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Source: (consider it) Thread: Spectrum of conevo to radical
Tortuf
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Fascinating thread.

I started out as a child as a Methodist; a church that can be described as a mainstream - potentially liberal - church in the US. Over the years my experience within the Methodist church has shown me members who range from very liberal to very creationist, literal construction (they think), and exclusionist. (Thanks for the new term.)

But then, variations within denominations seem to be fairly common. A ECUSA friend of mine once told me a joke which feels true:

What separates the conservatives from the liberals? The altar rail.

My experience went from this is what to believe (without having any clear idea what "what" was) to wildly liberal, to doubter, to tortured with guilt every time I went into a church. Interesting ride. Not a fun ride.

The thing is I realized that my expectations about what and how God should be created my unbelief. YMMV. When my prayers for specific things went unanswered I thought that to be evidence there was not a God.

I forgot to ask the question "Why should God give me exactly what I want?" I know what my answer would have been: "I am a good person praying for good things and so of course God will answer my prayer and give me the right thing (what I want.)"

Great expectation as long as I am omnipotent, all knowing, all understanding, and the center of the Universe, among other things. Silly expectation (YMMV) as long as I am not any of those things.

Then I was told to pray to God to see myself - even a little - as God saw me. I did not think it would work and decided to try anyway as my self direction had not landed me on top of the heap. Eventually, the prayer was answered.

That was a life changing event. Since that time a lot of work has gone into me and a great deal of that work centers around spirituality. Now, I believe in God without trying to define God in any way. I do not feel the need to "get it right" or have anyone else get it right.

So, I wish you all the very best in your journeys and I pray that you find peace. Beyond that it is none of my business.

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Mark Wuntoo
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And to PROVE my point ...

I was surprised to find on my bookshelf one of the standard reference books from Bible College, Louis Berkoff's Systematic Theology (written, I think, in 1939, so not that old).

He affirms, as his first objection to the theory of evolution,

'... the greatest objection to this theory is, of course, that it is contrary to the explicit teachings of the Word of God. The Bible could hardly teach more clearly than it does that man is the product of a direct and special creative act of God, rather than of a process of development out of the simian stock of animals.'

I think Shipmates will guess his second objection .... it is only a theory, 'an unproved working hypothesis'.

There's lots more but you all know all that, I think.

I only mention this as a way of showing the pressure that GLE's were under in the 1950's and 60's if not later. Our pastors taught it and our Bible Colleges taught it. We didn't stand a chance - until, in my case, I found myself in an alien situation where I had to think for myself as I rubbed shoulders with Christians who had very different views to mine.

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mr cheesy
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Ah I have Berkoff in storage somewhere. Banner of Truth publishing, right?

I quite like it. I don't agree with his conclusions, but I like how he sets fairly clearly the options eg theories of the atonement.

That said, I've not looked at it for years.

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arse

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chris stiles
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quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
Ah I have Berkoff in storage somewhere. Banner of Truth publishing, right?

Was it one of their 'edited' versions?

But again - that kind of jibes with my feeling that there was a heavy American influence in pushing things down this route. ISTM there were conevos from the same era who took a somewhat different view - they just tended to be elsewhere. Lyman Stewart has a lot to answer for.

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mr cheesy
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quote:
Originally posted by chris stiles:
Was it one of their 'edited' versions?

No idea, I don't remember seeing or hearing anyone talking about it outside of the circles where I was given it.

It doesn't read like an edited version as far as I remember, although the copy I have is a single volume (so calling it Systematic Theology is a bit of an exaggeration.

quote:


But again - that kind of jibes with my feeling that there was a heavy American influence in pushing things down this route. ISTM there were conevos from the same era who took a somewhat different view - they just tended to be elsewhere. Lyman Stewart has a lot to answer for.

I can't even tell how much influence Berkoff has in this subculture - however it appears to be part of the standard library of theological textbooks for a particular kind of conservative Evangelical.

My perception is that British Evangelicals who have gone deep into the weeds on this stuff are few and far between.

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arse

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Mark Wuntoo
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quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
Ah I have Berkoff in storage somewhere. Banner of Truth publishing, right?

I quite like it. I don't agree with his conclusions, but I like how he sets fairly clearly the options eg theories of the atonement.

