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Source: (consider it) Thread: What should we do about 'our own' terrorists?
Gamaliel
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Don't get me wrong, though. I'm not saying that all hermeneutical approaches are valid but that some are more valid than others - simply that it's completely unreasonable to expect someone like Charlemagne - or St Augustine - to have operated with a post-Reformation / post-Enlightenment hermeneutic because such a thing did not exist at that time.

Hence, it was perfectly valid for Charlemagne to assume that it was ok to wield the sword to enforce his authority because they'd have interpreted the scriptures in a way that encouraged that form of thinking.

We don't interpret the scriptures that way now because we operate according to a different set of principles and presuppositions.

Even if there was one, single over-archingly valid way of interpreting the NT on this particular point then it's hardly relevant to Charlemagne as it wasn't available to him. It wouldn't have become available to him for many centuries.

That's not to say that previous generations didn't have qualms about killing people, judicially or otherwise, of course they did - but it wouldn't have occurred to them to say, 'Hmmmm ... I don't find this in the NT ...' because that's not how they thought, not how they operated.

That doesn't justify it. Charlemagne was still wrong on that count and presumably a lot more besides.

The reason I don't agree with Charlemagne is because I live in the 21st century and am the product of centuries of post-Reformation / post-Enlightenment thought compounded with various forms of Modern and Post-Modern thinking ...

It's not simply because there isn't a verse in the NT that says, 'Oi! Better mind you don't go round executing heretics and unbelievers ...' but rather it's the culmulative effect of the cultural and religious influences I've been exposed to.

It wouldn't even have occurred to Charlemagne to think, 'I wonder whether the NT has anything to say about this ...?'

That's not how he thought. Even if it was there's no guarantee he'd have reached the same conclusion as you or I. He could just as easily have thought, 'Well, I'm a ruler, I can wield the sword to punish wrong-doers like the civil authorities the Apostle Paul alludes to in Romans ... not only that, I am a 'Roman' of sorts as I'm reviving the Roman Empire in the West ... all the more reason to wield the sword and I've got scripture on my side ...'

It doesn't side-step the issue by saying, 'Ah! But he got it wrong ... the Apostle Paul was talking about pagan Roman authorities ...'

That wouldn't have cut any ice with Charlemagne as an argument as he wouldn't have made that kind of distinction. Rulers were rulers, whether pagan or Christian. They had the right to wield the sword. The Saxons were wrong-doers. They were refusing to convert. Therefore he felt justified in killing them.

A shit-arse thing to do but in keeping with his world-view. You can't expect him to have thought like a 17th Anabaptist or a 20th century Plymouth Brother or a 21st century Roman Catholic, Quaker or whatever else ...

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mr cheesy
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I think state violence is an understandable and perfectly valid way to understand Christianity, albeit utterly wrong.

It took a long time for people to break out of a particular worldview that said it was right and to think up other valid theologies to replace it.

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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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mousethief

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There is a(n almost certainly apocryphal) story about Catherine the Great. Somebody was talking to her, and asked how she could, as a Christian, run such a great country as Russia, which necessarily involves some pretty bloody decisions. Her answer was, "I rule Russia. That's my job. God forgives. That's His job." Whether or not we agree with this attitude, it's not a prima facie absurd attitude, as it would be if Kaplan Corday's hermeneutic were as obvious as all that.

quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
quote:
Originally posted by Jamat:
You seem to like assertions of generalised ignorance.

Need to work with the audience I have, not the audience I want.
Nobody seems to have noticed this. It's brilliant.

quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:
So Orthodox Christians will tut-tut about Charlemagne but may resort to special-pleading when it comes to Ivan the Terrible (although I know plenty who think Ivan was a psychopath ...)

I don't personally know any who don't. There's a reason he was called the Terrible. People who think him wonderful are people who idolize an idealized pre-Soviet Russia, and everyone in it. Which is a problem, but a specifically Russian problem, not a specifically Orthodox problem. But when it comes down to it it's a human problem.

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Gamaliel
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Sure. Please don't misunderstand me, I'm not for a moment suggesting that it's a majority view.

I'm simply suggesting that we tend to 'defend' our own side. I remember Ken of very Blessed Memory expressing surprise and bafflement when I pointed out that the Puritans in New England had behaved shittily towards the Native Americans - and indeed towards other types of Christian. He'd assumed that was something the nasty RCs did in South America.

I not singling Ken out, by the way, simply using this as an example.

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lilBuddha
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quote:
Originally posted by Kaplan Corday:
No-one is dismissing the OT as a factor.

Christianity involves interpreting the OT in the light of the NT.

So, for example, "thou shalt not steal" remains valid because it is supported by the NT, and the sacrificial system of the Tabernacle and Temple is rendered obsolete because the NT teaches that it has been fulfilled and superseded by Christ.
It's not rocket surgery.

Nor is it that Christians, real ones by any meaningful definition of the word, use the Bible to bash in ways that Jesus wouldn't.

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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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Crœsos
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quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:
Don't get me wrong, though. I'm not saying that all hermeneutical approaches are valid but that some are more valid than others - simply that it's completely unreasonable to expect someone like Charlemagne - or St Augustine - to have operated with a post-Reformation / post-Enlightenment hermeneutic because such a thing did not exist at that time.

Hence, it was perfectly valid for Charlemagne to assume that it was ok to wield the sword to enforce his authority because they'd have interpreted the scriptures in a way that encouraged that form of thinking.

