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Source: (consider it) Thread: Non- Christian Religions " Perverse"?
LutheranChik
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My denominational FB page is regularly trolled by an über-right-wing gadfly who is constantly accusing the ELCA of heresy, apostasy, blah, blah, blah.

Recently, in the midst of all the 500th Anniversary Reformation hoopla, the page featured a statement repudiating Luther's anti- Semitic attitudes and writings and their negative influence in history. True to form, our man -- I'll call him Dick -- piped up to protest that Jews " reject Christ," that Judaism is a "perverse" religion that doesn't deserve an apology, and that once again the ELCA is going astray from the Gospel.

Now, it's easy for some of us, at least, to dismiss " Dick" as some bigoted old coot. But my question is: How pervasive, and explicitly stated from the pulpit these days is the notion that non- Christian faiths aren't just incomplete or misguided, but actually evil...even demonic?

I heard polemics like this in my childhood church almost 50 years ago, but my guess is that these days not even they are quite as militant as "Dick."

So...is this really a thing, or just the rantings of a sad, poorly catechized xenophobe?

[ 28. October 2017, 23:06: Message edited by: LutheranChik ]

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Ian Climacus

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I don't see perverse as meaning demonic; it means obstinate in behaving in an unacceptable or unreasonable way.

Do I think Jews are mistaken? As a Christian I would necessarily believe so. I do not believe they are perverse. I do not believe they are going to hell.

I think your madman is a madman, gripping on to a black and white view of faith.

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Golden Key
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LC--

If I may ask, is there any parallel between his beliefs and, say, those of Lutheran Missouri Synod? And I think there's another that's even more conservative. Wisconsin?

Not meaning any offense. Just wondering whether he's a random crank, or a more conservative Lutheran with an axe to grind.

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LutheranChik
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Golden Key, he says he belings to a "good" ELCA church.

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Golden Key
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LC--

Of which, perhaps, he is the only member?

Someone needs to remind him that Jesus was/is Jewish. (Verb form depends on whether you think he took all of his human nature into heaven with him.)

There's a saying: When the Messiah arrives, Jews will say "Welcome", and Christians will say "Welcome back".

[Smile]

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Arethosemyfeet
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I've heard this sort of rabid foaming at the mouth from the pulpit a few times in the last 5 years (including outright saying that other religions worship Satan), I think each time it's been the same crazy old retired previous minister of the parish. Last time it was a spittle flecked rant about "teh gayz" and threats about Sodom and Gommoragh that had me on the point of heckling.

The focus tends to be Islam these days rather than Judaism. Presumably even most of these nutters have picked up that it's not allowed for them to target Jews.

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Martin60
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Well "Dick's" (perfect, as in don't be a) Christianity is perverse, being a sick synergy of what he brings to the party and textism.

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Love wins

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Karl: Liberal Backslider
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A classic down the line accept Christ or go to Hell theology has this as an inevitable conclusion to be consistent.

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Ricardus
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There does seem to be a fundamentalist fondness for latching on to some negative-sounding word that was common in seventeenth-century pamphlets, and then using it because it sounds Religious, without much thought as to what it meant then or what it means now.

[ 29. October 2017, 08:13: Message edited by: Ricardus ]

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Boogie

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quote:
Originally posted by Ricardus:
There does seem to be a fundamentalist fondness for latching on to some negative-sounding word that was common in seventeenth-century pamphlets, and then using it because it sounds Religious, without much thought as to what it meant then or what it means now.

Yep.

Time machine required to send him back to the 17th century, see if he’s happier there [Roll Eyes]

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LutheranChik
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When reminded that Jesus was Jewish,
" Dick" asserted that Jesus was " Jewish by heritage, but Christian by faith." Which reminded me of a comedy sketch where Jesus exclaimed, " By God!...which is to say myself!"

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Marvin the Martian

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quote:
Originally posted by Arethosemyfeet:
The focus tends to be Islam these days rather than Judaism. Presumably even most of these nutters have picked up that it's not allowed for them to target Jews.