That said, I've not looked at it for years.

Banner of Truth, yep. (They published some really awful stuff IMO but we did use them).

Another key reference for us was A H Strong's Systematic Theology (1907) which I also see on my shelf. I recall that either Berkoff or Strong was a little suspect but I can't recall which one.

Those were the days - and generally happy ones, I think.

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mr cheesy
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According to Wikipedia it is Berkof not Berkoff.

And apparently he was deeply into the Reformed/Calvinist end of Evangelicalism, which reflects what I remember of his theological conclusions and where I was given the book.

[ 06. February 2018, 14:56: Message edited by: mr cheesy ]

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arse

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chris stiles
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quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:

It doesn't read like an edited version as far as I remember, although the copy I have is a single volume (so calling it Systematic Theology is a bit of an exaggeration.

I just ask as they have past form on this - aka edited JC Ryle to remove his Amyraldianism

quote:

My perception is that British Evangelicals who have gone deep into the weeds on this stuff are few and far between.

In what sense? From where I'm sitting there are plenty of YEC folk in convevo circles, and even if other views are accepted within a church, you'll probably be given a harder time by subgroups within that church.
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lilBuddha
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quote:
Originally posted by Mark Wuntoo:
it's faith v intellect.

I think this is a false dichotomy and holding to it hurts faith more than it protects it.
If it cannot be questioned, it isn't truly faith anyway.

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mr cheesy
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quote:
Originally posted by chris stiles:
I just ask as they have past form on this - aka edited JC Ryle to remove his Amyraldianism

Ah, I was just trying to remember JC Ryle, he is also a figure I remember from the library of books in this subculture.

I didn't get on too well with Ryle but I can't remember why not now.

quote:
In what sense? From where I'm sitting there are plenty of YEC folk in convevo circles,
I'll have to bow to your knowledge on YEC as it is a very long time since I had any connection to it.

But I don't think the group we are talking about here is only defined by YEC theology - it seems to be part of it, but you also have to be into very Reformed and Calvinist theology and read these specific authorities. I don't know how many people that really includes.

quote:
and even if other views are accepted within a church, you'll probably be given a harder time by subgroups within that church.
I think the Calvinism is more important than the creationism. But again, I could be wrong.

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arse

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Mark Wuntoo
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quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
quote:
Originally posted by Mark Wuntoo:
it's faith v intellect.

I think this is a false dichotomy and holding to it hurts faith more than it protects it.
If it cannot be questioned, it isn't truly faith anyway.

Just to say, I did say that this is my experience. It was when I was forced by circumstances to ask questions (intellect) that I started the road away from faith. I have no wish to defend 'faith' these days but no wish to hurt it in others.

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chris stiles
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quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:

But I don't think the group we are talking about here is only defined by YEC theology - it seems to be part of it, but you also have to be into very Reformed and Calvinist theology and read these specific authorities. I don't know how many people that really includes.

Yeah, I suspect we are talking about disjoint sets of people - as I don't really move in such circles either and haven't for some time. From observing friends who are still in such circles it would appear that things have gone slightly more YEC - though that might be a selection effect that is connected with those I know.

On the conevo thing, my other impression is that such folk have over time also got a lot more economically conservative (which again I would attribute to US influence).

Going back to Berkhof; I suspect Grudem especially has an outsize knock-on influence these days.

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Kaplan Corday
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Even Banner of Truth draws the line somewhere.

When they published Arthur Pink's The Sovereignty of God they omitted his assertion that God bears no love whatsoever to the reprobate, and his theory that kosmos in John 3:16 refers to the sum total of the elect.

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Kaplan Corday
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quote:
Originally posted by Mark Wuntoo:
Yeah, well. You're not a true evangelical if you don't believe in 6-day creationism, [Devil] you are a liberal [Mad] and if you once believed it but now don't you are a backslider. [Ultra confused]
Aren't these terms wonderful. [Snigger]

Yes, yes, all good healthy fun which is no doubt of therapeutic value to those trying to exorcise embarrassing memories of a fundamentalist phase in their experience.

The fact remains, however, that while there no doubt exist some evangelical churches at the fundamentalist end of the spectrum which insist on an exclusively YEC position, there are innumerable evangelicals who don't.

