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Source: (consider it) Thread: What should we do about 'our own' terrorists?
Gamaliel
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Ha ha ha ...

There is, of course, a difference between people using the scriptures - either the OT or the NT - to justify their use of religiously motivated violence and claiming that the NT actively 'commands' us to engage in religiously motivated violence.

Yes, of course Charlemagne was wrong to massacre those Saxons but in the context of his times it would have been justified or condoned as a means to deter future rebellion or further violence - which is exactly how Cromwell justified his actions in Ireland - or how the US justified the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki come to that.

As I keep saying, because I seek to understand the context it doesn't mean I condone the actions.

On the tradition thing, I'd be more than happy to list aspects of Christian belief that fall into that category, most of which we all share in common.

If I were to restrict the discussion to one particular strand of Christianity, for the purposes of illustration, then one could say that Dispensationalism is an aspect of a certain kind of evangelical tradition, but is by no means universal across evangelicalism as a whole.

Or that close church-state relations are certainly part of the tradition across some of the historic Churches and those that arose from the initial stages of the Reformation, but is by no means binding or a dogmatic requirement across those Churches at all times and in all places.

I'm not getting into the woods of the detail as to which traditions I accept, reject or am agnostic about - that's not the point at issue.

All I am asserting is that our hermeneutical methods are themselves part and parcel of our traditions and colour how we interpret the scriptures.

That's all.

It's a fairly obvious and uncontentious point.

--------------------
Let us with a gladsome mind
Praise the Lord for He is kind.

http://philthebard.blogspot.com

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Dafyd
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quote:
Originally posted by Kaplan Corday:
quote:
Originally posted by Dafyd:
Firstly the NT teaches that the Old Testament is authoritative except where superseded, or rather, except where clarified by the New Testament.

Which is what I have stated a number of times in this discussion, and which rules out any Christian justification for religious genocide a la Joshua.
Nowhere does the New Testament condemn religious genocide. The NT does not explicitly supersede / clarify the OT on this point.

And to repeat: nowhere does the NT offer any non-tautologous criteria that allow one to distinguish between just and unjust wars.

--------------------
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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Aye, Jesus couldn't not believe in Himself as having been God the Killer. The ultimate case of cognitive dissonance. Luckily His true divine nature transcended that human limitation.

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Love wins

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Gamaliel
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quote:
Originally posted by Dafyd:
quote:
Originally posted by Kaplan Corday:
quote:
Originally posted by Dafyd:
Firstly the NT teaches that the Old Testament is authoritative except where superseded, or rather, except where clarified by the New Testament.

Which is what I have stated a number of times in this discussion, and which rules out any Christian justification for religious genocide a la Joshua.
Nowhere does the New Testament condemn religious genocide. The NT does not explicitly supersede / clarify the OT on this point.

And to repeat: nowhere does the NT offer any non-tautologous criteria that allow one to distinguish between just and unjust wars.

Sure, which is one of the reasons I have difficulty with the somewhat wooden proof-text approach that some seem to favour.

The NT doesn't specifically condemn arson either, but neither does it promote it.

But yes, I agree with your main point, the onus in deciding what does or does not constitute a just war lies with us.

There isn't a text we can cite to settle the issue one way or another.

Were Cromwell and the Parliamentarians justified in taking up arms against Charles I?

The answer to that isn't going to be found in some neat and incontrovertible proof-text.

Charlemagne and the Crusaders would presumably have claimed that their cause was just.

Again, there's no stand-alone NT text that tells us that it wasn't.

I happen to think they were wrong, but that's not because there's a text lurking in Romans somewhere that says, 'Rulers are entitled to use violence to mete out justice - unless they happen to be Christian rulers in which case they shouldn't even think about it - and as for using force to impose religious uniformity ...'

Of course, I believe that Charlemagne's actions go against the grain and the whole tenor and thrust of the NT. But he wouldn't have done. Neither would his contemporaries.

For some reason I'm getting some stick for pointing that out as if in so doing I'm claiming that the NT condones or even commands such activity.

The binariness of it all is truly beyond.

--------------------
Let us with a gladsome mind
Praise the Lord for He is kind.

http://philthebard.blogspot.com

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Jamat
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quote:
Gamaliel: The answer to that isn't going to be found in some neat and incontrovertible proof-text.

Charlemagne and the Crusaders would presumably have claimed that their cause was just.

Again, there's no stand-alone NT text that tells us that it wasn't.

This seems to suggest to me that you are dismissing any Biblical evidence as proof texting.

To me proof texting is a justification exercise and is pretty identifiable. You want to make a point so you quote a verse that backs you, probably ignoring context.

Is anyone doing this? What is being argued is that Jesus and the apostles focused on regeneration via the cross, not social change via politics or war. You can disagree but where is the justification? The tenor of scripture argues this is the case.

There is as Kaplan Corday says, no way you can exegete the NT to justify what many would quite like to..that Christianity, can be justifiably used as an authority to force conversions or to conquer territory as Islam undoubtedly can.

Also, regarding tradition. As you have now stated you do not intend to identify any specific traditional elements that you believe in, or think might be justifiable, it is hard to know what you mean by the term.

--------------------
Jamat ..in utmost longditude, where Heaven
with Earth and ocean meets, the setting sun slowly descended, and with right aspect
Against the eastern gate of Paradise. (Milton Paradise Lost Bk iv)

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Gamaliel
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(Sighs)

Is it just me?

Is it just Jamat and me?

Is anyone else here having difficulty follow my drift and understanding what I'm getting at?

I will try again ...

On proof-texts. Yes, I agree with your definition. I also happen to think that you do it fairly regularly.

But it's a secondary point here.

My main point isn't that the NT teaches religiously motivated violence. I don't believe it does.