Nah, it's just that muslims have dark skin and jews have white skin, so muslims rank higher on the racist priority list.

I'm convinced that the second we do actually discover intelligent alien life, all of humanity will forget its racial and religious divisions and unite in love and brotherhood against the filthy stinking non-humans. It's just the way we are [Disappointed]

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lilBuddha
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quote:
Originally posted by Marvin the Martian:
quote:
Originally posted by Arethosemyfeet:
The focus tends to be Islam these days rather than Judaism. Presumably even most of these nutters have picked up that it's not allowed for them to target Jews.

Nah, it's just that muslims have dark skin and jews have white skin, so muslims rank higher on the racist priority list.

I'm convinced that the second we do actually discover intelligent alien life, all of humanity will forget its racial and religious divisions and unite in love and brotherhood against the filthy stinking non-humans. It's just the way we are [Disappointed]

There is a Twilight Zone that has a similar plot. And the humans work out their difference to better deal with the aliens.
I'm convinced that if aliens show up, we'll kill each other in the rush to be in control.

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Golden Key
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LC--

quote:
Originally posted by LutheranChik:
When reminded that Jesus was Jewish,
" Dick" asserted that Jesus was " Jewish by heritage, but Christian by faith." Which reminded me of a comedy sketch where Jesus exclaimed, " By God!...which is to say myself!"

...so Jesus had/has a lot of faith in himself? He's self-confident? (Re Christian by faith.)
[Biased]

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Gramps49
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I think I know who you are talking about since I also follow the ELCA FB page. I wonder why the administrators have not blocked him.
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SvitlanaV2
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quote:
Originally posted by Marvin the Martian:
quote:
Originally posted by Arethosemyfeet:
The focus tends to be Islam these days rather than Judaism. Presumably even most of these nutters have picked up that it's not allowed for them to target Jews.

Nah, it's just that muslims have dark skin and jews have white skin, so muslims rank higher on the racist priority list.

Some commentators think that in the long run, conservative Christians and Muslims in the West will made common cause with each other when they realise that secularisation threatens both of them.
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Martin60
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I don't say any threat to Islam in the West. Not in my street five hundred yards from the masjid.

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Martin60
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see ...

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SvitlanaV2
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I think it's more a question of power. Power will remain in the hands of secular politicians, authorities and systems, regardless of how large particular Muslim communities might be.
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Martin60
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Yyeeaaah. I can't see how Deobandi Muslims and conservative Christians can work together communally on up in the UK. There are no Christian communities for a start. To demand more faith schools? What? Drive out betting shops?

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Crœsos
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quote:
Originally posted by SvitlanaV2:
Some commentators think that in the long run, conservative Christians and Muslims in the West will made common cause with each other when they realise that secularisation threatens both of them.

It's interesting that "some commentators" (who?) regard having to live alongside people who don't share their beliefs as a threat. Which may itself be the biggest stumbling block to this theoretical alliance between religiously conservative Christians and religiously conservative Muslims; the underlying premise that non-believers are a "threat" precludes the possibility of an alliance between groups that regard each other as non-believers.

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Karl: Liberal Backslider
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Croesos, you forget that not being able to enforce their religion on others is considered a threat by religious conservatives. They're threatened, for example, by losing the ability to stop gay people marrying.

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Crœsos
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quote:
Originally posted by Karl: Liberal Backslider:
Croesos, you forget that not being able to enforce their religion on others is considered a threat by religious conservatives. They're threatened, for example, by losing the ability to stop gay people marrying.

Not at all. I'm just pointing out that it's very hard to form an alliance based on forcing your religion on others if the key to that plan is allying with a group that doesn't share your religion.

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Karl: Liberal Backslider
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quote:
Originally posted by Crœsos:
quote:
Originally posted by Karl: Liberal Backslider:
Croesos, you forget that not being able to enforce their religion on others is considered a threat by religious conservatives. They're threatened, for example, by losing the ability to stop gay people marrying.