There are also, no doubt, plenty of non-evangelical (ie RC and Orthodox believers) who happily take the opening chapters of Genesis literally.

In all the evangelical churches to which I have belonged, there has been peaceful co-existence between the literalists and non-literalists.

Even back at the time of the publication of Darwin's Origin there were conservative, orthodox Protestants (and RCs) who were quite unfazed, and happy to incorporate the new discoveries into their theology.

The Fundamentals (1910-15) contained critical references to evolution, but the final distillation of the so-called fundamentals on which the militant orthodox took their stand did not include a stance on YEC or evolution (they were the authority of scripture, and the virgin birth, miracles, atoning death and resurrection of Jesus).

In other words, YEC has never been a sine qua non of evangelicalism.

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Gramps49
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Kaplan--first of all when I speak of Evangelicals being creationists, I am really talking about American Evangelicals--yes I know of some who were able to talk about an old earth. My uncle was one. He was the chair of Geology at the University of Arizona, but they seem to be the exception to the rule in the United States.

You mention that you think there is a sizable group of Roman Catholics or Orthodox that are creationists. Not saying that there aren't, but I can say it is no longer official doctrine in the Roman Church, and from what I can find on Orthodox web pages it is not official doctrine among them as well.

Mark Wuntoo, I wanted to get back to your reply to me also. One of the major differences between my path and your path, as I see it, is your experience of guilt. I can understand if you came from a Calvinist background how that can be a heavy burden. My mother grew up in such a background and she also suffered from guilt too. She just knew she was not among the saved because of her life as a young woman (to hear her tell it makes my ears burn sometimes). Then she met my dad who was Lutheran and she began to hear salvation by faith through Jesus Christ, and it is not of our own doing.

I never felt guilt growing up. My mother would not let me experience that. She always taught me I was free through Christ.

I am thinking if I were placed on a guilt trip like you alluded too, it just might have pushed me over the edge too. (As I said, I love dancing on the edge).

You mentioned that you have two Christian systematic books on your self, one from 1907 and the other from 1939. You thought the 1939 one was not that old. Huh? It is nearly 80 years old! It probably should have been tossed back in the 50's.

I am more of an exegetical theologian than a systematician but I can tell you there has been an explosion of new thoughts since the 50's. One theologian I have read quite a bit of is Hans Kung. He is one of the more prolific contemporary theologians I can think of. Look him up, You will likely find a number of his books that address some of the doubts you went through. I am not trying to convert you, but just trying to show theology did not stop in the 30's. I just picked up The Entangled Trinity: Quantum Physics and Theology. The cover of the book says Ernest Simmons asks what the current scientific understanding of the natural world might contribute to our reflection upon the relationship of God and the world in a Triune fashion. Sounds like an interesting book

My point is that theology did not stop 500 years ago (The Reformation) It did not stop 80 years ago. It did not even stop 10 years ago. There are new theologians bringing forth new ideas and new answers to old and current problems.

Mark, I do thank you for being forthcoming about where you are at. I hope you will hang around for a while. It is always good to get new people with new thoughts and challenges

Gramps

[ 07. February 2018, 03:16: Message edited by: Gramps49 ]

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Mark Wuntoo
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quote:
Originally posted by Gramps49:
(snip)
Mark Wuntoo, ..... You mentioned that you have two Christian systematic books on your self, one from 1907 and the other from 1939. You thought the 1939 one was not that old. Huh? It is nearly 80 years old! It probably should have been tossed back in the 50's.

Comparatively recent, I suggest.

quote:
My point is that theology did not stop 500 years ago (The Reformation) It did not stop 80 years ago. It did not even stop 10 years ago. There are new theologians bringing forth new ideas and new answers to old and current problems.

Mark, I do thank you for being forthcoming about where you are at. I hope you will hang around for a while. It is always good to get new people with new thoughts and challenges

Gramps

I hope that I was able to keep up with some of the explosion of thought in recent years. It was the re-thinking (deconstruction?) of my beliefs that kept me moving along the spectrum. And I am thankful about that and sad that my old GLE friends have not travelled.