However, if, like Charlemagne or some other early mediaeval ruler, you have a tradition that favours a monocultural, monolithic state with one religious expression in the interests of peace and harmony, then you are going to interpret the NT in the light of that.

Consequently, whilst you might not go out and commit genocide, you might not be that squeamish about using state control to enforce religious conformity.

It's only been in comparatively recent times that socio-political and cultural factors have supported versions of religious diversity and the exercise of individual conscience. Ok, the Roman Empire was fairly tolerant of diverse religious expressions, provided you also declared that 'Caesar is Lord' alongside that.

So it's hardly surprising that people in times past didn't interpret the NT as encouraging see kind of religion / state separation and freedom of conscience in terms of individual belief. The conditions for that did not exist.

On the issue of tradition, I'm using that term to refer to whatever milieu, framework or set of interpretative tools, approaches and conditions that help to form and shape the way we tackle and understand the scriptures and express our faith.

Those traditions overlap and are congruent to a great extent, but there are also variations and differences, mostly over issues that could be described as secondary.

I have given several examples to illustrate my point.

For instance, within evangelicalism you'll find evangelicals who favour Dispensationalism. You'll find plenty of others who don't. So Dispensationalism is an evangelical tradition but not one to which all evangelicals adhere.

Equally, I've alluded to how a belief in close church-state relations has been a feature of many of the historic Churches. That doesn't mean that all Catholics, Orthodox, Lutherans or Anglicans favour close church-state links or Established Churches. Mousethief is Orthodox. That doesn't mean he wants his native USA to have a Tsar and become a latter-day version of Holy Russia or the Byzantine Empire.

The simple point is that our traditions, whatever they are, help determine and shape our approach.

If you are a Dispensationalist you will approach the scriptures that way.

If you believe in close church-state relations then that will influence how you interpret and apply the scriptures.

Of course, these aren't the only influences and for the most part they operate in a symbiotic way with the text rather than running parallel to it in a kind of dislocated way.

Acknowledging that these things exist and influence us doesn't diminish the authority or inspiration of the texts themselves, rather it is a matter of observation about how these things work in practice.

We all of us operate in the context of one tradition or other or a range of influences drawn from a variety of traditions and sources.

In the case of Charlemagne, Cromwell or Charles 1st, this helped shape and inform their particular actions.

On the case of a St Francis of Assisi, say, it led to other courses of action.

All this, I would say, is axiomatic.

I really don't understand why you are making such heavy weather out of this.

None of us read the Bible in isolation. None of us approach these things outside of a tradition, even if we might have done at one time. We are all of us shaped and influenced by the environments we inhabit. You, me, Kaplan, Charlemagne, everyone else.

--------------------
Let us with a gladsome mind
Praise the Lord for He is kind.

http://philthebard.blogspot.com

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Gamaliel
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For someone who puts a great emphasis on correct exegesis, Jamat, you aren't making a very good job of exegeting what other people here write.

Neither is Kaplan.

I acknowledge that I can be long-winded.

But I can't see how I nor anyone else here can make it clearer that whilst we don't believe the NT teaches the use of force to impose religious uniformity or to combat heresies or deal with pagans - it is possible to see how people in medieval times wouldn't have shared the same conviction.

That doesn't mean we condone it.

Nor does it mean we don't take the NT seriously or sit loosely by sound exegesis.

It is very hard you know,and very frustrating to discuss things with people who either wilfully ignore and misunderstand what one is trying to say or else twists one's remarks to make them say something else again.

The reason I've not gone into detail as to which Christian traditions I personally do or don't accept is because it isn't pertinent to the main point I'm making.

This isn't about what Gamaliel believes do much as how bodies of people approach and interpret texts in the light of their own particular socio-cultural and historical context.

Whether I am a credo-baptist, a paedobaptist, a sacramentalist, a Dispensationalist,a Pentecostal or whatever else isn't the issue here.

The issue is historical context.

--------------------
Let us with a gladsome mind
Praise the Lord for He is kind.

http://philthebard.blogspot.com

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Martin60
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quote:
Originally posted by Jamat:
quote:
Gamaliel: The answer to that isn't going to be found in some neat and incontrovertible proof-text.

Charlemagne and the Crusaders would presumably have claimed that their cause was just.

Again, there's no stand-alone NT text that tells us that it wasn't.

This seems to suggest to me that you are dismissing any Biblical evidence as proof texting.

To me proof texting is a justification exercise and is pretty identifiable. You want to make a point so you quote a verse that backs you, probably ignoring context.

Is anyone doing this? What is being argued is that Jesus and the apostles focused on regeneration via the cross, not social change via politics or war. You can disagree but where is the justification? The tenor of scripture argues this is the case.

There is as Kaplan Corday says, no way you can exegete the NT to justify what many would quite like to..that Christianity, can be justifiably used as an authority to force conversions or to conquer territory as Islam undoubtedly can.

Also, regarding tradition. As you have now stated you do not intend to identify any specific traditional elements that you believe in, or think might be justifiable, it is hard to know what you mean by the term.

How old is the universe?

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Love wins

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Kaplan Corday
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quote:
Originally posted by Dafyd:
Nowhere does the New Testament condemn religious genocide.

Obviously true and overwhelmingly pointless.
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Kaplan Corday
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quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:
As I keep saying, because I seek to understand the context it doesn't mean I condone the actions.

We agree that a past piece of exegesis can be unsatisfactory, that the actions which flowed from it cannot be condoned, and that there are reasons historically specific to the era for why and how the dodgy exegesis (implicit or explicit) took place.

But you repeatedly prop at that point, and come up against some sort of mental block which prevents your taking the next step and simply admitting that the unscriptural action and its unscriptural rationale were and are simply wrong.