Not at all. I'm just pointing out that it's very hard to form an alliance based on forcing your religion on others if the key to that plan is allying with a group that doesn't share your religion.
Well, the irony (considering the general antipathy) is that they share a great number of the things they might want to enforce. Both conservative Christianity and Islam are heavy on patriarchy and against the gayz for starters

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Gramps49
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quote:
Not at all. I'm just pointing out that it's very hard to form an alliance based on forcing your religion on others if the key to that plan is allying with a group that doesn't share your religion.
Well, this seems to be what the American Fundamentalists are trying to do when they allied themselves with Trump--he does not share their religion!

I just hope when he goes down in flames (there is definitely smoke pouring out of the engines), he does not pull all of American Christianity down with him.

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Barnabas62
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Ah, the attraction of ostracism.

Reminds me of a great line from the emetic 'Aarfy' Aardvark, in "Catch 22". "Fraternity membership was wonderful. We used to ostracise everyone, even each other!"

The real perversity is in the minds of folks whose security is improved if they find someone different to oppose. Really, they ought to be anathema. Oh, wait ....

[ 01. November 2017, 20:04: Message edited by: Barnabas62 ]

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LutheranChik
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Gramps: Pulling down American Christianity [tm] may be exactly what is needed.

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SvitlanaV2
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quote:
Originally posted by Crœsos:
quote:
Originally posted by SvitlanaV2:
Some commentators think that in the long run, conservative Christians and Muslims in the West will made common cause with each other when they realise that secularisation threatens both of them.

It's interesting that "some commentators" (who?) regard having to live alongside people who don't share their beliefs as a threat. Which may itself be the biggest stumbling block to this theoretical alliance between religiously conservative Christians and religiously conservative Muslims; the underlying premise that non-believers are a "threat" precludes the possibility of an alliance between groups that regard each other as non-believers.
The threat doesn't emanate from individuals, and 'secularisation' isn't a person who lives next door! It concerns a societal trend.

Most people, whether religious or non-religious, agree that in Western societies institutional religion is losing both numbers and public influence. This is one definition of secularisation.

One response to ongoing secularisation is ecumenicalism. Since Christian groups that were once antagonistic have overcome their differences to pursue mutually beneficial goals it doesn't seem so shocking to me that people of different religions might do so.

This might happen at the most conservative end - but perhaps also at the more moderate end. However, secularisation is eating away at moderate Christianity relatively quickly, so the impact of interfaith work in that context might not have much hope of further expansion. IME it often involves rather elderly Christians with much younger Muslims, a pairing which must become non-viable in the long run.

In any case, the main commentator I was thinking of with regard to conservative Islam and Christianity is Eric Kaufmann, although I've also come across the idea elsewhere.

[ 02. November 2017, 00:37: Message edited by: SvitlanaV2 ]

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simontoad
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LutheranChk wrote:

quote:
Now, it's easy for some of us, at least, to dismiss " Dick" as some bigoted old coot. But my question is: How pervasive, and explicitly stated from the pulpit these days is the notion that non- Christian faiths aren't just incomplete or misguided, but actually evil...even demonic?
Christians have taught that Judaism is satanic almost since the year dot. Its emblematic of our faith as an institution. I suppose people have fought against this to varying degrees throughout history, but arguably the most successful figure in turning Christianity away from our hatred of Jews and Jewishness is Adolf Hitler.

I was going to expound an idea that postwar liberal Christianity is a soap-bubble in Christian history, but I think that's probably my fear getting the better of me.

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jacobsen

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For 11 glorious minutes we lived in an a Trump-tweet-free world....

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But God, holding a candle, looks for all who wander, all who search. - Shifra Alon
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Karl: Liberal Backslider
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quote:
Originally posted by simontoad:
LutheranChk wrote:

quote:
Now, it's easy for some of us, at least, to dismiss " Dick" as some bigoted old coot. But my question is: How pervasive, and explicitly stated from the pulpit these days is the notion that non- Christian faiths aren't just incomplete or misguided, but actually evil...even demonic?
Christians have taught that Judaism is satanic almost since the year dot. Its emblematic of our faith as an institution. I suppose people have fought against this to varying degrees throughout history, but arguably the most successful figure in turning Christianity away from our hatred of Jews and Jewishness is Adolf Hitler.

