Who's authority?

Discussion in 'Theology' started by wil, Dec 16, 2008.

  1. Thomas

    Thomas Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Hi Seattlegal —

    But we're discussing doctrine here ... so 'authority' is vested in an individual by the community after his having successfully demonstrated a firm understanding of, and the ability to explain, the doctrine as it is understood by the community that holds it.

    Thomas
     
  2. seattlegal

    seattlegal Mercuræn Buddhist Staff Member

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    Then the question must be asked: does doctrine necessarily constitute "spiritual authority?" What about the fruit that any given doctrine bears?

    I've given two similar examples of what constitutes spiritual authority from two different doctrines in post #17. There seems to be some agreement between these two doctrines as to what constitutes spiritual authority...
     
  3. Thomas

    Thomas Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Hi Dauer –

    I quite agree. That's the whole point ... if only I could make everyone else see that.

    I was generalising towards that point. What I should have done, especially on this board, is reference a text or source from which to derive an accepted Jewish opinion, rather than offer my own erroneous one.

    Apologies,

    Thomas
     
  4. Bandit

    Bandit New Member

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    Perhaps it is in the few who can see and admit that all of those perspectives of authority are flawed and suck.

    Take for example the post, pre and middle rapture theories or your freewill predestination theories. They all say they are right using the same exact text while claiming their religion is the authority. Yet they are all clearly flawed ideas when you follow it through. Religion does this to people.

    To answer your question, I would not say any human has authority let alone spiritual authority and it does not matter what religion or group makes what claims to what texts. Private human interpretations make words mean whatever they want it to mean at any time, then change what it means when convenient thus presenting error rather than some god(s) giving authority to some group.

    It is more of an incomplete, inconsistent, human brainwashing & fear attribute than real authority.

    When leaving the authority/doctrine (error) actually gets you out of the error:)...then you of course become a heretic & evildoer to the group you leave for leaving the incomplete error...and so on & so forth...
     
  5. dauer

    dauer Active Member

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    Ain't no thang, T.

    -- Dauer
     
  6. Thomas

    Thomas Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Do I assume then, that if there is something one doesn't know ... then one can never know, because there is no-one from whom one can inquire?

    Thomas
     
  7. wil

    wil UNeyeR1

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    'You can't step into the same rive'r twice seems appropriate.

    I've read some of the Catholic theological discusssions on dogma and some of the Jewish theological discussions on the law and the administering thereof. Am no expert on any of it...but it appears over time these discussions continue and are modified and changed.

    Hence, sure you can inquire...and maybe even come to a conclusion, but just because you do doesn't mean tomorrow or next year the conclusion will be different.
     
  8. juantoo3

    juantoo3 ʎʇıɹoɥʇnɐ uoıʇsǝnb

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    My apologies for opening a can o' worms.

    But this does expose the complexities involved with what, *precisely,* constitutes "authority." From where I am sitting, it is just an expanded and modified game of "he said, she said." You pays your money, you picks your "authority," and you takes your chances.

    Which brings me back to doing my own homework instead of relying on someone else to do it for me. :D

    I suppose the need for a caveat. What I have written should not be interpreted as meaning to ignore "established" authority...only to take such authority with a grain of salt. There is good and bad to be found all around...I have long held the opinion that I can learn from the most unlearned, unskilled, foolish person...if nothing else, what not to do. There is wisdom to be found in very unlikely places...but it also requires discernment to sort through the muck and pull out the gemstone.

    In other words, I can read any and every studied and learned "church" father (and mother), and still have to ultimately make up my own mind over what each teaches. It is erroneous to think that all such agree on every detail...they don't. The more outside the mainstream, the greater the tendency to ostracization...but even within the stream there is a wide berth of understanding. And each and every understanding written by each and every learned author is ultimately a personal understanding borne of a personal journey...even if that journey is confined within the guidelines of a particular denomination.

    In fairness, this is my opinion. But it is my *studied* opinion, not just a flippant excuse to justify my own desires. Indeed, my studies have on a number of occasions tempered my tendencies and desires, and at the least I like to believe I have learned to face my animal nature with a lot more intellectual honesty than I see around me as a rule.
     