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mr cheesy
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quote:
Originally posted by Kaplan Corday:


But you repeatedly prop at that point, and come up against some sort of mental block which prevents your taking the next step and simply admitting that the unscriptural action and its unscriptural rationale were and are simply wrong.

Because genocide, intolerance, rape, murder and various other things are biblical. Just stating that they're not doesn't change anything.

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my new book: Biblical But Bollocks. Available in all good bookshops.

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Jamat
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quote:
Gamaliel: I can't see how I nor anyone else here can make it clearer that whilst we don't believe the NT teaches the use of force to impose religious uniformity or to combat heresies or deal with pagans - it is possible to see how people in medieval times wouldn't have shared the same conviction
It is only possible if they were not acting from a Christian motive,mentality or mindset.

Regarding tradition though, your refusal to be specific about what traditions you think are right over the 2000 odd years of Christian history makes me think your references to tradition are just a smokescreen so you can hedge your bets regarding truth and not commit to anything you don't want to just because it is manifestly scriptural, on the grounds that "It's not as simple as that!" Also, I do not proof text.

Martin 60 the universe is as old as its tongue and a bit older than its teeth but we've had that discussion elsewhere.

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Gamaliel
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Which brings us back to the 'No True Scotsman Fallacy.'

You or I wouldn't consider Charlemagne and the Crusaders to be acting with a 'Christian motive, mentality or mindset' but that's not how they would have viewed their actions, nor would it have been the view of most - if not all - of their contemporaries.

Are you saying that nobody whatsoever in the 8th or the 12th centuries etc were operating with Christian motives, mentality or mindsets?

You've already indicated that you believe that Oliver Cromwell was acting in accordance with his conscience ... why do you believe that of him, for instance, and not of the Crusaders or Charlemagne?

Why were his actions in Ireland any more credible or commendable on conscientious grounds than the actions of Charlemagne or the Crusaders?

On the tradition thing, no I'm not hedging my bets in order to lay a smokescreen in order to avoid accepting things that are 'manifestly scriptural.'

I accept plenty of things I believe to be scriptural. What I don't do is pretend that tradition isn't a factor in deciding what is or isn't 'manifestly scriptural'.

As for your not proof-texting. I can't be the only one here who has noticed your being challenged about that several times here aboard Ship. With good reason.

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Let us with a gladsome mind
Praise the Lord for He is kind.

http://philthebard.blogspot.com

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Nick Tamen

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quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:
On the issue of tradition, I'm using that term to refer to whatever milieu, framework or set of interpretative tools, approaches and conditions that help to form and shape the way we tackle and understand the scriptures and express our faith.

Gamaliel, can I suggest that this might be part of the problem. In the context of understanding Scripture and doctrine, Tradition (sacred Tradition/Holy Tradition) has a specific meaning. It refers to the body of teaching believed to be passed down from the apostles. Even in Protestant usage, it can refer to something fairly definite in terms of a doctrinal and ecclesial approach, such as in reference to the Reformed Tradition.

The definition you give above is, I think, much broader, and pulls in a variety of other factors—political, world-view, social etc.—beyond just "the teaching handed down" in a given strand of Christianity. Perhaps a different word would serve you better.

--------------------
The first thing God says to Moses is, "Take off your shoes." We are on holy ground. Hard to believe, but the truest thing I know. — Anne Lamott

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Dafyd
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# 5549

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quote:
Originally posted by Kaplan Corday:
quote:
Originally posted by Dafyd:
Nowhere does the New Testament condemn religious genocide.

Obviously true and overwhelmingly pointless.
I feel like Michael Palin in the Monty Python argument sketch.
'Argument is an intellectual process. Contradiction is just the automatic gainsaying of anything the other person says.'
'No, it isn't.'

You are either saying it is overwhelmingly pointless because you believe on rational grounds that it is overwhelmingly pointless, or else you are saying it because you want it to be overwhelmingly pointless and think that if you shout it often enough you can shout down any opposing view to the contrary.
At the moment there is little to no evidence for the former hypothesis.

--------------------
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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quote:
Originally posted by Jamat:
quote:
Gamaliel: I can't see how I nor anyone else here can make it clearer that whilst we don't believe the NT teaches the use of force to impose religious uniformity or to combat heresies or deal with pagans - it is possible to see how people in medieval times wouldn't have shared the same conviction
It is only possible if they were not acting from a Christian motive,mentality or mindset.

Regarding tradition though, your refusal to be specific about what traditions you think are right over the 2000 odd years of Christian history makes me think your references to tradition are just a smokescreen so you can hedge your bets regarding truth and not commit to anything you don't want to just because it is manifestly scriptural, on the grounds that "It's not as simple as that!" Also, I do not proof text.

Martin 60 the universe is as old as its tongue and a bit older than its teeth but we've had that discussion elsewhere.

Tongues and teeth evolved four hundred million years ago on Earth. Earlier elsewhere obviously. So not 6 'days' ago.

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Love wins

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Gamaliel
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quote:
Originally posted by Nick Tamen:
quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:
On the issue of tradition, I'm using that term to refer to whatever milieu, framework or set of interpretative tools, approaches and conditions that help to form and shape the way we tackle and understand the scriptures and express our faith.

Gamaliel, can I suggest that this might be part of the problem. In the context of understanding Scripture and doctrine, Tradition (sacred Tradition/Holy Tradition) has a specific meaning. It refers to the body of teaching believed to be passed down from the apostles. Even in Protestant usage, it can refer to something fairly definite in terms of a doctrinal and ecclesial approach, such as in reference to the Reformed Tradition.

The definition you give above is, I think, much broader, and pulls in a variety of other factors—political, world-view, social etc.—beyond just "the teaching handed down" in a given strand of Christianity. Perhaps a different word would serve you better.

