Harmony

Discussion in 'Belief and Spirituality' started by wil, May 3, 2011.

  1. Vajradhara

    Vajradhara One of Many

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    could you elaborate on this and perhaps how it relates to what we're talking about? where did you take my statement from? what was it's context? which discussion do you think that i need, Wil?
     
    Last edited: May 5, 2011
  2. stuntpickle

    stuntpickle New Member

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    Dream,

    I want to first of all assure you that the subsequent post is not intended as a personal attack. I have to admit, however, that your post is fairly typical of what irritates me about discussions in general today: namely, that it is a succession of ineptitudes demonstrated with all the unwarranted bravado of a first-year grad student.

    Classic demonstration of the *** hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy. That they were Muslims does not necessarily mean that their faith was causal in any way. And yet, this is exactly what you are asserting--quite plainly at that. We can also assume that they were wearing pants and shoes, but this does not necessarily warrant a discussion of those facts. Before you lurch into more irrelevant discussion, please understand I was merely posing the question, and I don't even disagree with your conclusion, necessarily, because you haven't presented, thus far, any conclusion, but rather only an irrational, nonsensical mistake that poses no mechanisms for evaluation.


    My relationship with the Abrahamic religions primarily concerns various sacred texts rather than a anthropological description of extant cultural traditions within an ethnic group, as per some multicultural humanities course. To counter my statements about Jews being primarily concerned with law by reducing Judaism to festivals and funny hats is to surpass even the mistake of reduction you think I'm committing. There's a reason Harold Bloom calls Leviticus the most Jewish book in the Bible, and it isn't because he's an antisemite or beholden to misguided medievalists, but rather because the centrality of law is particularly characteristic of Judaism. This is, counter to your claims, not a hotly debated point. Your entire platform of criticism seems to derive from the bankrupted secularism that can only consider a faith in terms of it being a cultural artifact rather than a potent statement on behalf of God and His people.

    It is NOT subjective that there is a conspicuous lack of legal scrutiny in the Christian faith as exemplified by Paul's statement "for he who has loved another has fulfilled the law." And before you reiterate your straw man, let me remind you that I never said anything about Paul "founding" the Christian church, but rather "informing" it. But none of this really matters because....

    I'm asserting neither the superiority of Judaism nor Christianity, but rather I'm merely pointing out fundamentally opposed characteristics of the two that will necessarily complicate any reconciliation. Just because you have some prepared statements concerning the historicity of Paul's involvement in the early Christian church, it does not mean they are uniformly applicable to all conversations. And while you're at it, why don't you can the holier-than-thou admonishments about my pride, replete with their fortune-cookie sentimentality. The sort of implausible revision you're implying--Judaism without Law, Christianity without Paul--involves the disembowelment of both religions. Religion has a little something rattling in its throat, and it rattles with the foreboding of age--something that I doubt can be squared with the various chapter headings in your average, sanitary textbook.


    This whole section is completely irrelevant because I wasn't attempting to denigrate the pharisees. My original point was that religion A was very concerned with humanity's incapacity to mete out punishment and Religion B was still very concerned about how exactly humanity should mete out punishment. Not that one could tell from your post, but Religion B was Islam, not Judaism. I am not advocating any of the mentioned religions in this post. I am merely pointing out fundamental differences that complicate reconciliation.

    I get the feeling that you are just repeating a few rehearsed lines that belong to the only conversation you ever learned to have, but unfortunately, that conversation isn't this one.
     
  3. seattlegal

    seattlegal Mercuræn Buddhist

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    Methinks I'm going to study the principles of harmony by cooking a pot of soup--well seasoned with salt and thyme. I wonder how many flavors of "suchness" there is?
     
  4. Dream

    Dream New Member

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    I think it is refreshing when I meet someone willing to take the time for a full response. In the real world I've been told that I sometimes come across as a know-it-all. For that I apologize and don't know why it is. I think maybe I would be a know-it-all even if I knew nothing and even if I were very humble. Its like a birth mark or baked on bumper sticker.