It doesn't take a lot of sophisticated hermeneutics to interpret New Testament passages like:

quote:
For [a ruler] is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.
It does, however, take a lot of fancy rhetorical footwork to get to the position that Christianity actually teaches that rulers do "bear the sword in vain".

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Humani nil a me alienum puto

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Gamaliel
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Indeed, and there's an added twist in that the passage doesn't say, 'rulers - apart from Christian ones - ' or 'Christian shouldn't be rulers'.

Of course, 'love your enemies, pray for those who despitefully use you,' ought to have come into play but I can't see anything to suggest that Charlemagne was acting contrary to the hermeneutics he had available to him. The hermeneutic Kaplan describes didn't come into existence for another 800 or 900 years or so and even then took a while to develop into the form Kaplan is familiar with.

That's not to say that Kaplan's hermeneutic is wrong, good, bad or indifferent, but it is to say that he can only talk as he does after about 25O years of evangelical riffing on a hermeneutic inherited from the Reformers 250 years prior to that, which in turn riffed on late medieval Scholastic approaches from 25O years or so previously ...

To suggest that anyone prior to 1500 would have recognised Kaplan's approach is anachronistic, although certainly some of the ideas Kaplan draws on were brewing for some considerable time.

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Kaplan Corday
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quote:
Originally posted by Crœsos:
It does, however, take a lot of fancy rhetorical footwork to get to the position that Christianity actually teaches that rulers do "bear the sword in vain".

It takes a mere modicum of conventional exegetical method and knowledge of NT context to get to the position that this passage can justify Christian support for governments' use of violence in lawkeeping and just war, but not for violence targetted at unbelievers to protect or propagate the faith.
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Kaplan Corday
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quote:
Originally posted by mousethief:
There is a(n almost certainly apocryphal) story about Catherine the Great. Somebody was talking to her, and asked how she could, as a Christian, run such a great country as Russia, which necessarily involves some pretty bloody decisions. Her answer was, "I rule Russia. That's my job. God forgives. That's His job." Whether or not we agree with this attitude, it's not a prima facie absurd attitude, as it would be if Kaplan Corday's hermeneutic were as obvious as all that.

If apocryphal, it is probably an adaptation of Heinrich Heine's last words: "Dieu me pardonnera, c'est son metier".

You have actually scored an own-goal with this anecdote, because true or not, it highlights the very real possibility that a Christian ruler (like we lower-profile Christianss, past and present) can be aware of what is self-evidently right, but choose to ignore it.

In an egregious demonstration of lack of historical imagination, Gamaliel and Mr Cheesy appear to have closed their minds to the possibility that other Christian rulers, such as Charlemagne, might have acted similarly.

[ 13. July 2017, 01:18: Message edited by: Kaplan Corday ]

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mousethief

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quote:
Originally posted by Kaplan Corday:
You have actually scored an own-goal with this anecdote, because true or not, it highlights the very real possibility that a Christian ruler (like we lower-profile Christianss, past and present) can be aware of what is self-evidently right, but choose to ignore it.

I don't accept your interpretation. I would say rather that the ruler sees what has to be done, and sadly it is morally bad. Rulers have to make choices that are the moral equivalent of the Trolley Problem over and over and over again. There may be no option available that is not sinful in some way. ("If I kill these people, those people will live. If I let these people live, those people will die.")

It's not a job I'd take for any money. In the anecdote, Great Kate presumably is speaking to this problem.

I don't see this as an "own goal" but a mere flat statement that rulers sometimes must choose to do something immoral to prevent something even worse from happening. That's life as a ruler in a fallen world.

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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:
a charge I'd also level at some of the Plymouth Brethren to be frank for the way they 'spiritualised' the Parable of the Good Samaritan, The Sheep and The Goats and lots of other things besides, but no matter ...

Sorry, but it does matter.

Enough already with the incessant, gratuitous sniping at my Brethren background.

First, I am not currently meeting with the Open Brethren.

Secondly, I have made it abundantly clear for my whole time on the Ship that I reject both the ultra-literalism (YEC, dispensationalism) and ultra-allegorisation (parables, minutiae of the Tabernacle, etc) that used to be common in the Brethren, but you just can't leave it alone.

Yes, of course all typologisation/allegorisation is questionable unless specifically condoned (eg "Christ our Passover"), whether it emanates from the patristic era or the nineteenth century - in fact, I understand that the allegorisation of the Good Samaritan was lifted by the early Brethren from the writings of Augustine.

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mr cheesy
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quote:
Originally posted by Kaplan Corday:
It takes a mere modicum of conventional exegetical method and knowledge of NT context to get to the position that this passage can justify Christian support for governments' use of violence in lawkeeping and just war, but not for violence targetted at unbelievers to protect or propagate the faith.

You have to do a lot better than constantly repeating the same point. This simply isn't a credible argument.

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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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Kaplan Corday
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quote:
Originally posted by mousethief:
rulers sometimes must choose to do something immoral to prevent something even worse from happening.

What was the horse a lesser evil than?
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Kaplan Corday
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quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
You have to do a lot better than constantly repeating the same point.

That's because you haven't adequately answered it.

I'm still waiting for a NT justification of crusading-style violence by Christians that could have been respected in the eighth/ninth centuries and taken seriously today.

Attempts to argue that Charlemagne used pericopes such as Romans 13 (not that chapter divisions existed then) are risibly speculative.

It is far more likely that he and others like him either ignored or deliberately disobeyed the obvious NT teaching on this issue.

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mr cheesy
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quote:
Originally posted by Kaplan Corday:
That's because you haven't adequately answered it.