Ok. Any suggestions?

I was primarily thinking of Christian traditions rather than what we might call 'external' influences such as socio-economic, cultural and other factors - although they are certainly part of the equation too, of course.

So, for instance, I was making what I felt was a rather obvious point -

- That if you are Pentecostal you read the scriptures through a Pentecostal lens.

- If Reformed, a Reformed lens ...

And so on ...

So, by extension, if you are Charlemagne in an early medieval, post-Augustinian but pre-Reformation / pre-Enlightenment setting ... then, guess what? You are going to read the scriptures in a way that is commensurate with that.

But I take the point you're making.

--------------------
Let us with a gladsome mind
Praise the Lord for He is kind.

http://philthebard.blogspot.com

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Nick Tamen

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I get that you were thinking mainly of Christian traditions along the lines you describe, Gamaliel. But I think that for this discussion, use of "tradition" may get in the way. I assumed a more limited, term-of-art meaning until I read your description.

It seems to me that what you're describing is really experience. We read Scripture through the lens of our experience. That experience is largely shaped by the understandings, beliefs and, in some cases, Tradition—sometimes accurately conveyed to us, sometimes not—of our particular room in the Christian household, be it Catholic, Reformed, Anglican, Pentecostal or whatever.

But it's also shaped by the world we live in and the place we hold in that world. If all we know is a world where a king rules by divine right and all subjects of that king must share the king's religion, our lens will be different from that of someone living in a modern liberal democracy, or someone living as a tolerated-only-to-a-point religious minority.

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The first thing God says to Moses is, "Take off your shoes." We are on holy ground. Hard to believe, but the truest thing I know. — Anne Lamott

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Gamaliel
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Yes, that's what I've been trying to say.

--------------------
Let us with a gladsome mind
Praise the Lord for He is kind.

http://philthebard.blogspot.com

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Russ
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quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:

Of course, I believe that Charlemagne's actions go against the grain and the whole tenor and thrust of the NT. But he wouldn't have done. Neither would his contemporaries.

For some reason I'm getting some stick for pointing that out as if in so doing I'm claiming that the NT condones or even commands such activity.

The binariness of it all is truly beyond.

Seems to me it's more of a trinary. I'm struggling to see how anyone can reconcile the three legs of the trilemna:
- I stand fully for Christianity
- this was in every sense a Christian act
- this was a horribly wrong act that I totally condemn.

You're not the sort of atheist who denies the first ("religion is responsible for so many evils...")

I don't believe you're the sort of mealy-mouthed apologist who denies the third ("Christianity brought the Saxons so many benefits, we really shouldn't make too much of one little misunderstanding...")

But you don't seem to want to deny the second, either in the way Kaplan does (not real NT-based soundly-exegetical true Christianity, but instead what is in effect a heresy pretending to the name of Christianity) or in the way I do (not an act rooted in Charlemagne's Christianity but in his 8th-century ideas of strong kingship)

You've convincingly and repeatedly argued that interpretation is both inescapable and coloured by cultural context. But if anything, that seems to point to a fourth way of resolving the tension, a way which denies that talk of Christianity as such is meaningful. There are only Christianities - yours, mine, Charlemagne's - and having one's own doesn't imply any agreement with anyone else's. Interpretation is everything.

But if I understand you right, you're not saying that either.

So how do you resolve that 3-way tension ?

--------------------
Wish everyone well; the enemy is not people, the enemy is wrong ideas

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Kaplan Corday
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quote:
Originally posted by Dafyd:
You are either saying it is overwhelmingly pointless because you believe on rational grounds that it is overwhelmingly pointless, or else you are saying it because you want it to be overwhelmingly pointless and think that if you shout it often enough you can shout down any opposing view to the contrary.

I am stating it is pointless on the same grounds as you think it is pointless.

I do not believe for one second that you seriously imagine that the absence of an explicit repudiation of religious genocide in the NT leaves the question open as to whether or not the NT condones the protection and propagation of the Christian faith by means of religious genocide.

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Kaplan Corday
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quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
Because genocide, intolerance, rape, murder and various other things are biblical.

You are playing the same silly semantic game with the ambiguous term "biblical" as you did with the ambiguous term "valid".

Biblical can mean "referred to in the Bible" or "commanded by the Bible".

Yes, religious genocide is commanded by God of Israel in the OT (which, as I have said in the past, I freely admit to neither understanding nor supporting), but is not commanded, and in fact is implicitly forbidden, in the NT, which for Christians is the last word.

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mr cheesy
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quote:
Originally posted by Kaplan Corday:
quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
Because genocide, intolerance, rape, murder and various other things are biblical.

You are playing the same silly semantic game with the ambiguous term "biblical" as you did with the ambiguous term "valid".

Biblical can mean "referred to in the Bible" or "commanded by the Bible".

Both of which are options.

quote:
Yes, religious genocide is commanded by God of Israel in the OT (which, as I have said in the past, I freely admit to neither understanding nor supporting), but is not commanded, and in fact is implicitly forbidden, in the NT, which for Christians is the last word.
Only because you interpret it like that. You are constantly mistaking your own interpretation for the only-possible-reading. Wrong.

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Gamaliel
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Those are good points and good questions, Russ, but I'm not so sure the 'trilemma' is as 'trinary' as it might at first appear.

Like you, I believe that Charlemagne's actions primarily derived from 8th or 9th century notions of strong kingship.

That would have applied equally had Charlemagne been an Arian, a pagan,a Muslim ruler or whatever else.

However, as a ruler in a society and context that had become 'Christianised' in the broad sense - in a kind of Constantinian and state-sanctioned way - then he would be bound to draw on what contemporaries may have seen as direct or indirect biblical precedents.

