SUBSCRIBE | NEWSLETTERS | MAPS | VIDEOS | BLOGS | MARKETPLACE | CONTESTS
TRY BACKPACKER FREE!
SUBSCRIBE NOW and get
2 Free Issues and 3 Free Gifts!
Full Name:
Address 1:
Address 2:
City:
State:
Zip Code:
Email: (required)
If I like it and decide to continue, I'll pay just $12.00, and receive a full one-year subscription (9 issues in all), a 73% savings off the newsstand price! If for any reason I decide not to continue, I'll write "cancel" on the invoice and owe nothing.
Your subscription includes 3 FREE downloadable booklets.
Or click here to pay now and get 2 extra issues
Offer valid in US only.


» Welcome Guest
[ Log In :: Register ]

Page 1 of 41234>>

[ Track This Topic :: Email This Topic :: Print this topic ]

reply to topic new topic new poll
Topic: More on religious orthodoxy, And why defining it can be dangerous< Next Oldest | Next Newest >
 Post Number: 1
cweston Search for posts by this member.

Avatar



Group: Members
Posts: 2794
Joined: Mar. 2009
PostIcon Posted on: May 20 2014, 7:55 am  Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

There was a long discussion about this here recently.

When defining religious orthodoxy is an exercise in semantics, describing what most adherents practice/believe, that's fine.

But so often it goes beyond that, to whose voices count and whose do not: Tony Perkins: 'Real Religious Freedom' Does Not Apply To Pro-Gay Christians.

"I would use that term 'Christian' loosely,Ē Perkins answered. ďThat title is Ė letís talk biblical. Hereís the deal. Itís like with the Religious Freedom Restoration Act that we worked on in Mississippi and failed in Arizona and other places. Hereís a test of what is a true religious freedom: a freedom thatís based on orthodox religious viewpoints. It has to have a track record, it has to come forth from religious orthodoxy.Ē

--Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council
Online
Top of Page Profile Contact Info 
 Post Number: 2
KenV Search for posts by this member.

Avatar



Group: Members
Posts: 7214
Joined: Mar. 2002
PostIcon Posted on: May 20 2014, 10:54 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I find it fascinating that much of the religious right and most atheists/agnostics hold essentially the same views on religious orthodoxy.
Offline
Top of Page Profile Contact Info 
 Post Number: 3
craigwill Search for posts by this member.

Avatar



Group: Members
Posts: 322
Joined: Nov. 2010
PostIcon Posted on: May 21 2014, 1:06 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(cweston @ May 20 2014, 7:55 am)
QUOTE
Hereís a test of what is a true religious freedom: a freedom thatís based on orthodox religious viewpoints. It has to have a track record, it has to come forth from religious orthodoxy.Ē --Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council
[/i]

So basically it's the freedom to be confined. The freedom to think the way the mainstream does.
Offline
Top of Page Profile Contact Info 
 Post Number: 4
HighGravity Search for posts by this member.

Avatar



Group: Members
Posts: 4487
Joined: Oct. 2009
PostIcon Posted on: May 21 2014, 7:41 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(KenV @ May 20 2014, 10:54 pm)
QUOTE
I find it fascinating that much of the religious right and most atheists/agnostics hold essentially the same views on religious orthodoxy.

Hate to break it to you Ken but those aren't the only two groups who view Mormonism as a cult.
Offline
Top of Page Profile Contact Info 
 Post Number: 5
star Search for posts by this member.

Avatar



Group: Members
Posts: 3510
Joined: Jun. 2008
PostIcon Posted on: May 21 2014, 8:37 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

My church is just fine with it too. Lutherans are hardly the new kids on the block.

--------------
If I wanted to live in a dictatorship I would have picked a place with shorter winters.
Offline
Top of Page Profile Contact Info 
 Post Number: 6
cweston Search for posts by this member.

Avatar



Group: Members
Posts: 2794
Joined: Mar. 2009
PostIcon Posted on: May 21 2014, 10:13 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(HighGravity @ May 21 2014, 6:41 am)
QUOTE

(KenV @ May 20 2014, 10:54 pm)
QUOTE
I find it fascinating that much of the religious right and most atheists/agnostics hold essentially the same views on religious orthodoxy.

Hate to break it to you Ken but those aren't the only two groups who view Mormonism as a cult.

Kenv's point is in interesting one, IMHO, which goes far beyond whether people view the LDS Church as a cult.

This is an excerpt from an interview with well-known atheist Christopher Hitchens. The interviewer is a Unitarian minister:

QUOTE
Marilyn Sewell: The religion you cite in your book is generally the fundamentalist faith of various kinds. Iím a liberal Christian, and I donít take the stories from the scripture literally. I donít believe in the doctrine of atonement (that Jesus died for our sins, for example). Do you make and distinction between fundamentalist faith and liberal religion?

Christopher Hitchens: I would say that if you donít believe that Jesus of Nazareth was the Christ and Messiah, and that he rose again from the dead and by his sacrifice our sins are forgiven, youíre really not in any meaningful sense a Christian.


(Complete interview here.)

My thought on this: there is plenty of evidence that not taking stories in the Bible literally is an ancient practice. (Just one example: Augustine, who wrote in the 4th and 5th centuries, clearly follows this practice.) As Biblical scholar John Dominic Crossan puts it:

QUOTE
ďMy point, once again, is not that those ancient people told literal stories and we are now smart enough to take them symbolically, but that they told them symbolically and we are now dumb enough to take them literally.Ē


(John Dominic Crossan, Who Is Jesus? Answers to Your Questions About the Historical Jesus.)