I was going to expound an idea that postwar liberal Christianity is a soap-bubble in Christian history, but I think that's probably my fear getting the better of me.

Indeed. My experience inside Evangelicalism is that little has changed with regard to religions outside Judaeo-Christianity; "rejecting Jesus as God and the One True Way" appears to be the charge. Judaism post-Hitler gets a pass because they don't need Jesus because Old Covenant still stands so they don't need to get the Jesus bit right like everyone else does or something. Me? Just points me to Universalism.

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Martin60
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To the OP Christianity is the most and ONLY perverse religion. In what ways can any of the others have gone astray?

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SvitlanaV2
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quote:
Originally posted by Karl: Liberal Backslider:
My experience inside Evangelicalism is that little has changed with regard to religions outside Judaeo-Christianity; "rejecting Jesus as God and the One True Way" appears to be the charge. Judaism post-Hitler gets a pass because they don't need Jesus because Old Covenant still stands so they don't need to get the Jesus bit right like everyone else does or something. Me? Just points me to Universalism.

If evangelicalism becomes universalist can it still be evangelical? Will the Bebbington quadrilateral still apply?

I suspect a grey zone can be can be maintained up to a certain point, because all religious tendencies exist on a spectrum. A devout and personable Muslim who emphasises his love and respect for Jesus might presumably be received as a brother by a certain kind of evangelical (or indeed, a RC). For example, the unorthodox American Muslim Louis Farrakhan has preached at a number of African American churches, and they're probably not the most liberal of America's congregations.

Of course, it helps that Farrakhan and the churches he goes to share other cultural and social similarities and concerns. I can't see white middle class evangelicals and brown urban Muslims joining forces for any significant reason if they have nothing socially and culturally in common.

But ultimately, if universalism replaces evangelism wholesale then Western Christianity will have done its work and can settle down to die. It's already heading that way. I don't think this drawn-out death of Christianity is particularly impressive to Muslims, though.

[ 03. November 2017, 10:40: Message edited by: SvitlanaV2 ]

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Martin60
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Hmmm. The RC&OCs are pretty universalist aren't they? For all their 'distinctives', some take the long arc, post mortem view with Purgatory and apocatastasis, so there's plenty of room for some not of their faiths to be purgated in the intermediate state in Hades. Same for the Jews. There's not a fag paper between them really. Of the Reformed, low evangelicals seem to be Islamic about it.

These are all theistic, textist beliefs of course and will always exist, like the otherwise poor. The God of infinite, eternal creation is not limited by such primitive, inchoate words.

Incarnation saves.

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Love wins

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SvitlanaV2
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I don't know much about the RC view on purgatory; but I know the Church has devoted vast amounts of money and manpower to evangelism over the centuries. I should think they've done that for a reason.

As for the Reformed (or Calvinistic) denominations, AFAIUI, several of their theological distinctives and their stress on evangelism have waned over time.

American Puritanism famously lost its fervour, and many of the originally Puritan movements and their offshoots are now among the most liberal in the USA. In the UK, the offspring of the Reformed Congregationalists and Presbyterians are hardly vicious enemies of Islam. As for the CofE, it's ultimately pluralistic, harbouring conservatives, moderates and liberals alike. Attitudes towards Islam are likely to be all over the shop. I know of a retired vicar who likes to pray in a mosque.

Reformed/Calvinist thought and Arminianism have consequences regarding evangelism and conversion, but in modern Britain it's unclear how these theologies, which are hardly taught or emphasised in most church life today, continue to influence general attitudes towards other religions.

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Martin60
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Islam and conservative Protestantism are damnationist to a man, that's what I meant. The other theists allow for purgating/purification of some, but the former, it's damnation all the way by God the merciful.

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Russ
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I think "perverse" is being used in the sense of someone who continues to believe in something after it has been debunked.

So for example, to a certain sort of atheist, Christianity is something that has already been comprehensively shown to be "nothing but" a tool of social control, a delusion, a projection of our Freudian need for paternal reconciliation, pre-scientific thinking, whatever, and therefore for anyone to continue practicing as a Christian is perverse.