That doesn't make the scriptures the motivation for his actions, as it were, rather he may have drawn some form of precedence or justification from them.

In a similar way, the early settlers in New England cited Joshua to justify the massacre of Pequod non-combatants or Cromwell saw his victories as a mark of divine favour and Providence.

I am not for a moment suggesting that the NT 'commands' genocide not that it 'teaches' the imposition of religious uniformity by force - but then that was never a possibility for a small religious sect in the 1st century, so it's not the sort of thing we would reasonably expect the NT to cover directly. That wasn't a pressing issue.

However, what I am suggesting is that in a secondary sense, early medieval rulers would undoubtedly understood the Pauline observations about rulers wielding the sword legitimately as justification for any violence they meted out.

Charlemagne's execution of 4,500 Saxons followed a rebellion. That would have legitimised it under the rules of engagement at that time. Because it was essentially a highly 'religious' society then it's hardly surprising that religious justification ran in parallel with that.

Some historians believe that the figure of 4,500 is exaggerated, but even if it were 4, 45 or 450 it was still reprehensible - and the more so that it was followed by a threat to execute anyone else who didn't get baptised.

The point I'm making of course, is about context and conditions. I don't see how that posits a competing range of individual or conditional 'Christianities' though.

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Martin60
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The love of God is on a long, endless and worse, Sisyphean uphill trajectory against culture, our institutionalized herd behaviour.

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Love wins

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Gamaliel
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quote:
Originally posted by Kaplan Corday:
quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
Because genocide, intolerance, rape, murder and various other things are biblical.

You are playing the same silly semantic game with the ambiguous term "biblical" as you did with the ambiguous term "valid".

Biblical can mean "referred to in the Bible" or "commanded by the Bible".

Yes, religious genocide is commanded by God of Israel in the OT (which, as I have said in the past, I freely admit to neither understanding nor supporting), but is not commanded, and in fact is implicitly forbidden, in the NT, which for Christians is the last word.

Come, come, Kaplan, you should have realised by now that there are 'tools' available within the various Christian hermeneutical approaches that can help us deal with the conumdrum of the OT genocides ...

[Biased]

We can allegorise them, for a kick-off.

We can take them as 'myth' (in the C S Lewis sense) rather than historiography in the modern sense - although based on actual historical events and a particular historical context ...

To all intents and purposes, of course, our approach to the Hebrew scriptures have been 'Christianised' and this process started with the Gospel writers themselves.

It's one thing to claim, as Jamat does, that we need to recover a 'Jewish' way of reading the scriptures - and I can understand why he suggests that - but when you look at the implications that ain't always going to be the healthiest option ...

I'll forgo a tangent at this point.

So, yes, I agree that the NT 'supersedes' or rather fulfils the Hebrew scriptures - and no, it doesn't 'command' or 'teach' us to enforce religious uniformity with the sword.

I would agree with you that the implicit teaching of the NT and the whole thrust and tenor of it is against that ...

But at the risk of repeating myself yet again, that is only because you and I live in a society and context where we have been conditioned not to expect the opposite.

You seem unable to take the imaginative leap to put yourself in the shoes of an 8th century believer in a Christianised Western Europe that still bore some elements and vestiges of bully-boy pagan warlord society ... as well as a harping back to its imperial Roman past.

That's where I find Larry Siedentop's argument of interest in 'Inventing The Individual'.

It took centuries for these things to work themselves out. Christianity took hundreds of years to become embedded in Anglo-Saxon, Frankish and Visigoth societies and it was to be many hundreds of years more before it spread into Lithuania and the Baltic region - sadly, through conquest and the sword ...

I really don't understand why you would expect an 8th century monk to necessarily reach the same conclusions as you or I do from reading the scriptures when they were operating within a completely different paradigm and mindset.

We can yell, 'But that's not in the NT!' until we are blue in the face but that doesn't alter the fact that they were operating in a different kind of way, applying a whole different way of thinking, a different set of hermeneutical principles too - as well as some that overlap with our own of course.

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Martin60
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Homophobia in any modern sense isn't in it either of course. That doesn't stop the Church.

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Gamaliel
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Again, a Dead Horse tangent, Martin60, surely?

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Martin60
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Really? It makes the point about what is and what is not in the NT being irrelevant to the Church now let alone historically.

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Dafyd
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quote:
Originally posted by Kaplan Corday:
I do not believe for one second that you seriously imagine that the absence of an explicit repudiation of religious genocide in the NT leaves the question open as to whether or not the NT condones the protection and propagation of the Christian faith by means of religious genocide.

The argument that the NT condemns the profit motive and the accumulation of wealth is far stronger than the argument that the NT condemns genocide but condones war to defend minorities of another religion. And I think there are a lot of good Christians who find the argument that the NT condemns the accumulation of wealth unconvincing.

You keep saying 'NT' instead of 'Bible' or 'Scripture'. This amounts to a tacit admission.

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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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Jamat
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quote:
KaplanCorday;
Yes, religious genocide is commanded by God of Israel in the OT (which, as I have said in the past, I freely admit to neither understanding nor supporting), but is not commanded, and in fact is implicitly forbidden, in the NT, which for Christians is the last word.
MrCheesy:
Only because you interpret it like that. You are constantly mistaking your own interpretation for the only-possible-reading. Wrong.

The assumption behind this is that I can take any text and in the name of 'validly interptreting,' I can say it does not say what it says and no one is allowed to tell me I am mistaken.

Kaplan Corday's claim is extremely straightforward and readily verifiable by a child of 10 who can read English.

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mr cheesy
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quote:
Originally posted by Jamat:


Kaplan Corday's claim is extremely straightforward and readily verifiable by a child of 10 who can read English.

I see. So obviously anyone who said any different was thicker than a child of 10.