I have answered it. You just don't like the answer: it is perfectly credible to read the NT in the light of Joshua and believe that state-sanctioned violence is the way to go forwards.

quote:
I'm still waiting for a NT justification of crusading-style violence by Christians that could have been respected in the eighth/ninth centuries and taken seriously today.
Why aren't you listening? Why do you continue to repeat that your understanding is the only possible credible way of understanding the NT when there are many thousands of people and hundreds of years of history showing otherwise.

You're left in the uncomfortable position of having to claim that all this was a mistake because people didn't bother to read the NT. It is far easier to suggest, as I do, that state violence is entirely consistent with a valid reading of the scriptures. And that it took a lot of effort to get beyond that.

quote:
Attempts to argue that Charlemagne used pericopes such as Romans 13 (not that chapter divisions existed then) are risibly speculative.

It is far more likely that he and others like him either ignored or deliberately disobeyed the obvious NT teaching on this issue.

It is only obvious if you have already decided that this is what the NT teaches, that the NT has a special precedence over the other scriptures and other influences (including the OT, standard jurisprudence, the common understanding of war etc). Just as it was fairly obvious that slavery was ordained by God and not decried by the NT until we got around to realising that it was a bad thing.

Your position isn't credible. You're inflating your own interpretation and understanding to be the "plain and obvious" reading of the NT when it is fairly clear that this is nothing of the kind.

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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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Gamaliel
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FWIW I've heard that the horse incident was equally apocryphal ...

But no matter ...

[Razz]

On my 'gratuitous' snipe at the Brethren, I only included them to demonstrate that egregious hermeneutics aren't the sole province of early medieval Catholics.

In the same ways as I cited the Puritans in New England to demonstrate that it wasn't only the RC Conquistadores who went in for religiously motivated violence - or who used religious justifications to condone their violence.

It obviously has escaped your notice that I'm being even-handed by spreading my examples across the board - RC, Protestant and Orthodox.

Again, it might help if you read my comments less selectively and read for comprehension.

Equally, you are still missing the point by a country mile.

The point I'm making is that the particular hermeneutic you are deploying didn't come into existence until after the Reformation and through further reflection/debate and tussling on into the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries until it became what you have now.

It simply wasn't available to Charlemagne. It wasn't available to Augustine. It wasn't available to the Apostle Paul either.

That doesn't mean that we can't see earlier echoes of it nor that people back in those days didn't entertain qualms about executions or violence.

Heck, there were Papal murmurings about slavery centuries before the abolitionist movement started - among Quakers, Unitarians and some evangelicals - in the 1700s ...

There were monastic and clerical voices raised against violence exercised by rulers throughout history - I can think of examples from 16th century South America and also the famous example of the monk who confronted Ivan The Terrible with a bleeding steak when he was in the midst of one of his rampages ...

I'm not for a moment suggesting that everything was uniform one way or t'other ...

You'll know better than me, probably, how there were different hermeneutical schools of thought back in Patristic times - the Alexandrian one more allegorical, the Antiochian one 'plainer' as it were ...

What gradually emerged was some kind of amalgamation of the two - and others besides.

That's how these things work.

It's not a lack of historical imagination on the part of mr cheesy and myself, it's a lack of historical perspective on yours - because you can't seem to envisage that there has never, ever been a single, one-size-fits all interpretative schema that matches your particular model. Even today your model is one among many and not everyone signs up for it.

Of course, given my particular background and culture I'm going to naturally incline more towards your position - with caveats - but that's a feature of those particular factors not because of anything intrinsic or inherent in the text itself somehow floating miraculously above context and conditioning.

It doesn't diminish the status of the scriptures in any way whatsoever if we acknowledge and accept those factors and forces that shape and determine our approach. Why should it?

I know you understand and acknowledge that but I'm sorry, it seems to me, from the way you right - and perhaps I'm not reading for comprehension - that you mightn't.

Just sayin'.

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

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mr cheesy
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I'd go further than that and say that the idea that religious state violence was abhorrent only really became a viable hermeneutic with the anabaptists and quakers and other non-conformists - and I suspect that this was largely educated by the fact of having state violence inflicted upon them.

The idea that maybe one shouldn't have power over someone else and burn, destroy, torture (or whatever) him in the name of religion to a great degree was educated by outside cultural influences and is nothing about a simple or straight reading of the scriptures.

I'd also recall that even England - apparently as influenced by the puritans and Evangelicals to the highest levels - still managed to continue with torture and public execution until the 19 century. It simply didn't really occur to many that these things were incompatible with the state religion as they understood it.

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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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Gamaliel
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Sorry, 'the way you write' - not 'the way you right' ...

There's me not reading my own posts for typos and comprehension ...

[Hot and Hormonal]

Meanwhile, before anyone starts, I'm certainly not saying that there isn't any inherent meaning or indeed 'power' in the scriptures and that any meaning we apply to it comes from other sources. Some may seek to misrepresent my words that way ...

No, as we'd all agree, we have a synergistic and symbiotic relationship with the text - we read it,it reads us ... if I can put it that way - but not in some kind of hermetically sealed bubble.

On another thread Kaplan asserted that the Trinity was a 'given' and that's why Luther didn't see fit to challenge it but instead concentrated on justification by faith and what became the 'Solas' ...

Well, I winced when I read that. Why? Because it elides so much of the actual process that Luther and we ourselves have inherited.

Yes, you can argue the toss for the Trinity from a 'sola scriptura' position - although I'm sceptical about the degree you can do that without the influence of tradition (Big T / small t). The most you can say if you were to take that kind of apparently honed down approach is that the Trinity is consistent with the scriptures - although Arius and others of course argued otherwise and it's dead easy to see how one could come up with a Unitarian position if one applied a rigidly 'sola scriptura' approach ...