As an aside, it is only a matter of months ago that I was chatting to a young(ish) Muslim neighbour and was surprised to learn that he does not believe in evolution - and he is an intelligent and articulate leading member of the local mosque.

And, Gramps, I don't intend leaving. I don't post very often but I've been around for a few years. [Biased]

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Kaplan Corday
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quote:
Originally posted by Gramps49:
Kaplan--first of all when I speak of Evangelicals being creationists, I am really talking about American Evangelicals--yes I know of some who were able to talk about an old earth. My uncle was one. He was the chair of Geology at the University of Arizona, but they seem to be the exception to the rule in the United States.

The best estimate I can find online, from 2014, is that about 15% of Americans believe in YEC.

About 25% of Americans are evangelicals, so even if all the YECers are evangelicals, that is still only 60% of American evangelicals who are YEC.

Judging from my experience, the proportion of YEC evangelicals would be far smaller in other parts of the world such as the UK, Australia and New Zealand.

quote:
You mention that you think there is a sizable group of Roman Catholics or Orthodox that are creationists. Not saying that there aren't, but I can say it is no longer official doctrine in the Roman Church, and from what I can find on Orthodox web pages it is not official doctrine among them as well.
I don't know whether there is an "official" position on this issue in either of these traditions.

I was just surmising that a fair proportion of grassroots believers from each tradition in different parts of the world might be inclined to take the opening chapters of Genesis literally.

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lilBuddha
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That is probable, but a higher percentage will be in denoms that travel a more literal path. As far as the polls, people lie. Especially if they might feel some sort of pressure, even if it isn’t real.
And it isn’t YEC or reality. There are plenty who accept the reality of a billions of years time-frame, but hold other bits of the Bible as literal. And, IME, evangelicals will have a higher percentage representation in this category than many others.

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chris stiles
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quote:
Originally posted by Kaplan Corday:

Judging from my experience, the proportion of YEC evangelicals would be far smaller in other parts of the world such as the UK, Australia and New Zealand.

The only figures I can find for the UK are here:

http://www.eauk.org/culture/statistics/statistics-on-views-on-science-and-evolution.cfm

[Second set of results]. Though agreeing that these things are 'incompatible' is different from subscribing to the belief in YEC (or ID) - though by definition they already hold to Christianity.

The EA survey was of EA members - and BME evangelical churches/denoms tend to be unrepresented and they tend to be much more conservative as a whole.

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Dave W.
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quote:
Originally posted by Kaplan Corday:
quote:
Originally posted by Gramps49:
Kaplan--first of all when I speak of Evangelicals being creationists, I am really talking about American Evangelicals--yes I know of some who were able to talk about an old earth. My uncle was one. He was the chair of Geology at the University of Arizona, but they seem to be the exception to the rule in the United States.

The best estimate I can find online, from 2014, is that about 15% of Americans believe in YEC.
That's surprisingly low - where's it from?

Last year Gallup got 38% who said that "God created humans in present form within last 10,000 years", vs 38% for "Humans evolved, God guided process" and 19% for "Humans evolved, God had no part in process". (Respondents were asked which of these three statements came closest to their views.)

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Karl: Liberal Backslider
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quote:
Originally posted by Dave W.:
quote:
Originally posted by Kaplan Corday:
quote:
Originally posted by Gramps49:
Kaplan--first of all when I speak of Evangelicals being creationists, I am really talking about American Evangelicals--yes I know of some who were able to talk about an old earth. My uncle was one. He was the chair of Geology at the University of Arizona, but they seem to be the exception to the rule in the United States.

The best estimate I can find online, from 2014, is that about 15% of Americans believe in YEC.
That's surprisingly low - where's it from?

Last year Gallup got 38% who said that "God created humans in present form within last 10,000 years", vs 38% for "Humans evolved, God guided process" and 19% for "Humans evolved, God had no part in process". (Respondents were asked which of these three statements came closest to their views.)

There are various Slate articles about it. It depends what degree of confidence you want to call someone a YEC. It also depends how you interpret the question - "God created humans in present form within the last 10,000 years" doesn't logically have to imply YEC. You could be an OEC or even a TE who nevertheless thought humans were a special creation of God within that time frame.

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Might as well ask the bloody cat.