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Jamat
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quote:
Gamaliel: I really don't understand why you would expect an 8th century monk to necessarily reach the same conclusions as you or I do from reading the scriptures when they were operating within a completely different paradigm and mindset
This suggests though that mindsets and cultural paradigms cannot be overcome. But they can. Pretty well every one of the reformers was aCatholic priest who read the scriptures and thought something like, "Oi,this can't be right! No indulgences in here." The Holy Spirit's way of reaching people is often directly via the scriptures.

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Jamat ..in utmost longditude, where Heaven
with Earth and ocean meets, the setting sun slowly descended, and with right aspect
Against the eastern gate of Paradise. (Milton Paradise Lost Bk iv)

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Crœsos
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quote:
Originally posted by Kaplan Corday:
quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
Because genocide, intolerance, rape, murder and various other things are biblical.

You are playing the same silly semantic game with the ambiguous term "biblical" as you did with the ambiguous term "valid".

Biblical can mean "referred to in the Bible" or "commanded by the Bible".

Yes, religious genocide is commanded by God of Israel in the OT (which, as I have said in the past, I freely admit to neither understanding nor supporting), . . .

Which would seem to make it "Biblical" no matter how you parse the term.

quote:
Originally posted by Kaplan Corday:
. . . but is not commanded, and in fact is implicitly forbidden, in the NT, which for Christians is the last word.

"Implicitly forbidden"? Is that one of those liberal theological "if you take the general arc and context . . . " type of arguments that usually get such short shrift in other contexts?

Still, if you've got an New Testament exhortation to rulers to put wrongdoers to the sword and still maintain that it is wrong to worship non-Christian deities (i.e. it's a form of "wrongdoing"), the implication would seem exactly contrary to what you claim.

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Humani nil a me alienum puto

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mr cheesy
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quote:
Originally posted by Jamat:
This suggests though that mindsets and cultural paradigms cannot be overcome. But they can. Pretty well every one of the reformers was aCatholic priest who read the scriptures and thought something like, "Oi,this can't be right! No indulgences in here."

The Holy Spirit's way of reaching people is often directly via the scriptures.

IMO the Holy Spirit rarely works directly via the scriptures. If one is being prodded to change paradigm, that's rarely due to increasing the reading of scripture and everything to do with influences from elsewhere which give an alternative view on what scripture says.

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Gamaliel
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I'm not suggesting that paradigms can't be overcome. Of course they can. It takes time, though.

How long did it take to abolish slavery, for instance?

On the Indulgences example, as far as I know they still exist within the RCC but not in quite the same way as they did in the early 1500s.

So that particular paradigm hasn't entirely disappeared.

The sort of mindset I'm referring to with my 8th century example is deeper than that, though - it's more to do with 'might is right' and concepts such as the Divine Right of kings ...

You don't have to look very far for scriptural support for that if your societal and cultural background inclines in that direction. After all, even pagan rulers are 'appointed by God' according to no less an authority than the Apostle Paul and have the right to wield the sword against malefactors.

It's not a giant imaginative leap to see how 8th centuries rulers would apply that to themselves when faced by what they saw as rebellions against their authority.

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Martin60
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# 368

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quote:
Originally posted by Jamat:
quote:
KaplanCorday;
Yes, religious genocide is commanded by God of Israel in the OT (which, as I have said in the past, I freely admit to neither understanding nor supporting), but is not commanded, and in fact is implicitly forbidden, in the NT, which for Christians is the last word.
MrCheesy:
Only because you interpret it like that. You are constantly mistaking your own interpretation for the only-possible-reading. Wrong.

The assumption behind this is that I can take any text and in the name of 'validly interptreting,' I can say it does not say what it says and no one is allowed to tell me I am mistaken.

Kaplan Corday's claim is extremely straightforward and readily verifiable by a child of 10 who can read English.

No such average 10 year old could believe that the universe is 6000 years old.

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Love wins

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Gamaliel
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Besides,Luther may have opposed Indulgences but that didn't stop him being anti-Semitic nor from calling on the state to use violence against the rebellious peasants.

Calvin didn't feel it remiss to hand Servetus over to the civil authorities for trial and execution for heresy in Geneva either ... although I understand his personal role in this wasn't as clear-cut as his detractors claim.

Non-conformists and other non-Anglicans weren't allowed into Oxford University until the mid-1800s.

Paradigms can change, but they change slowly.

What seems obvious to us would not seem obvious to people in times past or in different cultures.

I'd have thought that was obvious.

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Let us with a gladsome mind
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Nick Tamen

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# 15164

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quote:
Originally posted by Crœsos:
Still, if you've got an New Testament exhortation to rulers to put wrongdoers to the sword . . . .

Which, according to at least one American Evangelical pastor with friends in very high places, is justification for using "whatever means necessary," including assasination or war. And of course, war means killing a lot more people than just the wrongdoer.

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The first thing God says to Moses is, "Take off your shoes." We are on holy ground. Hard to believe, but the truest thing I know. — Anne Lamott

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Jamat
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# 11621

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quote:
Originally posted by Martin60:
quote:
Originally posted by Jamat:
quote:
KaplanCorday;
Yes, religious genocide is commanded by God of Israel in the OT (which, as I have said in the past, I freely admit to neither understanding nor supporting), but is not commanded, and in fact is implicitly forbidden, in the NT, which for Christians is the last word.
MrCheesy:
Only because you interpret it like that. You are constantly mistaking your own interpretation for the only-possible-reading. Wrong.

The assumption behind this is that I can take any text and in the name of 'validly interptreting,' I can say it does not say what it says and no one is allowed to tell me I am mistaken.

Kaplan Corday's claim is extremely straightforward and readily verifiable by a child of 10 who can read English.