It's no accident that forms of Arianism re-emerged after the Reformation across whole swathes of the radical Reformation ...

Anyhow, I don't believe that a wholly 'sola scriptura' approach is even possible - but let's say it is for the sake of argument ...

I certainly don't think a 'SOLO scriptura' approach is tenable and most Reformed and many small r reformed Christians would acknowledge that - even if it involved a fair degree of reflection first.

The only point I'm making is that Kaplan's hermeneutic - which is an accumulated amalgamation of various Protestant strands - wasn't available to anyone pre-1500 - although obviously there were echoes, parallels and some early 'shoots' that fed into its development.

The onus is on Kaplan to prove that it was.

I'd lay odds - were I betting man - that he can't.

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

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Gamaliel
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quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
I'd go further than that and say that the idea that religious state violence was abhorrent only really became a viable hermeneutic with the anabaptists and quakers and other non-conformists - and I suspect that this was largely educated by the fact of having state violence inflicted upon them.

The idea that maybe one shouldn't have power over someone else and burn, destroy, torture (or whatever) him in the name of religion to a great degree was educated by outside cultural influences and is nothing about a simple or straight reading of the scriptures.

I'd also recall that even England - apparently as influenced by the puritans and Evangelicals to the highest levels - still managed to continue with torture and public execution until the 19 century. It simply didn't really occur to many that these things were incompatible with the state religion as they understood it.

Sure, and to be fair, within the Anglican Establishment itself there was a recoiling from the religiously motivated violence that characterised the 17th century. The Latitudinarians - for different reasons - were probably as opposed to restrictions on freedom of conscience - given the constraints of their position within the Establishment - as the non-conformists.

Heck, I've heard that even the Pope thought James II was going too far and being heavy-handed in the way he dealt with dissent - and Dissent ...

Although in other ways, James tried to introduce greater degrees of tolerance in order to alleviate pressure on the RCs.

Although geo-politics comes into all this too, of course, it suited the Pope after 1688 to have a Protestant power on Louis XIV's flank to distract the French from meddling in his affairs ...

OK, that's a bit broad brush, but the point is that these things are messy.

As far as I'm aware, the last time people were condemned / executed on religious grounds was during the reign of James II.

There were 'witches' executed in Scotland as late as the 1730s, I think ... but as far as I know none of the public executions that took place in the 19th century (the last one was in the 1860s) were carried out on religious grounds.

One could argue that the imprisonment of 'conchies' during WW1 or fines or prison sentences meted out to some non-conformists during the 'No Rome on the Rates' controversies of the early 20th century had a religious dimension to them.

But given that Catholic Emancipation was granted in the 1820s and the gradual opening up of Oxbridge to non-Anglicans then the 19th century should be regarded as a period of loosening things up religiously. That's certainly how it was regarded by contemporaries.

But yes, your point stands I think, mr cheesy. The change of attitude derives more from a culmulative reaction to the horrors of the 30 Years War and the English Civil Wars than it does to hermeneutics as such - although there was clearly a relationship between what was going on in society at large and how people approached and interpreted scripture.

Which rather puts the kibbosh on Kaplan's assumptions. No doubt he'll have something to say about that. I hope it's something new this time ...

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Martin60
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quote:
Originally posted by Kaplan Corday:
quote:
Originally posted by Crœsos:
It does, however, take a lot of fancy rhetorical footwork to get to the position that Christianity actually teaches that rulers do "bear the sword in vain".

It takes a mere modicum of conventional exegetical method and knowledge of NT context to get to the position that this passage can justify Christian support for governments' use of violence in lawkeeping and just war, but not for violence targetted at unbelievers to protect or propagate the faith.
It's easy when you have a church-state theocracy. As was the case since Constantine. An attack on Christianity was an attack on the state, on society.

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Love wins

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Gamaliel
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Shhh ... Martin!

Don't say that too loudly or you'll have Steve Langton here again ...

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Jane R
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Gamaliel:
quote:
There were 'witches' executed in Scotland as late as the 1730s, I think ... but as far as I know none of the public executions that took place in the 19th century (the last one was in the 1860s) were carried out on religious grounds.
I'm not convinced that the execution of witches was entirely motivated by religion; yes, there's the thing in the Bible about not suffering a witch to live, but on the other hand every village would have had someone providing traditional herbal remedies for illnesses. The reason why we no longer execute people for witchcraft is that we no longer believe in magic. If it were possible to harm or kill people by magic, why should witches be above the law?

Of course you could argue that a belief in magic is religiously motivated - but if so, it's not an exclusively Christian belief.

[ 13. July 2017, 14:54: Message edited by: Jane R ]

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mousethief

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quote:
Originally posted by Kaplan Corday:
quote:
Originally posted by mousethief:
rulers sometimes must choose to do something immoral to prevent something even worse from happening.

What was the horse a lesser evil than?
1. Completely irrelevant to this conversation, perhaps a sign you realize you're losing the argument?

2. Apocryphal

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Gamaliel
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Generally speaking, I'd say that most religiously motivated violence isn't motivated purely by religion. Of course, religion comes into it but so do other factors.

With someone like Charlemagne it'd have been issues of control as much as anything else.

As for the execution of witches, people were having doubts about the validity of testimonies about that quite early on - certainly there were those who felt very uncomfortable about the trial and execution of the Pendle Witches in 1612.