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2009
  9. Joedjr

    Joedjr A Sometimes Member

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    Hi Thomas,
    The literalist responds: From the NASB
    Mark 11:22-25
    22: And Jesus answered saying to them, "Have faith in God"
    23: "Truly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, 'Be taken up and cast into the sea,' and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says is going to happen, it will be granted him.
    24: "Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted you.
    25: "Whenever you stand praying, for give, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father who is in heaven will also forgive you your transgressions.
    John 12:12-14
    12: "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father.
    13: "Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
    14: "If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.
    John 15:7-8
    7: "If you abide in Me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.
    8: "My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples.
    Matthew 7:5-8
    5: "You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye.
    6: "Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.
    7: "Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.
    8: "For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.
     
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2009
  10. Thomas

    Thomas Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Actually, if we take the 'who's authority' question in its fullest implication, then Scripture is discounted as being non-authoritative, it wasn't written by Jesus, but his followers. So it's not authoritative.

    Thomas
     
  11. seattlegal

    seattlegal Mercuræn Buddhist Staff Member

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    I still like how Jesus put it:
    Matt 7:15-23
    15 "Beware of false prophets (L) who come to you in sheep's (M) clothing (N) but inwardly are ravaging wolves. (O) 16 You'll recognize them by their fruit. (P) Are grapes gathered from thornbushes or figs from thistles? (Q) 17 In the same way, every good tree produces good fruit, but a bad tree produces bad fruit. 18 A good tree can't produce bad fruit; neither can a bad tree produce good fruit. 19 Every tree that doesn't produce good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. (R) 20 So you'll recognize them by their fruit. (S) 21 "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord!' will enter the kingdom of heaven, (T) but [only] the one who does the will (U) of My Father in heaven. (V) 22 On that day many will say to Me, 'Lord, Lord, didn't we prophesy in Your name, drive out demons (W) in Your name, and do many miracles in Your name? (X) ' 23 Then I will announce to them, 'I never knew you! Depart from Me, you lawbreakers! ​
    There's nothing like empirical evidence to test a theory with.

    (Compare to Paul's words at Galatians 5 regarding the fruits of the Spirit, and 1 Corinthians 12-13 regarding individual Spiritual gifts, as well as greatest communal Spiritual gift, love.)
     
  12. juantoo3

    juantoo3 ʎʇıɹoɥʇnɐ uoıʇsǝnb

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    In the absolute sense you are probably correct. What do we have to subtantiate the rumors that the several books were composed by who they are said to be composed by?

    There is nothing definitive to substantiate the claim of authorship by Moses of the Pentateuch. Likewise many of the New Testament books are challenged by various scholars on similar grounds.

    This should not be interpreted as me saying the Bible is non-authoritative, but that that authority is dependent on degree of merit placed by the individual. Perhaps at the direction of an institution, or not. For my own part I take what merit I find within Scripture by heart and gut, validated by experience when and where applicable, and supported and refuted by various and sundry "human scholar authority" I ascribe to.

    In the end it is all a matter of faith...for or against.
     
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2009
  13. Bandit

    Bandit New Member

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    another good one is the test of frequency.



    You & Seattlegal still have good heads on your shoulders. Good to see it.
     
  14. juantoo3

    juantoo3 ʎʇıɹoɥʇnɐ uoıʇsǝnb

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    You are much too kind, Bandito! I have my flaws too.
     
  15. Joedjr

    Joedjr A Sometimes Member

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    Hi Thomas,
    So where do you suppose we should start? Use the somewhat non-authoritative words of Scripture or the somewhat non-authoritative words of men?
    Joe
     
  16. dauer

    dauer Active Member

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    I don't really understand why there's so much confusion about the nature of this board. If you're writing a paper for most any institution of higher learning and offer as evidence for your thesis something along the lines of "The other day I saw some lights in the sky and just knew that this was evidence the Elohim had returned from Rigel 7 to inhabit the bodies of the dead" it's not going to fly. When discussing, say, the religious views of early Shaker communities, your own beliefs about spirituality are less important than are the primary sources of and secondary sources on those communities. In the same way, the views of medieval Muslim philosophers probably aren't going to be very relevant to that conversation.

    That's a very specific example but it can be extended to more general examples. When discussing the views of the Eastern Orthodox Church on the afterlife, it's probably not going to be relevant what your favorite esotericist said about what happens when we die, that when you were 12 you had an OBE after huffing gasoline or that you think religion is a destructive shared neurosis.

    There are certainly many questions that aren't specific to one religion, but even in those cases I don't think it's terribly hard to figure out what might be relevant and, maybe just as importantly, how to present it, that is, cited to a representative of a particular perspective that is directly relevant to the topic at hand.

    This isn't a general spirituality board. That's up at the top of the forums.