No such average 10 year old could believe that the universe is 6000 years old.
Martin 60, Please do not post about dead horses here..junior hosting off.

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Jamat ..in utmost longditude, where Heaven
with Earth and ocean meets, the setting sun slowly descended, and with right aspect
Against the eastern gate of Paradise. (Milton Paradise Lost Bk iv)

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Jamat
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# 11621

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quote:
Gamaliel: What seems obvious to us would not seem obvious to people in times past or in different cultures
Why so? They are less aware of their mindsets? They lacked post modern insights? Unlikely. I think God spoke via scripture in past ages.

[ 10. August 2017, 23:23: Message edited by: Jamat ]

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Gamaliel
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Of course. But 'We know in part and we prophesy in part.'

I'm not saying God doesn't speak through scripture. I believe he does and always have. That doesn't mean we always get the right end of the stick, not now, not then.

And as I keep saying, there's always the issue of interpretation and context and all the unavoidable factors that shape and determine our response.

As far as obeying the scriptures and living lives that are fully commensurate with the teachings of Christ. None of us can claim to be doing that adequately, we all fall short.

Hopefully, we don't fall short in ways that involve mass murder or violent suppression of anyone who doesn't agree with us ...

But we are all of us complicit in wider structural and societal wrongs and imbalances as well as our own, personal, besetting sins.

That isn't a call for doom and gloom or a withdrawal from the world, it's an acknowledgement of imperfections, constraints and the need to examine ourselves, exercise continuing repentance and to press on towards the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

We are where we are and we have to work with what we've got. It was the same for believers in every age.

What other way did the Celtic and Anglo-Saxon monks have to spread the Gospel other than to work hand-in-glove with the rulers and warrior chieftains of the day? It's no accident that Lindisfarne is within sight of the royal stronghold of Bamburgh.

How could Luther, Calvin, Cromwell or anyone else have acted in a way that wasn't commensurate with the notes and attitudes of their time, however much they might have challenged things otherwise?

None of these happen in a vacuum.

The scriptures weren't written in a vacuum. They weren't received in a vacuum. They are not understood and interpreted on in a vacuum. There are two sides to the conversation. Well, more sides than that ...

There are the scriptures, God the Holy Spirit, us - and all the accompanying social, cultural and other influences that shape how we think, how we act and how we are.

That doesn't diminish the power and authority of the scriptures. It simply sets out how things are. How things will always be until the Parousia.

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Gamaliel
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Sorry, 'mores' not 'notes'.

This isn't about post-modern insights. This is about people operating within the paradigms they inherited and which have gradually changed over time.

It would not have occurred to someone in the 8th century that church and state should be separated. Hence, they wouldn't have seen church-state separation in the scriptures.

You can only see church-state separation in the scriptures - even implicitly - if you are operating with a mindset that conceives that such a thing is feasible or desirable.

The NT does not directly address the issue of church-state separation, although it certainly provides material and emphases we can use to construct such a belief.

But we can only construct such a belief if the circumstances, cultural conditions and other facilitating factors exist for us to do that.

Those conditions gradually developed over time.

How could it have been otherwise?

Are you suggesting it would have been possible for Charlemagne to have read (or have someone read) some of the passages you've cited - 'My Kingdom is not of this world' - and thought, 'Zut alors! I've got this wrong. I'm going to dismantle my Holy Roman Empire, which is neither Holy, Roman, nor an Empire and become an Anabaptist living in Hutterite simplicity or else a Protestant fundamentalist like Jamat with a huge chip on my shoulder about my Roman Catholic upbringing ...I'll sign up for some correspondence course from some ultra-conservative Bible college in the yet to be discovered United States and interpret the scriptures in a Dispensationalist way that emphases the role of Israel in the End Times ...'

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Kaplan Corday
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quote:
Originally posted by Crœsos:
Still, if you've got an New Testament exhortation to rulers to put wrongdoers to the sword and still maintain that it is wrong to worship non-Christian deities (i.e. it's a form of "wrongdoing"), the implication would seem exactly contrary to what you claim.

Oddly enough, I do have a NT, but there is no way I would have been aware that it contained Romans 13 if you hadn't been kind enough to link it.

Wow, proof-texting gets a lot of bad press these days, but you have demonstrated just how exegetically potent and irrefutable it can be!

Let's see now:

Paul says that rulers bear the sword in order to deal with those who do wrong.

Practising any religion other than Christianity is wrong.

Ergo, Paul is exhorting rulers to kill all heretics and heathen.

Works for me - it's a watertight case.

No doubt you'll get captious carpers who want to argue that Paul is referring to ordinary law and order; that he couldn't be referring to the use of religious violence in support of Christianity when he commends rulers, because no ruler at the time was practising it; and that there is not the remotest hint of condoning governmental pro-Christian religious violence as a means of propagating the faith in the words of Christ, or anyone else in the NT.

One look at your post will silence them.

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Martin60
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So?

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mousethief

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quote:
Originally posted by Kaplan Corday:
One look at your post will silence them.

Who's trying to shut down the opposition on this thread? Let me scroll up.

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God has shown me that I should not call any man impure or unclean. --Acts 10:28

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Gamaliel
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You just don't get it do you Kaplan?

Of course people with a medieval mindset wouldn't see any clear disparity between Paul's comments about the right of rulers to bear the sword and the kind of thing Charlemagne did in Saxony.

Why not?

Because that was the prevailing world-view at that time. If gradually changed. It took many hundreds of years. But it gradually changed.

That doesn't mean that Charlemagne or any other medieval ruler would have executed out of hand any Jew, Muslim or other non-Christian who happened to wander into their domains. As I've said upthread, he'd have probably regarded it in a similar way to how Cromwell regarded the massacres in Ireland, as just retribution for earlier atrocities committed or allegedly committed by his opponents and as a way of deterring further resistance.