I've heard that there was quite widespread scepticism by the 1630s but the belief in witchcraft and the need to root it out was given a boost by Puritan zealotry during the Civil Wars - hence 'The Witch-finder General' and all that malarkey.

Certainly by the end of the 1600s there was a general reluctance to engage in Witch-hunts - other than for Popish Plots of course ...

The Salem Witch Trials in the New England of the 1690s were a late manifestation of the phenomenon ... and of course, there were all sorts of undercurrents going on - neighbourly rivalries and so on and so forth that could erupt into witch-hunt fever ...

I used the witch-craft example in a broad-brush kind of way - to refer to violence with a broadly 'spiritual' motivation.

The execution of Servetus in Geneva for his non-Trinitarian views would be an example of an execution on creedal grounds.

The execution of Protestant 'heretics' by Mary Tudor in the 1550s would be an example of people being executed for not believing the 'right things' too.

So would Elizabeth 1's execution of Jesuits and Catholic lay-people - although generally they weren't executed simply because they were Catholics but because - rightly or wrongly - they were seen to be engaged in plots against her. Although being a priest and found operating in England at that time was a capital offence.

Wed can't disaggregate religion and politics when we're looking back at those days. The Civil Wars of the 1640s/50s weren't primarily religious conflicts - although religion played a very strong part in them and was part of the causus belli - but there was inevitably a strong religious dimension.

That's one of the reasons why Kaplan is so anachronistic when he imagines Charlemagne - at an even earlier date of course - would have been capable of disaggregating religion from state-craft and applying a hermeneutic that didn't exist in his time and which only came into fruition many centuries later.

At the risk of a tangent, I remember being handed some artefacts during an open day at a museum. The curator passed me what she described as the oldest man-made object in their collection, a hand-axe that was some 70,000 years old.

It fitted my palm. It felt like something that had been wielded and plied again and again. The next object she gave me to handle was their second oldest man-made object, a bronze axe-head from 5,000 years ago.

Between the first object and the second were 65,000 years of summer and winter, rain and hail, sun and wind. 65,000 years of hunter gathering, the crafting of hand-axes and scrapers. 65,000 years of open fires, howling winds and scrape, scrape, scrape.

Then, gradual technological advance, the rise of animal husbandry, the cultivation of crops. Then smelting and casting and the miracle of bronze.

Expecting one of the earlier hunter-gatherers to imagine the bronze axe would be like expecting Charlemagne to be able to disaggregate his political position from his religious stance. It would not, could not have occurred to him to do so.

Sure, there were the 'my kingdom is not of this world' verses in the NT but how would he have understood those? Very differently to how we do, I suspect.

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mr cheesy
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I think this is basically the problem: for many centuries it was very hard to separate the state from the church, and so an attack on one was an attack on the other.

Which obviously had impacts on how people understood the religion.

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Gamaliel
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quote:
Originally posted by Kaplan Corday:
quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
You have to do a lot better than constantly repeating the same point.

That's because you haven't adequately answered it.

I'm still waiting for a NT justification of crusading-style violence by Christians that could have been respected in the eighth/ninth centuries and taken seriously today.

Attempts to argue that Charlemagne used pericopes such as Romans 13 (not that chapter divisions existed then) are risibly speculative.

It is far more likely that he and others like him either ignored or deliberately disobeyed the obvious NT teaching on this issue.

It might be 'obvious' to you, it clearly wasn't obvious to them.

It's only obvious to you because you are so used to your particular hermeneutic that you assume that everyone else will have been familiar with it throughout history and if they acted otherwise then it must have been either a deliberate flouting of it or ignorance on their part.

When I mentioned the Romans 13 reference I wasn't envisaging Charlemagne with Strong's Concordance in one hand and an open Bible in the other - complete with chaper divisions and verses - poring over the scriptures to find out whether the NT legitimised his execution of those Saxons who refused to convert to Christianity.

That would be to engage in the same kind of anachronistic mind-games as you are.

For a kick-off, of course, Charlemagne would have had clergy to do his theological thinking - such as it was - for him.

For another none of them were operating with the particular hermeneutic you were using. It simply did not exist at that time. It would not exist in the form you are familiar with for another 800 or 900 years at least.

Heck, even the Pilgrim Fathers in New England, who were a lot closer to your favoured hermeneutic than Charlemagne's contemporaries would have been, applied the OT in a theocratic kind of way.

They saw themselves as God's chosen people, the Elect. Therefore, when faced with opposition from the Pequod they found an expedient way to get the tribes-people to withdraw further into the woods was to kill non-combatants as well as braves. They then justified this with proof-texts from the Book of Joshua.

I daresay you'd claim that they really should have known better and it's doubly dishonourable as they were Protestants and should have known better than medieval Catholics ...

That's as may be, but the point is that that's what they did and in their own eyes that would have been a legitimate application of scripture. They were the Elect weren't they? Didn't their attempt to create a thoroughly Christian society in the New World parallel the Conquest of Canaan?

It's reprehensible, but that's how they thought.

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mr cheesy
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OK Gam, we've got it. You seem to have verbal diarrhea this afternoon.

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Gamaliel
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quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
I think this is basically the problem: for many centuries it was very hard to separate the state from the church, and so an attack on one was an attack on the other.

Which obviously had impacts on how people understood the religion.

Of course, and because - largely - we don't think that way any more that impacts on how we understand our religion.

It's our understanding that determines our hermeneutic, not the other way around.

(Waits for the thunder-clap and for the sky to fall in ...)

Kaplan's hermeneutic, like anyone else's, developed over time and in response to discussion, debate and reflection.