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Dave W.
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That's true, but I also found a reference to a 2008 Harris survey on "Americans' Beliefs and Knowledge about Creationism, the Role of God, 'Intelligent Design', and Human Evolution" in which 39% of respondents agreed that "God created the universe, the earth, the sun, moon, stars, plants, animals, and the first two people within the past 10 000 years" which sounds like YEC to me.

(N.B. In the same survey only 19% said that the statement "The earth is less than 10 000 years old." is true, so I'm not really sure what it means to say people "think" or "believe" something based on answers to questions like these.)

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Gee D
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I think it confirms that YEC people are as stupid as you would have expected. Maybe 10,000 years is not young though, you have to accept Abp Ussher's calculation of 4004 BC to fall into that category......

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Gamaliel
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I think Kaplan's observations about evangelicalism broadly hold, and whilst it would be difficult to prove, I'd suggest that the percentage of YEC-cies overall would lie somewhere between the lowest figure cited and the higher ones postulated.

I'd also suggest that hard-line YEC-ers, like very hard-line Calvinists, make a great deal more noise in relation to their numbers than some other forms of evangelical, and consequently appear more numerous than they actually are.

I also agree that literalists and non-literalists on these issues can co-exist within the same congregations and I suspect that holds true for all but the real hard-line groups.

As for RCs and Orthodox who would take a literal view of Genesis, they do exist but it is a lot less common among them than it would be, I suspect, in evangelical circles.

It can be difficult to tell with the Orthodox. I've heard them retell hagiographical stories of Saints as if they take the stories literally, only to find that this isn't necessarily the case.

So I'd imagine the same might apply to the way they handle Genesis. Also, particularly in the US, there are converts from conservative forms of evangelicalism who seem to have brought a lot of their former baggage and assumptions with them - to the alarm of some of the cradle Orthodox or longer standing converts.

Once or twice I have come across some uber-conservative RCs and that can be quite unsettling. Why? Because they seem to have combined the worst of both worlds.

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mr cheesy
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I suppose what would be interesting to know would be about the "drop-off" rate of enthusiastic conservatives (say ultra Calvinists, YEC-ers and other overlapping definitions) versus other types of Evangelical.

I'd postulate that a kind of cliff-edge loss of belief is more associated with the kinds of faith which require excessive outward forms of very enthusiastic belief rather than those where the faith is more cerebral and associated with less-individual liturgical actions.

I appreciate that these definitions are poor, and that those who fall off the liturgical end might just slowly give up rather than decide in a given moment that they don't believe.

But I'm not sure how this maps onto Evangelicals. I suspect that enthusiastic charismatics (who are not necessarily Calvinist or YEC) have quite a high level of drop off, and that it is probably more than those for whom creationism is not a big part of teaching and belief.

But whether some from that latter group are on a journey of non-belief - and which points it travels through before reaching non-theist - I couldn't say.

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arse

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Jengie jon

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Look these are moderate* Ultra Calvinists my mathematics from Wikipedia suggests that they are doing no better and no worse than the average small denomination in Scotland although there are some claims of growth in recent years (from about 2010).

Jengie

*yes there is a whole host of smaller Presbyterian denominations who have complaints about the leniency of this denominations behaviour.

[ 08. February 2018, 08:16: Message edited by: Jengie jon ]

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Mark Wuntoo
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quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:

I'd postulate that a kind of cliff-edge loss of belief is more associated with the kinds of faith which require excessive outward forms of very enthusiastic belief rather than those where the faith is more cerebral and associated with less-individual liturgical actions. (snip) I suspect that enthusiastic charismatics (who are not necessarily Calvinist or YEC) have quite a high level of drop off, and that it is probably more than those for whom creationism is not a big part of teaching and belief.

But whether some from that latter group are on a journey of non-belief - and which points it travels through before reaching non-theist - I couldn't say.

My general feeling is that the more enthusiastic / charismatic Christians probably move (if they dare more at all [Big Grin] ) along the spectrum but don't drop off into non-theism necessarily. Just a gut feeling.
In my own case, once I had rejected fundamentalism, I was of the 'more cerebral' kind although rather less 'liturgical'. For most of my Christian life (the last 40 years of it) I saw myself on a journey of constant learning and change - which I liked. But it still came as a surprise when I rejected GOD.