It's reprehensible, abhorrent and worthy of all condemnation, but it's how they thought and they'd have understood the scriptures in that way too.

No amount of bleating on your part is going to alter that. We don't interpret the scriptures that way now, but they did so then. There's nothing we can do about that. We can't go back in a time machine and stop them.

I really don't see your problem. In acknowledging the historical context and the difference in world-view between previous centuries and our own we aren't undermining or relativising the scriptures in any way.

All we are doing is making an observation about how these things work. At any one time you are going to have people who live closer to Christ's example and teaching than others. At any one time and indeed during the course of any single day, you or I or any other Christian around are going to further or closer to the 'ideal' as it were than we are at other times - and we are always going to fall short.

Sure, genocide and the expulsion of Muslims and Jews in Reconquista Spain and such like - the Massacre of the Latins in 12th century Constantinople, the Crusader atrocities against Orthodox Christians, Muslims and Jews, the St Bartholomew's Day Massacre, The Thirty Years War and mutual persecutions by RCs and Protestants are all pretty shitty.

No-one is saying otherwise.

All we are saying is, like it or not, Christians are capable of some pretty heavy and unjustifiable shit.

Banging on and on about particular hermeneutical models doesn't alter that.

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Let us with a gladsome mind
Praise the Lord for He is kind.

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mousethief

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quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:
All we are saying is, like it or not, Christians are capable of some pretty heavy and unjustifiable shit.

And they are capable of justifying it (to their own satisfaction) from the Bible.

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God has shown me that I should not call any man impure or unclean. --Acts 10:28

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Kaplan Corday
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quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:
In acknowledging the historical context and the difference in world-view between previous centuries and our own we aren't undermining or relativising the scriptures in any way.

You're not relativising, but that's only because you can't bring yourself to go where your logic inexorably leads.

You admit that Charlemagne and others were mistaken in theory and practice, and that there were historical reasons for that - so far, so good - but you won't take the next unavoidable step and say they were wrong, not just in our terms, but in what they should have realised were their own.

The only way out of your dilemma is historical relativism, ie they were actually right in terms of the then hegemonic ideology, and therefore we can't blame them, but you can't bring yourself to say that because you are frightened of being labelled relativist.

I say it gain, you have painted yourself into a corner.

Sorry to go Godwinian on you, but the obvious illustration is the Holocaust.

There are historical and cultural explanations for anti-Semitism in the first half of the twentieth century, but reasons are not the same as excuses or justifications.

Tout comprendre is not tout pardonner.

It would be obscene to say, "Well Nazi anti-Semitism was deplorable, but we have to remember a whole host of factors such as Christian anti-Semitism dating back to Luther, and the preponderant volkisch exclusivism, and the popularity of "scientific" race and eugenics theories, and German discontent which required a scapegoat after WWI, and the Depression, and the authoritarian strand in German history, etc, etc, so it would be meaningless to judge them by our 2017 standards".

[ 12. August 2017, 06:51: Message edited by: Kaplan Corday ]

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Gamaliel
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Ah, Godwin's Law rears it's ugly head again.

Listen, it's not me who has painted themselves into a corner. You have.

I'm more than happy to acknowledge that Charlemagne and others 'should' have realised that what they did was wrong but in order for them to do so there would have had to been a completely different way of running and organising their societies.

In theory, I'd accept that had people adhered more closely and consistently to the Sermon on The Mount then, by the 8th century, societies would have developed in ways that made Charlemagne style bully-boy tactics obsolete or unfeasible.

Had everyone, rulers included, lived a devoted, Christ-like life doing no harm to man nor beast, then perhaps the culture would have changed to the extent that religious pluralism was tolerated and encouraged and instead of warrior-king 'heroic societies' we'd have ended up with something akin to what, by the 8th century?

Parliamentary democracy?

Some kind of kibbutz?

A Hutterite style communal approach to things?

It's interesting to speculate how things would or could have turned out had Christianity not become the official religion of the Roman Empire but simply a widespread sect but one of many on a pluralist late Roman Empire. Would it have survived the barbarian invasions and the collapse of the Western Empire?

If it had, what form would it take?

In some ways I'd argue that the drive towards monasticism from the mid-3rd century onwards - before Constantine and Theodosius - was in part an attempt to resolve some of these dilemmas. The early monastics, rightly or wrongly, believed it was impossible to reform society at large and so withdrew into the desert.

They sought 'white martyrdom'now that the 'red martyrdom' of persecution was receding.

Essentially, we can see the Church of the first 500 years being shaped by three main factors, persecution, the attempt to achieve and define a consensus and official acceptance and ratification.

The next 500 years saw growth and consolidation but also growing tensions and eventual Schism. The next 500 years saw the fall-out from that ... and on goes.

If Charlemagne had sat down and thought to himself, 'Sacre Bleu, I've got this wrong. There is no NT mandate for me to enforce Christianity on the pagan Saxons ...'

Then what would have been the options open to him at that time?

He could have jacked it all in and become a monk, perhaps.

But how could he have altered his modus operandi in terms of kingly rule when his was the only model available at that time? Heck, the British monarchy only became a 'constitutional' one in the late 17th century. The French and Russian monarchies never did, although both had introduced reforms by the time they were overthrown.

Are you seriously suggesting that Charlemagne could have initiated or completed a process of reforming the way rulers operated that took hundreds of years - and much bloodshed - to work out?

Rather than telling me where my logic inexorably leads think about the whacky logic of your own untenable position.

It is unhistorical, unrealistic and complete moonshine.

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Let us with a gladsome mind
Praise the Lord for He is kind.

http://philthebard.blogspot.com

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