It doesn't drop ready-formed out of the pages of the New Testament.

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Gamaliel
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quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
OK Gam, we've got it. You seem to have verbal diarrhea this afternoon.

[Hot and Hormonal]

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Russ
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quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:
I'm certainly not saying that there isn't any inherent meaning or indeed 'power' in the scriptured and that any meaning we apply to it comes from other sources. Some may seek to misrepresent my words that way ...

...The only point I'm making is that Kaplan's hermeneutic - which is an accumulated amalgamation of various Protestant strands - wasn't available to anyone pre-1500

Trying not to misinterpret your words, what does your position imply about the meaning of the word "Christian" ?

I don't doubt that Kaplan is a Christian, and that Charlemagne was a Christian. But if Kaplan's ethic is so different from Charlemagne's ethic, does that not rob the term "Christian ethic" of meaning ?

Is there any limit on what the ethics of 25th-century people who self-identify as Christian might profess ?

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Gamaliel
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I don't see how that follows.

Charlemagne would have subscribed to a broadly Judeo-Christian ethical framework just as the rest of us who belong to Christendom in the cultural sense. That doesn't mean that it's going to be identical to the ethics espoused by Christians in other centuries.

We've already had the instance of slavery cited on this thread. George Whitefield the revivalist had no moral or ethical qualms about slavery whatsoever, or at least thought it was a necessary evil.

John Wesley in the other hand, was vehemently opposed to slavery. Two Christians. Same century. Different viewpoints.

So it's hardly surprising that Christians separated by many centuries are going to differ on these things.

Charlemagne would presumably thought it was murder if someone went out and decapitated a passing Saxon. He would have thought it entirely legitimate for his troops to behead Saxons on his orders. His hermeneutic wouldn't have involved looking into the NT to check for proof-texts for or against ...

Had he done so then he would presumably have found justification enough in what he found as he'd have interpreted it in a way that confirmed to his world-view.

Same as the rest of us, generally of course, over less life and death issues.

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mousethief

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quote:
Originally posted by Russ:
I don't doubt that Kaplan is a Christian, and that Charlemagne was a Christian. But if Kaplan's ethic is so different from Charlemagne's ethic, does that not rob the term "Christian ethic" of meaning ?

"Mousethief's mother" and "Russ's mother" refer to two different people. Does that rob the term "mother" of meaning?

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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:
FWIW I've heard that the horse incident was equally apocryphal ...

No doubt it is, but then according to you, people in the Christian past had no conception of any systematic or principled scheme of interpretation and application of Scripture, and saw no problem with using the OT indiscriminately when it suited them.

So if the story were true, she might well have been justifying her actions by treating Ezekiel 23:20 as an admonition and attempting to apply it.

[ 13. July 2017, 21:13: Message edited by: Kaplan Corday ]

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Gamaliel
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Very droll, Kaplan. But you really don't understand what I'm getting at do you?

Either that or you are misrepresenting what I've actually said.

If that's your hermeneutical approach I'll stick with some others, thank you very much.

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Gamaliel
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What I am saying is that people in the past had various systematic approaches and various ways of approaching the OT - allegorically, Christologically ...

These may not always coincide with yours or mine.

I don't see why that is so contentious. It seems obvious to me. To channel George Dubya Bush for a moment, I'm totally flabbergasticated.

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Jamat
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quote:
Gamaliel: The only point I'm making is that Kaplan's hermeneutic - which is an accumulated amalgamation of various Protestant strands - wasn't available to anyone pre-1500
Which is utterly irrelevant to his point that whatever hermeneutics anyone had, you cannot possibly create any NT case for a violent imposition of Christianity. Consequently, attempts by popes, and Catholic rulers to do this at their behest, have NO possible spiritual justification.

They CANNOT be said in any sense to be Christian actions.

Any attempt to justify said actions by reference to Joshua's war of conquest of Canaan fails since Jesus superseded the OT methodologies with teachings such as ' My kingdom is not of this world.'


Unless someone was totally ignorant of NT teachings like this because they were illiterate, or uneducated then they could not be under any other impression. Ro 13 is a slender thread but not a hermeneutic. Charlemagne could use it to say 'I'm obeying the Pope and he knows the will of God' but this is no argument from scripture. Instead it is a simple justification by chain of command..' I'm obeying orders!'

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Gamaliel
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Someone else who is missing the point.

Have you actually read anything I've posted on this thread?

Read.my.lips.

I am not saying that religiously motivated violence can be justified from the NT - nor the OT for that matter unless you uncouple it from the teachings of Christ or even latter Jewish thought.

What I am saying is that some - whether medieval Pope's or 17th century Puritans - have justified religiously motivated or sanctioned violence by using a different hermeneutic to the one you are using.

Is the Pope a Catholic?

People in the 8th century, the 16th century and even the 18th and 19th centuries thought differently to how we approach these things today. Funny that. I thought you'd have noticed.

That isn't to justify or condone what they did, but it's simply to out it into context.

Hermeneutical approaches develop differently in different contexts. The way the Ethiopian Orthodox approach these things is very different to the way all the other churches do. Why? Because they were in Ethiopia and away from developments elsewhere. Their context shaped and determined their hermeneutic.

Our context has shaped ours.

I really don't see why that's so difficult to grasp.

Things shift and change. The Roman Catholic Church doesn't apply St Augustine's overly allegorical approach to the NT parables any more - neither do the Open Brethren if what Kaplan tells me is true - although they certainly were doing so in the South Wales of the early 1980s.