Hitchens was a smart and learned man, and was no-doubt aware of this. So his attitude (which, really, can be summed up as "fundamentalist") puzzles me.

Hitchens says that Christians must believe that by Christ's sacrifice their sins are forgiven. There is actually a very long history behind the theology of Jesus' death, and the predominant mainstream theology of the present (vicarious substitutionary atonement) didn't really exist for the first 1,000 years of Christianity. Up until then, Christ's death and resurrection were primarily framed as victory over death (literally and metaphorically) and as paying a ransom to Satan (not to an angry God).

The fact is, defining orthodoxy that narrowly will always exclude a huge number of people who are/were obviously Christian, both in the past and in the present.
Online
Top of Page Profile Contact Info 
 Post Number: 7
HighGravity Search for posts by this member.

Avatar



Group: Members
Posts: 4487
Joined: Oct. 2009
PostIcon Posted on: May 21 2014, 11:58 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Hitchens was also a supporter of the war in Iraq. The dichotomy that Ken is working from is just silly and meant as a dig toward both groups of people.
Offline
Top of Page Profile Contact Info 
 Post Number: 8
cweston Search for posts by this member.

Avatar



Group: Members
Posts: 2794
Joined: Mar. 2009
PostIcon Posted on: May 21 2014, 1:38 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(HighGravity @ May 21 2014, 10:58 am)
QUOTE
The dichotomy that Ken is working from is just silly and meant as a dig toward both groups of people.

I agree that it's probably intended as a dig at both groups. But I disagree (vigorously) that it's silly. I think it's a perfectly valid observation that bears consideration.

There are two reasons that I think some atheists tend to be "fundamentalists" when it comes to Christianity.

1. Rhetorical tactic. If all Christians believe that the Bible is literally true, than Christianity is easily dismissed, since science tells us that some things in the Bible are factually inaccurate. It's the classic straw man argument: construct a caricature of your rhetorical opponent for the express purpose of making it easy to knock down.

2. Ignorance. I don't mean to say that atheists are any more ignorant than the general population. But, the fact is, the general Western population, including practicing Christians, is pretty ignorant about the history of Christianity, particularly as it pertains to the historical development of theology. Theology, like all human endeavors, does not ever stay the same--it is constantly changing, as each new generation finds its own ways to tell the religious stories.
Online
Top of Page Profile Contact Info 
 Post Number: 9
HighGravity Search for posts by this member.

Avatar



Group: Members
Posts: 4487
Joined: Oct. 2009
PostIcon Posted on: May 21 2014, 5:56 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Your entire argument is based on the false premise that there are atheists who are fundamentalists. That doesn't even make sense. Disproving xianity doesn't disprove god therefore there is no need to pigeon hole Christians into a specific set of beliefs. I don't think anyone has made the case that all xians have the same beliefs. In fact the diversity of those beliefs is one of the things that would indicate to many that there is no single cosmic guiding force behind them.
Offline
Top of Page Profile Contact Info 
 Post Number: 10
cweston Search for posts by this member.

Avatar



Group: Members
Posts: 2794
Joined: Mar. 2009
PostIcon Posted on: May 21 2014, 6:39 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Of course there are fundamentalist atheists: read the interview--Hitchens was clearly one of them.

This isn't rocket science: in the west, Christianity is the most familiar religious expression, so it's the one atheists (those atheist who are inclined to have such discussions) primarily "argue against."

While no one is arguing that all Christians have the same beliefs, plenty of people (including Hitchens in this interview) are arguing for a very narrowly drawn and inflexible definition of Christianity.

Webster defines fundamentalism as "a movement or attitude stressing strict and literal adherence to a set of basic principles."
Online
Top of Page Profile Contact Info 
 Post Number: 11
craigwill Search for posts by this member.

Avatar



Group: Members
Posts: 322
Joined: Nov. 2010
PostIcon Posted on: May 21 2014, 8:43 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(cweston @ May 21 2014, 10:13 am)
QUOTE
QUOTE
Marilyn Sewell: The religion you cite in your book is generally the fundamentalist faith of various kinds. Iím a liberal Christian, and I donít take the stories from the scripture literally. I donít believe in the doctrine of atonement (that Jesus died for our sins, for example). Do you make and distinction between fundamentalist faith and liberal religion?

Christopher Hitchens: I would say that if you donít believe that Jesus of Nazareth was the Christ and Messiah, and that he rose again from the dead and by his sacrifice our sins are forgiven, youíre really not in any meaningful sense a Christian.


(Complete interview here.)

My thought on this: there is plenty of evidence that not taking stories in the Bible literally is an ancient practice. (Just one example: Augustine, who wrote in the 4th and 5th centuries, clearly follows this practice.) As Biblical scholar John Dominic Crossan puts it:

QUOTE
ďMy point, once again, is not that those ancient people told literal stories and we are now smart enough to take them symbolically, but that they told them symbolically and we are now dumb enough to take them literally.Ē


(John Dominic Crossan, Who Is Jesus? Answers to Your Questions About the Historical Jesus.)

Hitchens was a smart and learned man, and was no-doubt aware of this. So his attitude (which, really, can be summed up as "fundamentalist") puzzles me.