    You mean that the fact that they are Muslim represents a correlation but not necessarily a causation, which I would agree with. Remember I said to keep in mind that there were many factors. I should have put up some kind of conclusion, so I'll try to work on that. '*** hoc ergo propter hoc' proves that Latin will never die.

    You are comparing our relative knowledge of Judaism without basis and upon the assumption that I know less. Your statement that Judaism is legalistic can be drawn out of any Baptist sunday school but is irrelevent to an actual discussion about actual Judaism, and yes it is relevant that they wear funny hats however much you desire to downplay it. Harold Bloom can have his cake without changing the ingredients. I was not suggesting that Leviticus is devoid of laws, but that Jewish laws are not legalistic in the Baptist sense. (I'm grasping for what you meant by legalistic.) The centrality of law is a caricature of Judaism, not a description; because 'Law' is first of all a poor translation of their term 'Torah'. 'Law' is the most confused term among those who have told me that Judaism is legalistic, so forgive me if I think you don't know what you are talking about. Your 'Relationship with the Abrahamic religions' can be whatever you think it is.


    Says you. Who do you think invented the phrase "He who has loved another has fulfilled the law?" It wasn't a Christian, and it was probably a century at least before Paul was born. On what basis do you claim that Paul informed the church? On the basis that he wrote a few letters filled with talmudic commentary? It remains subjective whether he is all the things you have claimed simply because he didn't come up with anything new.

    The two are already reconciled, and I cannot make heads or tales of Paul's involvement in the early Christian church. I was not talking about your pride but about the pride which I'm presuming separated the early christians and the early rabbinic communities. I presume it was pride, because I don't know. Its perfectly fair to say that my revision of history is implausible, because it is so far ahead of its time. I just thought I'd honor you by posting it and did not mean to disembowl anyone.

    Reconciliation has in my opinion got nothing to do with the arguments but is based on humility alone, and all religions that I know of teach humility. I am not sure I follow what you are saying about meting out of punishments. It sounds like a detail. I do not see how you took my perfectly good conversation about Pharisees as some kind of defensive posturing. It was informational not confrontational.
     
  5. luecy7

    luecy7 New Member

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    Thanks. Good to have a name for this. You will find a lot of this around here. A correlation is not necessarily causation. Ya hearing this Vaj ???
     
  6. stuntpickle

    stuntpickle New Member

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    You know, when I pointed out the fallacy it was not an invitation to expound or clarify. You cannot rationalize a faceplant into a pirouette. My point was that your entire approach was bad and that an entirely new one was needed. The point of argumentation is not to be right at all costs.

    You say that I am operating under the assumption that you know less about Judaism. Let me now assure you that is not the case. In fact, I am almost certain you know more. But I also feel certain that the marginal difference is constituted in tons of tertiary trash. Discussing this with you feels a little like discussing a novel with a proponent of Freudian literary criticism who will tell you all sorts of things about the id and the ego, various examples of genital-envy, and several examples of primal scenes from the author's life--all while never realizing the novel in question is, in fact, an unreliable narrative. I do not doubt you have collected vast amounts of trivia. What I do doubt is that you know how to know.

    The nasty habit you have of erecting straw man after straw man and continually stuffing words in my mouth gets tiresome quickly. I NEVER said "funny hats" were irrelevant, but that describing Judaism as constituted in festivals and funny hats was a more egregious reduction than describing it as being constituted in the law. Why would you "[suggest]...that Jewish laws are not legalistic in the Baptist sense," if I never said they were? The problem isn't that you're ignorant of Judaism, but of how to have a conversation.

    When I used the word "legalistic" I meant of/pertaining to a formal legal structure. I even went so far as to explicitly state that I did not mean it in a pejorative sense. But merely having a codified structure present doesn't adequately describe the meticulous detail in which that structure is examined and repeated (God to Moses to the Israelites) throughout the Pentateuch. It verges on fetishism. And here again, I don't mean "fetishism" in a pejorative sense. My concern is largely with the stylistic novelty of it, rather than any moral judgement you wrongly infer.