But the RCC still operates with certain Scholastic and Tridentine influences - just as Reformed Christians still use concepts based on those of the Magisterial Reformers, however much they may have modified or adapted them over time.

Whatever else we might say about Charlemagne, he wouldn't have had access to the hermeneutical framework you guys are using.

Nobody did. It did not exist back then.

Yes, the NT existed of course, but not the theological lens you are using to interpret it in the way you are doing.

That's the point.

You can both huff and puff and bluster as much as you like but it's as simple as that. It did not exist.

That doesn't invalidate it, of course. I'd far rather a hermeneutic that held no truck with religiously motivated violence than on that seeks to justify such violence.

But that's a different issue.

There no point in complaining that Charlemagne didn't understand these things in the way contemporary evangelicals or other types of contemporary Christian do. He was a product of his time, warts and all.

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Gamaliel
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Just as a matter of historical record, did the Pope 'order' Charlemagne to act as he did or did he do so off his own bat?

I rather get the impression that it was Charley who called the shots when it came to his relationship with the Papacy.

Yes, later Popes ordered and sanctioned the Crusades and the persecution of the Cathars.

It's often been said that the Carolingian Empire saw the Papacy develop a step further towards its later medieval form.

Can anyone enlighten me on the history here, without resorting to Chick Tract caricature, Jamat style?

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Jamat
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quote:
Gamaliel: Someone else who is missing the point
This is really about whose point it is then?
I understand your point and have pointed out why it is wrong..hermeneutics of whatever flavour are not the issue.
You do not want to accept this.
I think the only way Charlemagne would be said to be acting Christianly would be if he felt that he was honestly following his conscience in being a tool of the papacy. He was certainly not a theologian or Bible scholar.

[ 13. July 2017, 22:44: Message edited by: Jamat ]

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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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Kaplan Corday
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quote:
Originally posted by Russ:
But if Kaplan's ethic is so different from Charlemagne's ethic, does that not rob the term "Christian ethic" of meaning ?

It is scarcely a matter of "Kaplan's ethic versus Charlemagne's ethic", but of the ethic of the overwhelming majority of present-day Christians (ie all but a few freakish and loony outliers), plus vast swathes of Christians over the last two thousand years, who see and saw clearly that the NT does not sanction the Christian slaughter of unbelievers, versus the ethic of a Charlemagne and those like him.
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Jamat
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quote:
Gamaliel :Can anyone enlighten me on the history here, without resorting to Chick Tract caricature, Jamat style?

quote:
From Wikipedia: He (Charlemagne)continued his father's policy towards the papacy and became its protector, removing the Lombards from power in northern Italy and leading an incursion into Muslim Spain. He campaigned against the Saxons to his east, Christianising them upon penalty of death and leading to events such as the Massacre of Verden. Charlemagne reached the height of his power in 800
I actually always enjoyed Mr Chick. But the remark reflects badly. Ad hominims are the resort of the lost cause usually.
Charlemagne probably did not take orders from the papacy as it was too weak at the time but he propped it up and undoubtedly justified his military actions by recourse to its authority.

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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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Kaplan Corday
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quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
OK Gam, we've got it. You seem to have verbal diarrhea this afternoon.

It's chronic in we Welsh, look you.
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Kaplan Corday
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quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
it is perfectly credible to read the NT in the light of Joshua and believe that state

Bullshit.

Christians in the past were just as aware as we are that you can't just treat the OT as if the NT doesn't exist.

For example, incidents such as Henry VIII's serial monogamy, and the sanction given by Luther, Melanchthon and Bucer to Philip of Hesse's bigamy notwithstanding, Chrisians have never dreamed of arguing that a Christian ruler should accumulate hundreds of wives and concubines because Solomon did so in the OT.

It is ludicrously ahistorical to suggest that Christians believed they could indiscriminately use the OT for whatever they wanted to justify, ignoring the NT in the process.

Charlemagne was either ignorant of the NT when it came to slaughtering pagans (his illiteracy would not have helped), or he chose to deliberately disobey it out of raison d'etat.

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mr cheesy
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quote:
Originally posted by Kaplan Corday:
It's chronic in we Welsh, look you.

Not sure what this is, but if it is some kind of satirical swipe at the way Welsh people speak, it fails. I'll be charitable and assume it is a typo.

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mr cheesy
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quote:
Originally posted by Kaplan Corday:
quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
it is perfectly credible to read the NT in the light of Joshua and believe that state

Bullshit.

Christians in the past were just as aware as we are that you can't just treat the OT as if the NT doesn't exist.

For example, incidents such as Henry VIII's serial monogamy, and the sanction given by Luther, Melanchthon and Bucer to Philip of Hesse's bigamy notwithstanding, Chrisians have never dreamed of arguing that a Christian ruler should accumulate hundreds of wives and concubines because Solomon did so in the OT.

It's not bullshit, and pointing to sexual ethics has nothing to do with how people developed credible hermeneutics about state violence.

quote:
It is ludicrously ahistorical to suggest that Christians believed they could indiscriminately use the OT for whatever they wanted to justify, ignoring the NT in the process.
I absolutely didn't say that and it is tiring that you think I should be defending a position that I don't hold.

There is nothing "indescriminate" about a valid hermeneutic that supports state violence. It doesn't ignore that NT, it just understands it in a different way to you.

quote:
Charlemagne was either ignorant of the NT when it came to slaughtering pagans (his illiteracy would not have helped), or he chose to deliberately disobey it out of raison d'etat.
Or neither. Entirely possible that he just understood it in a different way to you.