And it strikes me that part of the modern internet echo-chamber syndrome is that more and more people are becoming more and more convinced that opposing ideas have been debunked, and that their circle of contacts are therefore acting entirely reasonably in treating those who disagree as perverse.

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

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SvitlanaV2
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# 16967

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quote:
Originally posted by Martin60:
Islam and conservative Protestantism are damnationist to a man, that's what I meant.

Out of interest, do your damnationist acquaintances make much effort to convert the local Muslims and Hindus, etc., to Christianity? If they live in the heart of a large city they surely have their work cut out for them. But I don't get the impression that a great deal of work is going into converting Muslims. It's a lot of effort, even for the most ardent of damnationist British Christians.

I supspect that conservative Muslims and Christians who actually engage with each other theologically, as used to happen at Speaker's Corner, AIUI, can find that their respective conservatism is at least a point of mutual understanding.

A strict Muslim and a liberal Christian are likely to have much more difficulty understanding each other, and some commentators warn that Christians who bend over backwards to concede to Muslims on everything rarely win the respect of those Muslims. Or more simply, their ill-informed attempts to be obliging may simply create more confusion.

But I fear that a lack of mutual understanding is endemic among Christians and Muslims, not least because British society is growing more segregated, not less.

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Martin60
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# 368

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As a strict liberal I have no problem understanding Islam and getting on with my excellent Muslim neighbours. And yeah, I haven't noticed damnationist evangelical textists daring to try to save damnationist Muslim ones, who DO have the courage, but not any other means.
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SvitlanaV2
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I'm sure you get on with your neighbours excellently!
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Martin60
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It's easy to, I have had robed Deobandi ring the doorbell and invite me to the Masjid. Superb people. My boss and another colleague used to worry about my eternal fate as I took such an interest in Islam but wouldn't convert. They are easy to respect. Is that bending over backwards? What am I in danger of conceding by being polite?

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Love wins

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SvitlanaV2
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But that's a perfect example of what politeness should be: trying to understand people rather than making assumptions about what they'll find appropriate. You've made a careful study of Islam, the better to understand your neighbours. Many Christians who want to be obliging don't make that degree of effort. It could be argued that they do a disservice to both Islam and Christianity.
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cliffdweller
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quote:
Originally posted by SvitlanaV2:
quote:
Originally posted by Karl: Liberal Backslider:
My experience inside Evangelicalism is that little has changed with regard to religions outside Judaeo-Christianity; "rejecting Jesus as God and the One True Way" appears to be the charge. Judaism post-Hitler gets a pass because they don't need Jesus because Old Covenant still stands so they don't need to get the Jesus bit right like everyone else does or something. Me? Just points me to Universalism.

If evangelicalism becomes universalist can it still be evangelical? Will the Bebbington quadrilateral still apply?.
fwiw, I teach the Bebbington quadrilateral at my evangelical college. I find nothing in it that is inconsistent with universalism. The closest we can come is "decisionism"-- but I would argue that there are other reasons to "decide"-- other reasons to follow Christ-- than just escaping the flames of eternal fire.

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"Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don't be afraid." -Frederick Buechner

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SvitlanaV2
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I'm thinking in particular of conversionism. It seems obvious on a very basic level that if you believe that (more or less) everyone will have a lovely time in the hereafter regardless of their religious allegiance then your focus on making converts is likely to be reduced.

This doesn't mean that no evangelism is going to take place, or that there aren't other good reasons for seeking conversions. But I feel that very few churches have clearly enunciated those other good reasons for evangelism. In the British context, ISTM that where there's an impetus for (non-evangelical) evangelism, it springs out of the reality of steep church decline and the fear of institutional collapse rather than some kind of sophisticated, non-damnationist re-assessment of the value of conversion.

Perhaps evangelical churches discuss the changing theological environment more openly than others since conversionism is so important to them in the first place. And perhaps their passionate discussions help them to re-frame their evangelism. Nevertheless, I think there are many commentators who see a 'creeping' universalism as one of the reasons why many evangelicals are doing less evangelism overall - and hence becoming a little less evangelical.