Hitchens says that Christians must believe that by Christ's sacrifice their sins are forgiven. There is actually a very long history behind the theology of Jesus' death, and the predominant mainstream theology of the present (vicarious substitutionary atonement) didn't really exist for the first 1,000 years of Christianity. Up until then, Christ's death and resurrection were primarily framed as victory over death (literally and metaphorically) and as paying a ransom to Satan (not to an angry God).

The fact is, defining orthodoxy that narrowly will always exclude a huge number of people who are/were obviously Christian, both in the past and in the present.

I think you may want to consider exactly what Hitchens is saying here. The characteristics he lists are ones that would minimally exist for one to, "in any meaningful sense" be considered a Christian. One may identify themselves culturally with Christians, follow the basic teaching of Jesus, call themselves Christians, but if they didn't meet his stated criteria, they would most likely not be considered true Christians by the Christian organizations that they may belong to (except perhaps Unitarians). I think for clarity in the discussion, Hitchens had to define the term in a precise way.

You certainly have every color in the spectrum when it comes to individual beliefs. If I was to objectively label myself, I would have to say I'm an atheist. But I closely follow Taoist philosophy, I get a great deal of inspiration from Buddhist teachings, and I believe in much of the moral teachings of Jesus, in which I was immersed in as a child. Sense I still believe in a great deal of what has been attributed to Jesus, I guess I could also call myself a Christian. But I don't think that would be a very meaningful way to describe me.

I remember when I was very young, and almost as a right of passage, I had to confess those exact beliefs in order to be accepted into the church. So Hitchens was not so far off in using that definition.
Offline
Top of Page Profile Contact Info 
 Post Number: 12
Three Search for posts by this member.

Avatar



Group: Members
Posts: 1074
Joined: Dec. 2011
PostIcon Posted on: May 21 2014, 9:34 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(cweston @ May 21 2014, 10:13 am)
QUOTE
This is an excerpt from an interview with well-known atheist Christopher Hitchens. The interviewer is a Unitarian minister:

QUOTE
Marilyn Sewell: The religion you cite in your book is generally the fundamentalist faith of various kinds. Iím a liberal Christian, and I donít take the stories from the scripture literally. I donít believe in the doctrine of atonement (that Jesus died for our sins, for example). Do you make and distinction between fundamentalist faith and liberal religion?

Christopher Hitchens: I would say that if you donít believe that Jesus of Nazareth was the Christ and Messiah, and that he rose again from the dead and by his sacrifice our sins are forgiven, youíre really not in any meaningful sense a Christian.



Hitchens says that Christians must believe that by Christ's sacrifice their sins are forgiven. There is actually a very long history behind the theology of Jesus' death, and the predominant mainstream theology of the present (vicarious substitutionary atonement) didn't really exist for the first 1,000 years of Christianity. Up until then, Christ's death and resurrection were primarily framed as victory over death (literally and metaphorically) and as paying a ransom to Satan (not to an angry God).

The fact is, defining orthodoxy that narrowly will always exclude a huge number of people who are/were obviously Christian, both in the past and in the present.

1.  Hitchen's is right.

2.  
QUOTE
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
9 Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from Godís wrath through him! 10 For if, while we were Godís enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! ... 17 For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive Godís abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ!

Romans 5


CW, would you agree the book of Romans was written before 1000 AD?
Offline
Top of Page Profile Contact Info 
 Post Number: 13
cweston Search for posts by this member.

Avatar



Group: Members
Posts: 2794
Joined: Mar. 2009
PostIcon Posted on: May 21 2014, 9:54 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(Three @ May 21 2014, 8:34 pm)
QUOTE
CW, would you agree the book of Romans was written before 1000 AD?

Why do you keep asking me dumba$s questions like this? Of course it was.

There are about 80 different explanations for everything in the Bible, including the meaning of Jesus' life and death. I didn't claim that there was not basis in scripture for understanding Jesus' death and resurrection in terms of substitutionary atonement. Obviously, there is support (mostly in the Pauline letters) for that idea in the Christian scriptures. There is support for a lot of different ideas in the Bible.

But theology is not what it says in the sacred texts--it is how people understand and interpret what it says in the sacred texts. And substitutionary atonement is not how Christians *principally* understood Jesus' death and resurrection for about the first 1,000 years.

If you want to disagree, then fine. Since I am making a historical theological claim, you would need to present historical theological evidence against in order to convince me (or anyone else).

And, BTW, of course you agree with Hitchens about this: you and he are of like mind in regarding Christianity in fundamentalist terms.
Online
Top of Page Profile Contact Info 
 Post Number: 14
cweston Search for posts by this member.

Avatar



Group: Members
Posts: 2794
Joined: Mar. 2009
PostIcon Posted on: May 21 2014, 10:04 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(craigwill @ May 21 2014, 7:43 pm)
QUOTE
I think you may want to consider exactly what Hitchens is saying here. The characteristics he lists are ones that would minimally exist for one to, "in any meaningful sense" be considered a Christian. One may identify themselves culturally with Christians, follow the basic teaching of Jesus, call themselves Christians, but if they didn't meet his stated criteria, they would most likely not be considered true Christians by the Christian organizations that they may belong to (except perhaps Unitarians).

Fair enough.

FWIW, I believe strongly that this is a factually incorrect assertion.