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Gramps49
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Dave W wrote

Last year Gallup got 38% who said that "God created humans in present form within last 10,000 years", vs 38% for "Humans evolved, God guided process" and 19% for "Humans evolved, God had no part in process". (Respondents were asked which of these three statements came closest to their views.)

And 38% of Americans self-identify as Evangelicals

Interesting.

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Kaplan Corday
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quote:
Originally posted by Gramps49:
38% of Americans self-identify as Evangelicals

Where does that figure come from?

The most common figure (eg Pew) is 25%.

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Honest Ron Bacardi
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Wasn't the 25(-ish)% figure from a while ago, Kaplan? The most recent survey I can trace suggests it has nosedived over the last decade. The 2017 PRRi survey (here) shows it down to 17%.

I think the 38% figure must relate to something else.

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SvitlanaV2
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quote:
Originally posted by Mark Wuntoo:
I subscribe to the theory of secularization, and of the development from sect to congregation to church theory (though I never really understood why the trend could not be bucked!). I hadn't applied it to individuals but I find that a very helpful idea to think about - thanks.

The trend can seemingly be arrested in some contexts; some movements have retained sect-like qualities. The Amish groups have grown since the turn of the 20th c., and haven't lost their distinctive qualities as a result. The JWs and the Mormons are still quite different from the Protestant mainstream.

Going back to my earlier post, it's not quite right for me to say that church-sect theory focuses on religious groups rather than individuals. Some commentators do go into the influence of changing church dynamics on individual churchgoers, or on types of churchgoers.

Certainly, the phenomenon of increasing education and social status on the part of the clergy and/or laity often leads to tensions within movements which were born to service the faith of less privileged groups. Generational differences may become apparent. And even though modern evangelicals can be quite middle class from the start, there may well be personality differences that indicate how some individuals are likely to move in a different direction.

Commentators note that the growth potential of some evangelical churches actually stimulates these problems. People of all kinds are drawn to popular, lively, close-knit communities, even if they're not entirely convinced about the theology or the lifestyle. Some newcomers may completely absorb what they're taught, but others won't. Too many of the latter will reduce the strictness the church as a whole (to the disgust of some strict members, who sometimes leave), but in a large or growing churches it's almost inevitable that a less strict minority of individuals will probably end up losing interest.

Some strict groups prefer it if dissatisfied people leave rather than staying to undermine the cohesion of the group. But where the transition is already taking place, or where decline has set in, there's probably more anxiety.

[ 09. February 2018, 17:01: Message edited by: SvitlanaV2 ]

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gorpo
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quote:
Originally posted by Arethosemyfeet:
I think the mistake here is viewing atheism and conservative evangelicalism as opposite ends of a spectrum and liberal Christianity as some sort of point in between; that going conservative->liberal->radical->atheist is just progression in the same direction. It's not. You can be a faithful believer with as great a commitment as a con evo while still thinking that PSA is awful theology and that the earth is closer to 4.5 billion years old.

Not really. Going conservative -> liberal IS a progression towards atheism. Liberal theology exists basically because young students loose their faith during seminary, but have to pretend they are still believers to keep their jobs in the clergy. Then they come up with resignifications of traditional christian beliefs, like "God is the ultimate concern of a human life" or "the ressurrection means that Jesus´ project continued in the disciples´ community after his death; his ideals are still alive", etc. You can tell this is a fact, both from a rational and an empirical point of view.

Rational: if you left traditional believes like Jesus´ miracles, ressurrection, atonement, etc, purely on the basis that it cannot be proven rationally, then odds are you´re going to leave belief in a personal God sooner or later, cause that cannot be proven rationally or scientifically either.

Empirical: mainline churches are loosing most of their membership to nonbelief, and that is not happening as a radical change, like it would happen if a former evangelical became atheist. In fact people who leave mainline churches usually notice no difference in their lives, except that they do not have to pay church anymore, since their previous religion was almost indistinguished from the beliefs of the secular society.

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mousethief

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quote:
Originally posted by gorpo:
Not really. Going conservative -> liberal IS a progression towards atheism. Liberal theology exists basically because young students loose their faith during seminary, but have to pretend they are still believers to keep their jobs in the clergy.