    Did I get that about right, Thomas?

    -- Dauer

    edit: I recall reading an interview with Rabbi Art Green once. He used to head the rabbinical school for Reconstructionist Judaism (forget the name of it), later was a professor at Brandeis and currently runs the trans-denominational rabbinical school at Hebrew College. In addition to being a respected scholar of Jewish mysticism (and hasidism imparticular) he's a very liberal theologian in his own right. He explained in the interview that if he's teaching a class on early hasidism and a person turns in a beautiful composition of his own thoughts on spirituality that's going to get him a bad grade, even if he likes what the student had to say.
     
  17. Nick_A

    Nick_A Interfaith Forums

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    This is fine as long as the board is not meant to assert anything objectively substantial but rather the opinions of institutions which often appear needing to be in an institution. This is another reason I like Simone Weil. She learned to think and feel and was hated for it. They were happy to get rid of her in the "institution" she excelled in.

    The [FONT=Georgia, Times New Roman, Times, serif]Director of Career Placement, Ecole Normale Supérieure[/FONT] wrote:

    Yet Albert Camus wrote:

    [FONT=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]
    [/FONT]

    As long as people appreciate that there is no reason to think that sophisiticted BS sanctioned by "institutions" is by definition substantial, then there is no problem. Fortunately, there have been a minority like Simone that did realize it.
     
  18. juantoo3

    juantoo3 ʎʇıɹoɥʇnɐ uoıʇsǝnb

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    I think you are still missing the point though, Nick. Think about it...here, of all places, you are *encouraged* to quote Simone Weil where applicable and at your leisure without fear of reprisal.

    This board seems to me not with the intent to tear others down, but to build upon each other (even in disagreement!). Elsewhere, somebody might say "Simone Who?" She doesn't have a clue!

    Whereas here, provided it is pertinent to the discussion, you should be able to quote Miss Weil to your little heart's content... ;)
     
  19. Nick_A

    Nick_A Interfaith Forums

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    If you remember, a little while ago I began a thread on right speech and how worthwhile it would be to have a board based on the principles of right speech as understood by Buddhism and Christianity. It was rejected in favor of freedom of speech to "tear down". Now you seem to be saying that right speech should only respected or furthered in the company of "experts" of dubious value. In other situations, just give em hell.

    This may be how it is but what does it say about us and how easily we are conned by glitz?

    Simone, being aware of the "Beast," will be repulsive to the institutional mind regardless. Nothing will be built on since the intent here is to "educate" rather than being open. Right speech can only continue when minds are open. Yet open minds are a threat and why people must believe and "have faith" without the slightest idea of qualities of faith.

    It is a question of attitude. Is the intent to understand, to educate, or to tear down? Watch what happens.
     
  20. juantoo3

    juantoo3 ʎʇıɹoɥʇnɐ uoıʇsǝnb

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    Your concerns are valid, and I think this is something we are all attempting to address with this board.

    People are people, and people are going to do what they are going to do. I have for years attempted to instill what I felt was a predominantly scholastic approach when presenting anything I did. A difference between you and I is that I am not stuck on any one particular voice of authority...I can listen to any and none. Even with my attempts to remain for the most part scholarly, most people couldn't be bothered when responding (one notable exception being Victor when he and I addressed his pet thesis on the Pauline Conspiracy). Typically, for example, I may point to various supports to establish my position (such as the many references I provided to support my POV surrounding prehistoric humanity in the "ethical atheist" thread) only to be rebuffed by what amounted to essentially "yeah, so? I don't believe you." and nothing to support any of it. I've grown used to it, most people even here are intellectually lazy, and still others are intellectually confined and limited either by choice or design. There's nothing I can do about either. I can't light a fire under an intellectually lazy fanny. And the intellectually confined and limited are either too afraid or too "fundamentally certain" that they cannot or will not entertain any other POV.

    This board is an effort to be more scholastically honest and forthright...at least I want to believe it is an attempt in that direction. In spite of what you have to say, the sun does not rise and set in Simone Weil. And whether or not you appreciate those I hold in esteem or not, what is important to me is that *I* do. Another difference between us is that I have room in my heart and my view to allow you the same freedom and benefit to choose those authorities you prefer, without stooping to the need to denigrate those authorities and answers that disagree with me.

    Case in point: what say you of Chief Seattle? Or Chief Red Cloud? Or medicine man Black Elk? Care to mock me if I reference them as authorities?
     

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