them to. I don't think those arguments are coherent.

Sure, but not necessarily 'one' final cause, and with absolutely no bearing on the morality of its use to other ends. I cannot see how one can reconcile this with a notion of divine design without also assuming that the designer made many, many tragic mistakes causing an awful lot of suffering.

Of course you can use Aquinas whilst ditching Roman Catholic orthodoxy. He need not be right on every count. I merely used the two passages as examples show that a conviction that souls do not constitute selves does not fall outside the bounds of even the most stringent Christian orthodoxy.

I could have quoted Ibn Sinna on the very same point without embracing Islam, only to show that the opinion discussed falls within Islamic orthodoxy, nothing more

[ 11. December 2016, 07:52: Message edited by: Joesaphat ]

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Joesaphat
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quote:
Originally posted by Ricardus:
[QUOTE]Originally posted by Joesaphat:
[qb]I think your last paragraph is one of the closest 'conceptual' approximation of what the Buddha taught.

I thought the Buddha went a little bit further, though, based on what he taught about dukkha (suffering).

Dukkha AIUI is, or is caused by, the gap between reality and what I want. E.g. I want to be young, healthy and alive, whereas the reality is that I will be old, sick and dead. The Buddha (and please correct me if I am mistaken) taught that since the 'I' is an illusion, the 'I's desires, and therefore the gap between them and reality, are also illusory, and when this is understood, there is no more place for dukkha.

Conversely Christianity doesn't say that our desires are illusory but rather that they should be properly directed towards God and neighbour. Now if desires can be attributed to the 'something-that-continues' as described in my previous post, ISTM that the something-that-continues has a bit more substance (??? can't think of a better word) than whatever passes between reincarnations in Buddhism.

[QUOTE][qb]

Sorry, but the Buddha does not teach that our desires are illusory. They're all too real.

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Joesaphat
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quote:
Originally posted by Leorning Cniht:
quote:
Originally posted by Joesaphat:
I merely asked where people saw difficulties in a articulating one of the philosophies of the ancient world, one that is still thriving, when they generally see absolutely no problem importing concepts from Hellenistic philosophy.

There is a difference, I think, between using a different philosophical toolbox to think about Christanity, and forming a syncretic amalgam of Christianity and something else.

Using the toolbox of the people you're talking to makes sense - if you wanted to talk to me about your Christian faith using your Buddhist philosophical toolbox, you'd first have to teach me Buddhist philosophy, which doesn't strike me as an efficient process. If you were talking to a group of Buddhists, beginning with a frame of reference that they can relate to makes sense.

Unless you want to discuss insights that you think are only accessible with a different toolbox - if your case is that we are all in error because of some wonky assumptions in Greek philosophy - in which case we'd need a very serious technical discussion (and people who know a lot more than me to have it).

A lot of the language that you've used in this thread, however, comes across as more of a syncretic amalgam than a different toolbox. I don't know whether that's what you're doing or not, but it's the impression I get, which means you're setting off a whole load of warning bells.

It's particularly easy to get that impression because Buddhism is presented, rightly or wrongly, as a religion: one can be Christian, or Buddhist, or Muslim, or Hindu, or whatever else, whereas nobody presents being a Platonist in that light.

To me, you are assuming what you are trying to establish: it's only a syncretism if the two things you are trying to mix are incompatible, which is what you have to show, not assume. petitio principii.

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Joesaphat
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quote:
Originally posted by Dave W.:
quote:
Originally posted by Dafyd:
quote:
Originally posted by Joesaphat:
It's not, you are right, at least I'd argue the very same point. Do you have any reference for Augustine on the matter?

It's somewhere in the City of God.
There's some speculation about it in Confessions, Book 1, chapter 6 (p. 14 of the pdf):
quote:
9. And, behold, my infancy died long ago, but I am still living. But thou, O Lord, whose life is forever and in whom nothing dies--since before the world was, indeed, before all that can be called “before,” thou wast, and thou art the God and Lord of all thy creatures; and with thee abide all the stable causes of all unstable things, the unchanging sources of all changeable things, and the eternal reasons of all non-rational and temporal things--tell me, thy suppliant, O God, tell me, O merciful One, in pity tell a pitiful creature whether my infancy followed yet an earlier age of my life that had already passed away before it. Was it such another age which I spent in my mother’s womb? For something of that sort has been suggested to me, and I have myself seen pregnant women. But what, O God, my Joy, preceded that period of life? Was I, indeed, anywhere, or anybody? No one can explain these things to me, neither father nor mother, nor the experience of others, nor my own memory. Dost thou laugh at me for asking such things? Or dost thou command me to praise and confess unto thee only what I know?

it could also be referring to the origenian belief in the pre-existence of souls.