[ 05. November 2017, 01:45: Message edited by: SvitlanaV2 ]

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Arethosemyfeet
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I don't think it requires a huge amount of sophistication to say that truth is valuable in itself, and that God can and will change people for the better here and now if allowed to. Frankly, though, most con evos don't seem to act as if they think eternal conscious suffering is a potential outcome of non-belief (apart from the really disturbing ones who seem to relish the idea).
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SvitlanaV2
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Well, maybe it doesn't require great sophistication, but it does at least require some explanation and internalisation - and action. The decline of organised Christianity in much of Europe suggests that this blend is missing in very many cases.

[ 05. November 2017, 13:34: Message edited by: SvitlanaV2 ]

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Martin60
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# 368

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Hmmmm, SvitlanaV2. It's far easier to keep the golden rule with those who are more 'other'. I despair of Christians, myself included. I'm intrigued at the ignorant obliging ones. What do they do?

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Arethosemyfeet
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quote:
Originally posted by SvitlanaV2:
Well, maybe it doesn't require great sophistication, but it does at least require some explanation and internalisation - and action. The decline of organised Christianity in much of Europe suggests that this blend is missing in very many cases.

That doesn't follow. You're making the assumption that the decline of organised Christianity (presumably measured by changes to identity) is down to a lack of evangelism. I think it's down to social changes that have led to a decline in respect for authority, along with the churches having been shown to have feet of clay (particularly when it comes to child abuse) and the broader decline in membership of all organisations. This may be linked to the rise of broadcast media providing entertainment in the home.
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Golden Key
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quote:
Originally posted by Arethosemyfeet:
quote:
Originally posted by SvitlanaV2:
Well, maybe it doesn't require great sophistication, but it does at least require some explanation and internalisation - and action. The decline of organised Christianity in much of Europe suggests that this blend is missing in very many cases.

That doesn't follow. You're making the assumption that the decline of organised Christianity (presumably measured by changes to identity) is down to a lack of evangelism. I think it's down to social changes that have led to a decline in respect for authority, along with the churches having been shown to have feet of clay (particularly when it comes to child abuse) and the broader decline in membership of all organisations. This may be linked to the rise of broadcast media providing entertainment in the home.
I agree with the gist of what Arethosemyfeet said. Plus some churches--just like many other groups--just aren't welcoming. They only want to talk to themselves, even at coffee hour and volunteer days.

Why should anyone be interested in church or Christianity, given all the above and lots more?

I could see someone becoming Christian or joining a church if they felt drawn to it, on a "there's Something there" basis.

But...think about it...if you heard about a group that claimed to have the answers to Life and had done some really good things; but also had all the problems above, was rotten to the core with some of them...would you get anywhere near them? Would you feel immoral if you did?

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Blessed Gator, pray for us!
--"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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SvitlanaV2
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quote:
Originally posted by Arethosemyfeet:
quote:
Originally posted by SvitlanaV2:
Well, maybe it doesn't require great sophistication, but it does at least require some explanation and internalisation - and action. The decline of organised Christianity in much of Europe suggests that this blend is missing in very many cases.

That doesn't follow. You're making the assumption that the decline of organised Christianity (presumably measured by changes to identity) is down to a lack of evangelism. I think it's down to social changes that have led to a decline in respect for authority, along with the churches having been shown to have feet of clay (particularly when it comes to child abuse) and the broader decline in membership of all organisations. This may be linked to the rise of broadcast media providing entertainment in the home.
The scholarship I've come across claims that church decline (in the British case) set in long before the particular social changes that you mention here. The latter sped up a process that was already taking place.

IOW, changes in the religious environment (of which changing attitudes towards evangelism are said to be a part) preceded changes in the wider social environment.*

This does make sense to me, I have to say. But I can see how it might seem unlikely to you if you live in an area where church life has exhibited few signs of decay until relatively recently. Also, some denominations experienced these changes sooner or more severely than others.


(References are available.)*

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