There are plenty of people in several denominations--Methodists, Presbyterians, Episcopalians, American Baptists, Christian (Disciples), UCC, ELCA Lutheran, Quakers, etc--who may not believe that Jesus' primary purpose was to die for the forgiveness of sins, who may not believe in a literal, bodily resurrection, and who don't necessarily take the Bible literally. These may not be majority position is those denominations, but they're not wacky fringe ideas, either. (Not taking the Bible literally probably is the majority belief in at least some of these denominations.)

To exclude them from being called Christians would be to exclude an awful lot of people who are pretty obviously Christians, according to their practice and how they self identify. And the denominations these people belong to would most certainly consider them Christians.
Online
Top of Page Profile Contact Info 
 Post Number: 15
Three Search for posts by this member.

Avatar



Group: Members
Posts: 1074
Joined: Dec. 2011
PostIcon Posted on: May 21 2014, 10:27 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(cweston @ May 21 2014, 9:54 pm)
QUOTE
There are about 80 different explanations for everything in the Bible, including the meaning of Jesus' life and death. I didn't claim that there was not basis in scripture for understanding Jesus' death and resurrection in terms of substitutionary atonement. Obviously, there is support (mostly in the Pauline letters) for that idea in the Christian scriptures. There is support for a lot of different ideas in the Bible.

But theology is not what it says in the sacred texts--it is how people understand and interpret what it says in the sacred texts. And substitutionary atonement is not how Christians *principally* understood Jesus' death and resurrection for about the first 1,000 years.

If you want to disagree, then fine. Since I am making a historical theological claim, you would need to present historical theological evidence against in order to convince me (or anyone else).

And, BTW, of course you agree with Hitchens about this: you and he are of like mind in regarding Christianity in fundamentalist terms.

QUOTE
Why do you keep asking me dumba$s questions like this? Of course it was.


Good hearing from you too, CW.

QUOTE
There is support for a lot of different ideas in the Bible.


Are you referring to scriptural support for other purposes for Christ's death than atoning for our sins?  If so, can you point me to passages that support these other purposes?

QUOTE
But theology is not what it says in the sacred texts--it is how people understand and interpret what it says in the sacred texts.


I thought theology is the study of God.   If God is True and the Truth, then isn't theology the quest for the truth, not what people believe, but what is true?

QUOTE
Since I am making a historical theological claim, you would need to present historical theological evidence against in order to convince me (or anyone else).


Did I miss the historical support you provided for your contention that the atonement the principal understanding of Christ's death and resurrection until 1000AD ?

QUOTE
And, BTW, of course you agree with Hitchens about this: you and he are of like mind in regarding Christianity in fundamentalist terms.


I think I would have rather liked meeting and conversing with Christopher Hitchens.  

Re Fundamentalist.  If a fundamentalist is one who believes and practices the fundamentals.    I very much like the fundamentals of Christianity, though I need to vastly improve my practice of them.  

Can someone who doesn't care for the fundamentals of Christianity accurately be termed a Christian?
Offline
Top of Page Profile Contact Info 
 Post Number: 16
craigwill Search for posts by this member.

Avatar



Group: Members
Posts: 322
Joined: Nov. 2010
PostIcon Posted on: May 21 2014, 11:48 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(cweston @ May 21 2014, 10:04 pm)
QUOTE
To exclude them from being called Christians would be to exclude an awful lot of people who are pretty obviously Christians, according to their practice and how they self identify. And the denominations these people belong to would most certainly consider them Christians.

So I guess we're just talking about the accuracy of the labels used when having debates over religion and atheism. You could use terms like hard-core Christians and not-so-hard-core Christians. Or fundamental and liberal. But I think why you don't hear atheist speakers often use the fundamental modifier when referring to that group of Christians is that primarily that is the group they're most always having to respond to. Since atheism is always under attack by this group (because we're the work of the devil and we're scheming ways to devour their children), many atheist feel the need to counterattack, unfortunately using labels with broad brushes, or narrow ones, I guess. (A broad one when a narrow one is meant.) Also, when advocating for a more scientific approach to issues, it is this group that can be the most worrisome in spreading false information or potentially harmful ideas. So you're probably right that the terms used should be more accurate. But I think in the context of the general debate, most atheist just use Christian to refer to fundamentalist.
Offline
Top of Page Profile Contact Info 
 Post Number: 17
KenV Search for posts by this member.

Avatar



Group: Members
Posts: 7214
Joined: Mar. 2002
PostIcon Posted on: May 22 2014, 1:53 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(cweston @ May 21 2014, 1:38 pm)
QUOTE
I agree that it's probably intended as a dig at both groups.

Intended as a dig? †Not really. †I have no problem with literalist/fundamentalist Christians and consider them fully Christian. †I do disagree with the way they choose to interpret scripture. †What's fascinating to me is that the diametric opposite of a fundamentalist Christian would appear to be an atheist/agnostic, yet both generally interpret scripture in essentially the same way and have similar fandamentalist views on religion in general.


QUOTE
But I disagree (vigorously) that it's silly. I think it's a perfectly valid observation that bears consideration.
Agreed. †Why do two apparently diameterically opposed groups have such similarities when it comes to interpreting scripture? †I think you provided two good answers. †I'd like to add a third: †To justify dismissing with a single stroke a large body of individuals whose views you disagree with.