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Joesaphat
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quote:
Originally posted by Dafyd:
quote:
Originally posted by Joesaphat:
It's not, you are right, at least I'd argue the very same point. Do you have any reference for Augustine on the matter?

It's somewhere in the City of God.

quote:
I'd also be curious to know hoe those who think that 'God creates an immortal soul out of nothing' every time a child is conceived, which is medieval Catholic orthodoxy by the way, reconcile their alleged orthodoxy with discoveries in modern reproductive biology (fertilised eggs seldom make it to implantation, even less frequently to blastocyst stage and regularly turn into blastoma).
I'd assume that believers in the special creation of souls assume that God only ensouls cells God knows are going to survive.
Incidentally, I think it's not quite consistent to cite Aquinas in support of your view and then dismiss Catholic orthodoxy.

Assume away, but how do they claim to know all these things? Why assume that 'God foreknows which cells are going to implant and develop aright among dozens and only to these will he grant immortal souls' rather than souls are a mere concept at best, an unnecessary hypothesis or don't exist?

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Leorning Cniht
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quote:
Originally posted by Joesaphat:
To me, you are assuming what you are trying to establish: it's only a syncretism if the two things you are trying to mix are incompatible

I don't agree. If you are trying to "mix", it's syncretic. If you're trying to examine Christ in the light of a different set of philosophical tools, it's not.
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Joesaphat
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quote:
Originally posted by Leorning Cniht:
quote:
Originally posted by Joesaphat:
To me, you are assuming what you are trying to establish: it's only a syncretism if the two things you are trying to mix are incompatible

I don't agree. If you are trying to "mix", it's syncretic. If you're trying to examine Christ in the light of a different set of philosophical tools, it's not.
Then it's a mere quarrel over terms. But why should, say, since he was quoted above, Augustine's constant use of Platonic concepts not be deemed syncretism whereas Buddhist concepts are deemed different? That was my question from the beginning, and no, I'm not suggesting that Buddhist thought should be imported wholesale. Why, Buddhists schools disagree among themselves on these notions too.

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quetzalcoatl
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After all, people could cherry-pick, no? I know this has never been tried before in Christianity, but there's always a first time for everything.

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lilBuddha
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quote:
Originally posted by Joesaphat:
But why should, say, since he was quoted above, Augustine's constant use of Platonic concepts not be deemed syncretism whereas Buddhist concepts are deemed different?

They are different because, as pointed out previously, what Christianity is came as a result of those concepts. Christianity is very Western.
This is a different issue to whether that should remain the case, of course.
And Buddhism is what it is because of its origins as well. Why do you then object to a Western view of Buddhism?

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So goodnight moon, I want the sun
If it's not here soon, I might be done
No it won't be too soon 'til I say goodnight moon

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Joesaphat
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quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
quote:
Originally posted by Joesaphat:
But why should, say, since he was quoted above, Augustine's constant use of Platonic concepts not be deemed syncretism whereas Buddhist concepts are deemed different?

They are different because, as pointed out previously, what Christianity is came as a result of those concepts. Christianity is very Western.
This is a different issue to whether that should remain the case, of course.
And Buddhism is what it is because of its origins as well. Why do you then object to a Western view of Buddhism?

Oh utter fucking bullshit, Christianity is not essentially Western. The Gospels are written in Greek. jesus was Jewish, all the apostles and most Fathers were from the Middle East. Till the late Middle Ages, its centre of gravity was not the barbarian West. And to this days, millions of Christians are not western Indeed, it is almost dead in the European world. Bullshit.

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Joesaphat
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This time, I've had it. Good bye folks, enjoy the site.

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Leorning Cniht
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quote:
Originally posted by Joesaphat:
Then it's a mere quarrel over terms.

No, I don't think it's that at all. I think there's a fundamental point here. Are you using Plato, or Buddha, or whoever else, as a toolbox to examine Christ, or are you taking some things from Christ, some from Plato, some from Buddha and so on?

It might not always look very different in practice, but I think the difference in motivation is important.

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Ricardus
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quote:
Originally posted by quetzalcoatl:
After all, people could cherry-pick, no? I know this has never been tried before in Christianity, but there's always a first time for everything.

There is such a thing as the Jesus Sutras, written in Chinese in the first millennium - they seem to be what happens when a Church of the East community syncretised itself (if that's a word) with the dominant philosophies of China. Some of them look like fairly recognisable Christianity with words like karma and dharma thrown in and some of them look like essentially Buddhist dialogues where the main characters are called 'Simon' and 'the Messiah'.

The current Church of the East is, AFAIK, fairly orthodox, so the Jesus Sutras represent a bit of a dead end (which isn't necessarily their fault - all parts of the Church of the East declined precipitously in the second millennium for various reasons).

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Then the dog ran before, and coming as if he had brought the news, shewed his joy by his fawning and wagging his tail. -- Tobit 11:9 (Douai-Rheims)

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