What unmitigated bullshit.

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Gee D
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Thank you Mousethief: clear, concise and accurate.

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Kaplan Corday
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quote:
Originally posted by gorpo:
Liberal theology exists basically because young students loose their faith during seminary, but have to pretend they are still believers to keep their jobs in the clergy.

Simplistic and reductionist generalisation, but in some cases the stark and uncomfortable truth.

Liberals have every bit as much capacity for hypocrisy as conservatives.

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mousethief

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quote:
Originally posted by Kaplan Corday:
quote:
Originally posted by gorpo:
Liberal theology exists basically because young students loose their faith during seminary, but have to pretend they are still believers to keep their jobs in the clergy.

Simplistic and reductionist generalisation, but in some cases the stark and uncomfortable truth.
Wish fulfillment of the conservative who doesn't hear what the liberal is saying.

quote:
Liberals have every bit as much capacity for hypocrisy as conservatives.
True but wholly unrelated to the above statement.

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Mark Wuntoo
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quote:
Originally posted by mousethief:
quote:
Originally posted by gorpo:
Not really. Going conservative -> liberal IS a progression towards atheism. Liberal theology exists basically because young students loose their faith during seminary, but have to pretend they are still believers to keep their jobs in the clergy.

What unmitigated bullshit.
mousethief: [Overused]

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Arethosemyfeet
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I would call the things gorpo described radical rather than liberal. To me, liberal means accepting (for example) that the accounts in Genesis and Exodus are at best later embellishments of oral traditions and don't accord with historical evidence. Conservative means you assert that those events really happened as described. Liberal doesn't mean denying the reality of God, or of the miraculous, or of the resurrection, but it does mean taking seriously the truths revealed in and by God's creation as well as those contained within the Bible.
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Mark Wuntoo
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quote:
Originally posted by gorpo:
Not really. Going conservative - liberal IS a progression towards atheism.

From my OP: An email exchange went like this:

Me: “I no longer believe…”
Friend: “ I sensed many years ago that you were headed in that direction…”.


See? Get it? Your comment is EXACTLY what I suspect my evangelical friends think.

At no time duration my pilgrimage from fundamentalist to radical did I ever give up believing in GOD. I preached the Gospel (Bible-based!), I taught social justice, I prayed with people and so on - all the things that a GOD-believing pastor would do. I do not believe that I was hypocritical. Non-belief came after I retired from ministry and was little to do with previous 'theology', more to do with the institutional church (don't get me started).

This is Purgatory isn't it? [Snore]

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SvitlanaV2
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Mark Wuntoo

I think you're protesting a bit too much. You moved from a conevo to a liberal Christian position. And then much later you became an atheist.

Your colleague was therefore correct about the broad outline of your trajectory, even if he was incorrect about all the influencing factors, the precise nature of your journey, the books you'd read, the people you'd spoken to, etc., etc. After all, your colleague was unlikely to know the details unless he was a very close friend.

As for gorpo's comment that liberal Christianity leads to atheism, this isn't primarily a conevo slur. AFAICS, the challenges to faith of various kinds of liberal Christianity have been depicted by historians and sociologists for some time. The issues are part and parcel of the ongoing experience of mainstream Protestant denominations, even if they seem new and 'radical' to those who come from a conevo background.

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SvitlanaV2
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Sorry - I meant to say 'non-theist'.
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Mark Wuntoo
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quote:
Originally posted by SvitlanaV2:
Mark Wuntoo

I think you're protesting a bit too much. .....

Your colleague was therefore correct about the broad outline of your trajectory,

The thing I objected to is the apparent assumption that someone moving from a fundamentalist position through liberal to radical is necessarily 'headed in that direction' (as my friend stated) of non-belief; they are not, is my contention. I asked if shipmates think it is inevitable that such a pilgrimage will end up in some form of atheism. I agree with the general sense of this thread that it is not inevitable.
The reason I am a non-theist, as opposed to an atheist, is my attempt to respect the position of those who hold to faith of whatever sort.

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SvitlanaV2
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It clearly isn't inevitable, since liberal Christians continue to exist, and relatively liberal denominations also exist.