Let me give an example.
On this forum I recently asked an atheist why he hated god. †He (along with others who chimed in) claimed that he did NOT hate god and that I had made a common, but entirely false characterization. †And yet they believed with a great deal of certainty that god:
1. was a vengeful murderer
2. was a mass murderer
3. had personally engaged in genocide
4. had personally engaged in planeticide

Any being who engages in the above monstrous behaviors is clearly a monster who should be hated. †It makes no sense at all to NOT hate such a monstrous being. † And yet they deny they hate the god whom they say they are certain behaves that way. †So why this contradiction?

Because a literalist/fundamentalist interpretatioin of scripture makes it easy to justify mocking and dismissing both this caricature of god, as well as those who profess to believe in that god. †When I said that I interpreted the same scripture completely differently and my interpretation showed god to always be compassionate, kind, and merciful, several atheists chimed in to state my view was "completely F***ed up".

The bottom line is that taking a literalist/fundamentalist interpretation justifies the fundamentalist Christian in declaring others non-Christian and thus not really worthy of consideration, and that same interpretation justifies atheists in declaring others "completely F***ed up" and thus not really worthy of consideration. †It's two sides of the same coin.

And is the above a dig at fundamentalist Christians and atheists? †Not at all. †It's an explanation for the common way they choose to interpret scripture.
Offline
Top of Page Profile Contact Info 
 Post Number: 18
KenV Search for posts by this member.

Avatar



Group: Members
Posts: 7214
Joined: Mar. 2002
PostIcon Posted on: May 22 2014, 2:05 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(craigwill @ May 21 2014, 11:48 pm)
QUOTE

(cweston @ May 21 2014, 10:04 pm)
QUOTE
To exclude them from being called Christians would be to exclude an awful lot of people who are pretty obviously Christians, according to their practice and how they self identify. And the denominations these people belong to would most certainly consider them Christians.

So I guess we're just talking about the accuracy of the labels used when having debates over religion and atheism. You could use terms like hard-core Christians and not-so-hard-core Christians. Or fundamental and liberal. But I think why you don't hear atheist speakers often use the fundamental modifier when referring to that group of Christians is that primarily that is the group they're most always having to respond to. Since atheism is always under attack by this group (because we're the work of the devil and we're scheming ways to devour their children), many atheist feel the need to counterattack, unfortunately using labels with broad brushes, or narrow ones, I guess. (A broad one when a narrow one is meant.) Also, when advocating for a more scientific approach to issues, it is this group that can be the most worrisome in spreading false information or potentially harmful ideas. So you're probably right that the terms used should be more accurate. But I think in the context of the general debate, most atheist just use Christian to refer to fundamentalist.

All this is likely true.  And yet.......

Why do many atheists on this board repeatedly and strongly insist that progressive Christian views like cweston's and Mormon Christian views like mine are not Christian at all?  Our views, our interpretations of scripture, and even our methodologies for interpreting scripture don't count at all.  We are summarily dismissed from the argument.
Offline
Top of Page Profile Contact Info 
 Post Number: 19
cweston Search for posts by this member.

Avatar



Group: Members
Posts: 2794
Joined: Mar. 2009
PostIcon Posted on: May 22 2014, 8:09 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(craigwill @ May 21 2014, 10:48 pm)
QUOTE

(cweston @ May 21 2014, 10:04 pm)
QUOTE
To exclude them from being called Christians would be to exclude an awful lot of people who are pretty obviously Christians, according to their practice and how they self identify. And the denominations these people belong to would most certainly consider them Christians.

So I guess we're just talking about the accuracy of the labels used when having debates over religion and atheism. You could use terms like hard-core Christians and not-so-hard-core Christians. Or fundamental and liberal. But I think why you don't hear atheist speakers often use the fundamental modifier when referring to that group of Christians is that primarily that is the group they're most always having to respond to. Since atheism is always under attack by this group (because we're the work of the devil and we're scheming ways to devour their children), many atheist feel the need to counterattack, unfortunately using labels with broad brushes, or narrow ones, I guess. (A broad one when a narrow one is meant.) Also, when advocating for a more scientific approach to issues, it is this group that can be the most worrisome in spreading false information or potentially harmful ideas. So you're probably right that the terms used should be more accurate. But I think in the context of the general debate, most atheist just use Christian to refer to fundamentalist.

Yeah, I agree with all of that (except the "not so hard-core" label--yuck.)

And I do think that some people who aren't aware of the vast spectrum of Christian belief and practice, present and past, tend to assume that the current dominant model in our culture (which is probably evangelical protestantism) is all there is.

But, beyond that, many people, including Hitchens, know that, for example, "liberal mainline protestantism" exists, but argue that these people are not Christians in any meaningful way. They are arguing, essentially, that real Christians are now, and have always been, fundamentalists, and have always taken the Bible literally. This is clearly false, IMHO. Fundamentalism and it's emphasis on literal interpretation is a modern, post-enlightenment movement.
Online
Top of Page Profile Contact Info 
 Post Number: 20
craigwill Search for posts by this member.

Avatar



Group: Members
Posts: 322
Joined: Nov. 2010
PostIcon Posted on: May 22 2014, 8:21 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(KenV @ May 22 2014, 1:53 am)
QUOTE

Let me give an example.
On this forum I recently asked an atheist why he hated god. †He (along with others who chimed in) claimed that he did NOT hate god and that I had made a common, but entirely false characterization. †And yet they believed with a great deal of certainty that god:
1. was a vengeful murderer
2. was a mass murderer
3. had personally engaged in genocide
4. had personally engaged in planeticide

Any being who engages in the above monstrous behaviors is clearly a monster who should be hated. †It makes no sense at all to NOT hate such a monstrous being. † And yet they deny they hate the god whom they say they are certain behaves that way. †So why this contradiction?