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Martin60
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Peacemaking is a mandatory calling for Christians. I foolishly failed in that recently and was able to recover it, just. It was a fascinating, intense, experience of not having to go far to go to hell. Just me and another bloke. Judging an illiterate monkey warrior king of 1250 years ago, in a narrative tradition at least four times, therefore forty times, older in reality, for not measuring up to our theoretical, untested, idealized, unreal, evolved, unattainable, poetic standards is ... risible.

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Love wins

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Golden Key
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Re Charlemagne:

I don't know much about him, let alone his faith, so I looked up "charlemagne king history faith".

--His Faith:

There's Wikipedia, of course. And also an edited translation of Einhard's "Tbe Life Of Charlemagne" (Christian History Institute).

The Wikipedia article touched on his faith in the "Church Reforms" and "Beatification" sections. Gradually, he also was more tolerant of Jews than was usual. (See "Jews In Charlemagne's Realm" section.)

The relevant Einhard excerpt sections are "26. Piety" and "27. Charlemagne And The Roman Church".


--His Literacy:

The thread made mention that he was illiterate. Per the Einhard article, he could read, but not write. Wikipedia is iffy about reading. (He did try to learn to write, late in life, but he just didn't get it. (Dysgraphia, maybe?) He also promoted literacy and the making of books. He was fond of St. Augustine's works.

Einhard, Section 26:

quote:
He took great pains to improve reading and singing there, for he was well skilled in both although he never read in public, or sang except quietly along with the congregation.
Wikipedia, "Education Reforms":

quote:
His great scholarly failure, as Einhard relates, was his inability to write: when in his old age he attempted to learn—practising the formation of letters in his bed during his free time on books and wax tablets he hid under his pillow—"his effort came too late in life and achieved little success", and his ability to read – which Einhard is silent about, and which no contemporary source supports—has also been called into question.[96]
I don't know why the articles differ.

Anyway, this might be helpful for other people who don't know much about Charlemagne.

BTW, there's a great engraving(?) of Charlemagne at the beginning of the Einhard article.

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--"Oh bat bladders, do you have to bring common sense into this?"--Dragon, "Jane & the Dragon"
--"I'm not giving up--and neither should you." --SNL

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wabale
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I am struggling to understand why, precisely, Christians behaved in the way they did in their use of violence in, say, the crusades. Reading Thomas Aquinas on the subject of ‘Law, Morality, and Politics’ is only helping a little. I always struggle a bit with the Medieval period in general, having to my eternal shame written, in an undergraduate essay, ‘King John signed Magna Carta …’, though I can vaguely remember one or two things Professor Southern said in a lecture.

I am interested in the argument, which I don’t think Southern would have liked, that there was, beginning about the 11th Century onwards, a change in the Church’s attitude towards muslims, and various ‘others’. The argument, which some non-historians (or indeed some non-medievalists) might not be familiar with, is that profound changes began in (European) society and later spread to the Church in ‘The High Middle Ages’. These changes included the strengthening of feudal obligations from peasants towards lords, and a tightening of control over everyday life, in response to a general feeling that society was under attack. Phenomena like the crusades and the persecution of heretics arose out of these changing political, social and economic policies and activities, and the arguments advanced to support them.

The Church’s thinking (including no doubt some allusion to the Scriptures) followed.

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Gamaliel
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I enjoyed Mr Chick's tracts too, but in a different kind of way to you, Jamat, I assume.

As something risible.

This whole debate is all about hermeneutics and all about context, something Kaplan and yourself appear not to be able to grasp, alongside your inability to read for comprehension.

Let me spell it out.

I am not saying Charlemagne - or any other ruler - who has deployed religiously motivated violence was right to do so. I am saying that they weren't.

All I am saying is that with a early medieval mindset that might be inclined to see the ruler as ordained and sanctioned by God - as the NT clearly does - then it's a short hop, skip and jump to justifying one's only violence in religious terms.

I hadn't known that Charlemagne enjoyed reading Augustine. If he did then this is commensurate with his world view, because Augustine also sanctioned state-violence.

I expect Augustine wasn't the only one.

I suspect those who didn't do so at that time were a tiny minority - if anyone did at all.

Heck, the Apostle Paul does in Romans 13. Ok, you or I would say that there's a different context to this and that it doesn't explicitly include religiously motivated violence to combat 'wrong-doing'.

But people in the early medieval period wouldn't have made that fine distinction.

In essence, Kaplan's and Jamat's argument boils down to a reductionist, 'Couldn't they read? It's so obvious. They must have either not read it or chosen to ignore it.'

As if their particular hermeneutic is self-evident within the pages of the NT itself.

Well it isn't. If never has been. No hermeneutic is self-evident but the result of a lengthy process of discussion and debate in the context of particular faith communities.

Do all Muslims agree on the 'plain meaning 'What and interpretation of their sacred texts? No, of course not. Same with Jews same with Christians.

The reason I mentioned Chick Tracts is because they are so reductionist.

Catholics - evil.

Fundamentalist Protestants - good guys.

For all his half-digested literary allusions and 1950s grammar school quotes Kaplan's approach is only mildly more nuanced than Jamat's.

He has no more grasp of how hermeneutical schemas develop and how the interpretative process works than Jack Chick had about nuclear fusion.

It boils down to, 'This is how I read it. It's so bleedin' obvious to me that if people take a different view there must be something wrong with them. So there.'

In a word, it's bollocks.

--------------------
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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# 368

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What are we missing that KC & J get? Do we need to take a Black & Decker to our heads until we get it?

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Love wins

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