Nevertheless, as you know from church-sect theory, the liberalising process tends to lead to weaknessess in denominations where it becomes influential. Decline sets in and becomes difficult to reverse, since liberalism doesn't exist to tackle the issues that are causing the decline.

I've belonged to the liberalising mainstream (British Methodism) all my life, and have seen the problems with my own eyes. The best situation, ISTM, is to belong to a liberalising niche within a denomination that's still fairly strict and committed to its distinguishing theological features. The Orthodox church perhaps provides such an environment; maybe Seventh Day Adventism, or other strict forms of evangelicalism. But to belong to a highly liberalised denomination is almost certainly to belong to a group that's facing a form of slow death.

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lilBuddha
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quote:
Originally posted by Kaplan Corday:
quote:
Originally posted by gorpo:
Liberal theology exists basically because young students loose their faith during seminary, but have to pretend they are still believers to keep their jobs in the clergy.

Simplistic and reductionist generalisation, but in some cases the stark and uncomfortable truth.

It is the exact opposite. A liberal theology has give. It can take challenge and remain intact. A conservative theology is rigid and more likely to fall apart if there is the slightest fracture in the structure.

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Jengie jon

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Not really there are two dimensions. One is Liberal to Conservative where Conservative means adopting beliefs that are seen as traditional while Liberal means adopting beliefs that are seen as innovative.

There is also a dimension that deals with the rigidity with which the ideas are held which goes from tight to loosely. While I admit I have met few ultra conservatives who are not pretty tight on the belief, I also find that a surprising number of ultra liberals are equally tightly wedded to their belief system. It seems to me that it is the people in the middle who are most open to the perspective of the other side and thus to challenge.

Jengie

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Mark Wuntoo
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quote:
Originally posted by SvitlanaV2:
It clearly isn't inevitable, since liberal Christians continue to exist, and relatively liberal denominations also exist.

Nevertheless, as you know from church-sect theory, the liberalising process tends to lead to weaknessess in denominations where it becomes influential. Decline sets in and becomes difficult to reverse, since liberalism doesn't exist to tackle the issues that are causing the decline.

Yes.
And there are those, a minority I suspect, who get fed-up with the liberal trends and leave to form their own (new)(back to basics) group.
So the cycle continues.

Meant to say up-thread: the Salvation Army is an interesting case (not sure where it fits in all this). In East London, their birthplace and early stronghold, they have all but disappeared as worshipping corps.

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lilBuddha
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quote:
Originally posted by Jengie jon:

There is also a dimension that deals with the rigidity with which the ideas are held which goes from tight to loosely. While I admit I have met few ultra conservatives who are not pretty tight on the belief, I also find that a surprising number of ultra liberals are equally tightly wedded to their belief system.

Yes, I'd agree with this. WIth the caveat that liberal, ultra or not, tolerates more POV so more difficult to challenge in a general sense. On specific issues, yes. But as an overall philosophy, it is not one failure point ad then collapse.

quote:

It seems to me that it is the people in the middle who are most open to the perspective of the other side and thus to challenge.

I don't disagree, but I would phrase it differently. People do not like their POV challenged, no matter what position on the scale it is. That is simply how our brains work. Those in the middle are closer to each side, so neither is as large a challenge to their beliefs.

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Kaplan Corday
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quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
A conservative theology is rigid and more likely to fall apart if there is the slightest fracture in the structure.

Complete rubbish - an ideological assertion based on bigotry and presuppositions instead of inconvenient reality.

I have known countless theological conservatives over the decades, and a handful of them remained as conservative from the day I met them until the day they died, while a handful abandoned the faith entirely.

The overwhelming majority, however (not just me, and my contemporaries, but representatives from older generations) have modified or softened their stance in various particulars without the slightest indication of their faith's looking as if it was going to therefore "fall apart".

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Gramps49
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Okay, the percentage of Evangelicals in the US is 26.3% according to the Pew Research group.
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lilBuddha
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quote:
Originally posted by Kaplan Corday:
quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
A conservative theology is rigid and more likely to fall apart if there is the slightest fracture in the structure.

Complete rubbish - an ideological assertion based on bigotry and presuppositions instead of inconvenient reality.
Perhaps it would help if I said it was a simplistic and reductionist generalisation, but in some cases the stark and uncomfortable truth.

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