The question you initially posed, and thus your example, is a bit nonsensical. How can you hate something that doesn't exist? The characterizations listed are all from the Old Testament and are offered as evidence that these are man-made stories and the Bible is chock full of contradictions. But atheist don't hate what they perceive as a fictional character or an entity they do not believe exists.
Offline
Top of Page Profile Contact Info 
 Post Number: 21
cweston Search for posts by this member.

Avatar



Group: Members
Posts: 2794
Joined: Mar. 2009
PostIcon Posted on: May 22 2014, 8:31 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(Three @ May 21 2014, 9:27 pm)
QUOTE
Are you referring to scriptural support for other purposes for Christ's death than atoning for our sins? †If so, can you point me to passages that support these other purposes?

You've misunderstood my point. Two things...

Jesus' death has always been understood as sacrificial. But there have been many different understandings of the details of that sacrifice. Ransom theory was the predominant understanding for the first 1000 years.

QUOTE
Essentially, this theory claimed that Adam and Eve sold humanity over to the Devil at the time of the Fall; hence, justice required that God pay the Devil a ransom to free us from the Devil's clutches. God, however, tricked the Devil into accepting Christ's death as a ransom, for the Devil did not realize that Christ could not be held in the bonds of death. Once the Devil accepted Christ's death as a ransom, this theory concluded, justice was satisfied and God was able to free us from Satan's grip.
ó Robin Collins, Understanding Atonement: A New and Orthodox Theory


Anselm's response to this, substitutionary atonement, was not formulated until the 11th century. Anselm argued that humanity owed a penalty of death to God (not to Satan) and that the purpose of Jesus' death was to vicariously pay that debt for all humanity.

Second: what I said is that many Christians have (and do) not always regarded sacrificial death as the principal purpose of Jesus' life. Yes, there are many, many scriptures that suggest other possibilities here, as I'm sure you know:

QUOTE
John 10:10
"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly."

Luke 19:10
"For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost."

Matthew 12:28
"But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you."

Matthew 15:24
But He answered and said, "I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel."

John 10:16
"I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear My voice; and they will become one flock with one shepherd."

John 12:46
"I have come as Light into the world, so that everyone who believes in Me will not remain in darkness."


and so on...

In all of these passages, Jesus is recorded as speaking metaphorically about his purpose. One of the things about metaphor that is simultaneously powerful AND frustrating is that they are always open to (yea, actively invite) interpretation.
Online
Top of Page Profile Contact Info 
 Post Number: 22
cweston Search for posts by this member.

Avatar



Group: Members
Posts: 2794
Joined: Mar. 2009
PostIcon Posted on: May 22 2014, 8:50 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Here is an interesting blog on the topic of whether or not the purpose of Jesus' life was to die (and be raised).

This author clearly holds an orthodox view of who Jesus is (son of God, second person of the trinity, etc), but is questioning 2 tenets of conventional substitutionary atonement theology:

1. Did God send his son with the purpose or aim that he should die for us?

2. Did God really need or require the death of his son to forgive sins?

This author has interesting ideas, but, unfortunately, does not express them in writing all that well--the grammar is a bit of a struggle here.

What Jesus Did NOT Die on the Cross For
Online
Top of Page Profile Contact Info 
 Post Number: 23
Ecocentric Search for posts by this member.

Avatar



Group: Members
Posts: 5211
Joined: Jun. 2009
PostIcon Posted on: May 22 2014, 11:54 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

There certainly are atheists that are fundamentalists, and while they might quote Hitchens a lot, it is unlikely that they will canonize him, nor hate a god that they don't believe in. That isn't to say that they can't hate the ideas that they are diametrically opposed to, or the people that seek to push those ideas in the schools and courts.

The problem with labels are that they are easily perverted by people. Those people that might identify with Free Thinkers are not particularly monolithic in their beliefs, and while they might quote Hitchens or Dawkins, are more likely to articulate their personal beliefs, or lack of. Just because Ken or Three call someone an atheist, does not make it so. Even the Church of LDS has it's fundamentalist factions and fringe elements. I suppose Scientology is the same way.

It is interesting that the most intensive dogma is a product of monotheism, while animists and pantheists are more inclined to tell their stories as morality tales, with far less concern for rigid adherence to ritual and scripture. What I have learned from the history of religion, is that when someone has strong enough disagreement with the dominant religions of the time, they invent a new one.

I appreciate that we have some free thinkers here, including some that I think of as Christian. Not so much the word twisters and scripture quoters. As for me, I'm a militant agnostic. I believe that I don't know, and you don't either. I have been heavily influenced by Jesus, and Buddha. Like craigwill, Taoism as I understand it is very compatible with the laws of nature as I understand them.


--------------
"Travel suggestions from strangers are like dancing lessons from God." -Kurt Vonnegut Jr.
Offline
Top of Page Profile Contact Info 
 Post Number: 24
Three Search for posts by this member.

Avatar



Group: Members
Posts: 1074
Joined: Dec. 2011
PostIcon Posted on: May 22 2014, 2:30 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(cweston @ May 22 2014, 8:31 am)
QUOTE

Thanks CW.  

QUOTE
There is actually a very long history behind the theology of Jesus' death, and the predominant mainstream theology of the present (vicarious substitutionary atonement) didn't really exist for the first 1,000 years of Christianity. Up until then, Christ's death and resurrection were primarily framed as victory over death (literally and metaphorically) and as paying a ransom to Satan (not to an angry God).


This was your original contention.

Your scripture quotes address the purpose of Jesus' life/work on earth.

QUOTE
Second: what I said is that many Christians have (and do) not always regarded sacrificial death as the principal purpose of Jesus' life. Yes, there are many, many scriptures that suggest other possibilities here, as I'm sure you know:

QUOTE
John 10:10
"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly."

Luke 19:10
"For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost."

Matthew 12:28
"But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you."

Matthew 15:24
But He answered and said, "I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel."

John 10:16
"I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear My voice; and they will become one flock with one shepherd."

John 12:46
"I have come as Light into the world, so that everyone who believes in Me will not remain in darkness."



IIRC my question was what purpose, other than atoning for our sins, does the scripture offer for Jesus' death and resurrection?
Offline
Top of Page Profile Contact Info 
 Post Number: 25
cweston Search for posts by this member.

Avatar



Group: Members
Posts: 2794
Joined: Mar. 2009
PostIcon Posted on: May 22 2014, 3:22 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(Three @ May 22 2014, 1:30 pm)
QUOTE
IIRC my question was what purpose, other than atoning for our sins, does the scripture offer for Jesus' death and resurrection?

For one example, death and rebirth (i.e. personal spiritual transformation) is one of the over-arching themes of Christian scripture.

In Mark 8:34, Jesus says "If any want to become my followers, lat them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me."

Matthew 16:24 says the same thing: "If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me."

Luke 9:23: "If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow me."

Note the key evolution here of the saying: Luke, writing after Mark and Matthew, adds "daily." How does that change the saying? Well, you cannot literally die on the cross daily. Luke is making it explicitly clear that the way of Christ is, in part, a continual metaphorical death and rebirth.

Jesus expressly addresses this in John, in the exchange over being born anew/from above (it is a double meaning in Greek) with Nicademus. Note that Nicademus takes Jesus's words ridiculously literally: "Can a man go again into his mother's womb and be reborn?" (Duh, Nicademus: Jesus is speaking metaphorically, not literally. Also, dude--that's gross.)

When Paul speaks of participating in the crucifixion, he is clearly using this death and rebirth metaphor. "I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me" (Galations 2:19-20). He has not literally been crucified--he is speaking if Christ's death and resurrection as a metaphor for death and rebirth, generally: a process that is available to all.

Some other narrative themes about the death of Jesus found in Christian scripture include:

Vindication. (The Romans executed Jesus as a criminal, God vindicated Jesus.)

The Defeat of the Powers. (Colossians 2:15: "When He [God] had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him." "Powers" here should be understood more broadly than "the Romans," IMHO. There are always "Romans" of some sort, throughout human history. Rome was, all things considered, not even a particularly awful example of the "powers."

Revelation of the Depth of God's love for humanity.  (John 3:16)

Crucifixion as Sacrifice for Sins (everyone knows about this theme).
Online
Top of Page Profile Contact Info 
 Post Number: 26
Walkinman Search for posts by this member.
A rainbow
Avatar



Group: Members
Posts: 7524
Joined: Nov. 2002
PostIcon Posted on: May 22 2014, 6:01 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(KenV @ May 21 2014, 9:53 pm)
QUOTE
Ö
QUOTE
But I disagree (vigorously) that it's silly. I think it's a perfectly valid observation that bears consideration.
Agreed. †Why do two apparently diameterically opposed groups have such similarities when it comes to interpreting scripture? †I think you provided two good answers. †I'd like to add a third: †To justify dismissing with a single stroke a large body of individuals whose views you disagree with.

Let me give an example.
On this forum I recently asked an atheist why he hated god. †He (along with others who chimed in) claimed that he did NOT hate god and that I had made a common, but entirely false characterization. †And yet they believed with a great deal of certainty that god:
1. was a vengeful murderer
2. was a mass murderer
3. had personally engaged in genocide
4. had personally engaged in planeticide

Any being who engages in the above monstrous behaviors is clearly a monster who should be hated. †It makes no sense at all to NOT hate such a monstrous being. † And yet they deny they hate the god whom they say they are certain behaves that way. †So why this contradiction?

Because a literalist/fundamentalist interpretatioin of scripture makes it easy to justify mocking and dismissing both this caricature of god, as well as those who profess to believe in that god. †When I said that I interpreted the same scripture completely differently and my interpretation showed god to always be compassionate, kind, and merciful, several atheists chimed in to state my view was "completely F***ed up".

The bottom line is that taking a literalist/fundamentalist interpretation justifies the fundamentalist Christian in declaring others non-Christian and thus not really worthy of consideration, and that same interpretation justifies atheists in declaring others "completely F***ed up" and thus not really worthy of consideration. †It's two sides of the same coin.

And is the above a dig at fundamentalist Christians and atheists? †Not at all. †It's an explanation for the common way they choose to interpret scripture.

Ken

Don't intentionally be a clown.

An atheist 'hates' your god like an atheist 'hates' the evil reindeer that bully and call Rudolph names.

And that is (just one example of) why several people chimed in to state that your view is "completely F**ed up".

One more reason why some atheists might argue a 'fundamental' interpretation is simply consistency. It's those fundamental interpretations that are routinely used to argue against non-xian viewpoints. It's a very rigid and narrow interpretation, for example, that claims some kind of excessive dominion by the church over marriage. ad nauseum.


--------------
Guided Alaska backpacking and hiking trips

"What good is a used up world and how can it be worth having?" -- Sting, All This Time.
Offline
Top of Page Profile Contact Info WEB 
 Post Number: 27
craigwill Search for posts by this member.

Avatar



Group: Members
Posts: 322
Joined: Nov. 2010
PostIcon Posted on: May 22 2014, 6:12 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(Ecocentric @ May 22 2014, 11:54 am)
QUOTE
As for me, I'm a militant agnostic.

I've actually never given a great deal of thought to what label I should subscribe to. I would be content with just "an organism of the homo sapiens species". Any further classification according to individual thought processes, I would think, is impractical. But your self-classification got my thought processes reevaluating my own self-classification. I previously said I'm an atheist since I certainly don't believe in the existence of any of the deities promoted by any religion that I'm knowledgeable of. However, I guess I do have to acknowledge that there is a possibility of a more advanced being that could have caused the Big Bang to occur or caused the first molecule of DNA to come into existence. In the case of the latter, I imagine some advanced being could have planted a basic self-replicating DNA molecule, prone to mutate, into a suitable environment on Earth and then just abandoned it to let it do it's thing. Or possibly He/She/Both continued to monitor it but is just very good at Leave No Trace practices.

So having acknowledged that, I guess that means I need to change my label from atheist to agnostic. There's simply no way for any of us to know unless He/She/Both slips up on the Leave No Trace.

I'll have to think more about the militant bit.
Offline
Top of Page Profile Contact Info 
 Post Number: 28
KenV Search for posts by this member.

Avatar



Group: Members
Posts: 7214
Joined: Mar. 2002
PostIcon Posted on: May 22 2014, 10:29 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(craigwill @ May 22 2014, 8:21 am)
QUOTE

(KenV @ May 22 2014, 1:53 am)
QUOTE

Let me give an example.
On this forum I recently asked an atheist why he hated god. †He (along with others who chimed in) claimed that he did NOT hate god and that I had made a common, but entirely false characterization. †And yet they believed with a great deal of certainty that god:
1. was a vengeful murderer
2. was a mass murderer
3. had personally engaged in genocide
4. had personally engaged in planeticide

Any being who engages in the above monstrous behaviors is clearly a monster who should be hated. †It makes no sense at all to NOT hate such a monstrous being. † And yet they deny they hate the god whom they say they are certain behaves that way. †So why this contradiction?

The question you initially posed, and thus your example, is a bit nonsensical. How can you hate something that doesn't exist?

That's an excellent question, and one which points to what you call the "nonsensical" nature of many atheirsts' arguments. †On the one hand, the bible is a book of myth and fiction and the characters in it totally fictional. †And yet, when I say I interpret those stories differently than the way fundamentalist/orthodox Christians and atheists interpret those stories, the atheists insist I MUST interpret them their way and MUST view god as a vengeful murderer and worse.

If they REALLY believed the Bible is all fiction and myth, why do they care how anyone interprets the Bible?  Afterall, atheists don't give a rip about the many ways to interpret the Santa Claus myth.  Why are they so all fired up insistent about the "orthodox" way to interpret the Bible?  As you say, it's "nonsensical".  And yet, there it is.

And what's up with that? †Besides the two reasons cited by cweston, I believe there's a third reason. †Interpreting scripture any way other than the fundamentalist/orthodox way enables both fundamentalist Christians and atheists to declare other interpretations as unworthy of consideration. †It also enables them to declare those people who accept other interpretations as unworthy of consideration.
Offline
Top of Page Profile Contact Info 
 Post Number: 29
KenV Search for posts by this member.

Avatar



Group: Members
Posts: 7214
Joined: Mar. 2002
PostIcon Posted on: May 22 2014, 10:29 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

duplicate post deleted.
Offline
Top of Page Profile Contact Info 
 Post Number: 30
craigwill Search for posts by this member.

Avatar



Group: Members
Posts: 322
Joined: Nov. 2010
PostIcon Posted on: May 22 2014, 11:19 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic.  Ignore posts   QUOTE


(KenV @ May 22 2014, 10:29 pm)
QUOTE

If they REALLY believed the Bible is all fiction and myth, why do they care how anyone interprets the Bible? †

Because throughout history, these literal interpretations have been used to distort education, justify discrimination, persecute non-believers, and even promote war.

But you've read this time and time again on this forum. So I don't think it's your Biblical interpretations that are the problem.
Offline
Top of Page Profile Contact Info 
95 replies since May 20 2014, 7:55 am < Next Oldest | Next Newest >

[ Track This Topic :: Email This Topic :: Print this topic ]


Page 1 of 41234>>
reply to topic new topic new poll

» Quick Reply More on religious orthodoxy
iB Code Buttons
You are posting as:

Do you wish to enable your signature for this post?
Do you wish to enable emoticons for this post?
Track this topic
View All Emoticons
View iB Code



Get 2 FREE Trial Issues and 3 FREE GIFTS
Survival Skills 101 • Eat Better
The Best Trails in America
YES! Please send me my FREE trial issues of Backpacker
and my 3 FREE downloadable booklets.
Full Name:
City:
Address 1:
Zip Code:
State:
Address 2:
Email (required):
Free trial offer valid for US subscribers only. Canadian subscriptions | International subscriptions