    The funny thing about the expression "says you" is that it implies you actually heard something I said, which seems counter to your demonstrations otherwise. Imagine for a moment that, instead of commenting on the Bible, I had been commenting on Hamlet's to-be soliloquy. Can you not see how it is irrelevant to then, in the way of criticism, expound on the historical contingencies of Danish succession crises, and explain that because of primogeniture Hamlet's older brother Sam was actually set to inherit the throne, and mention that, after all, the to-be soliloquy was actually first spoken a century earlier by a Swede named Gunter? You have failed in the primary hermeneutic requirement in approaching ANY sacred text, namely treating it as a self-contained expression. You see, when attempting to view the New Testament from a Christian perspective not only is it unnecessary to begin your reading with loads of critical baggage, but it is incorrect.

    You seem so desperate to demonstrate that you know something--anything--that you just rattle off a bunch of stuff regardless of how unrelated it is. The more you talk, the more I am reminded of Nabokov's quote about "the fraudulent mediocrity, whose only treasure is the ignorance he hides like a bone."

    Sorry, but that's the way I see it.
     
  7. Snoopy

    Snoopy Active Member

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    Not two. :)
     
  8. wil

    wil UNeyeR1 Moderator

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    luv you guys....

    You know someday I might get to the unwarranted bravado of a first year grad student...

    After I get my GED, and find the time to attend and graduate from a four year Uni...

    Until then, I'll live in bliss spawning discussion I hope someday to understand.
     
  9. seattlegal

    seattlegal Mercuræn Buddhist

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    Not empty :D

    [​IMG]
     
  10. NiceCupOfTea

    NiceCupOfTea Pathetic earthlings

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    we should all smoke some good weed, or should that be bad weed ?

    that ought to promote some harmony :)
     
  11. Vajradhara

    Vajradhara One of Many

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    good weed. bad weed is bad. good weed is good. good is gooder than bad. ipso facto we consume good weed.
     
  12. Dream

    Dream New Member

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    Stuntpickle,

    You have pointed out the straw man fallacy which I appreciate, but do you actually think I'd enjoy putting words in your mouth? No, I don't enjoy that. If you really thought that I enjoyed it you wouldn't have pointed it out. If you thought I wanted to appear to be right at all costs, then you wouldn't have bothered to respond.

    I pointed out that I was grasping at what you meant by legalistic, and I also explained how I'd heard the term used before. It usually refers to someone who is obsessed with rules beyond all reason. "relating to, or exhibiting strict adherence to the law, esp to the letter of the law rather than its spirit" Most people would assume that was what you meant, but I checked you.

    Provoking you wasn't my intention. I'm not sure how you can be certain that any knowledge you are unaware of is tertiary and marginal. You called me earlier the equivalent of a 1st year graduate student and now I've been demoted. Its funny but I actually did have a prof who I think used some strange criticism on the English poets, which made it less than interesting for me. That was back in community college, and I never went back. So according to you my education has been for naught? It isn't a big insult, and if I were an academic we wouldn't be having this conversation.

    Here I understand what you are talking about, and I directly disagreed and disagree. This does not reflect the actual. It is misinformed and derogatory, and I explained why that is though I can understand why you overlooked my comment what with all the straw men flailing about. Clearly you were ready to set them on fire.

    This was not meant to be provocative, and I read every word. With 'Says you' I meant to show absolute disagreement with what you said was not subjective. I should have chosen less inflammatory words, and I did not mean to disrespect your person.

    Ok, but I was not confining my comments to a purely modern Christian perspective since we were talking about historical perspectives involving questions about Paul and Pharisees. What is the point of that confinement when discussing history?

    Ooh.
     
  13. seattlegal

    seattlegal Mercuræn Buddhist

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    wil, see this thread:

    http://www.interfaith.org/forum/tao-te-ching-part-1-a-13616.html

    See the pink spot in the blue paint and the blue spot in the pink paint? When we get an idea of harmony, it contains within it the idea of disharmony. When we get an idea of disharmony, it contains within it the idea of harmony. All of it is still paint.

    Some may say, "but there is no paint!" to which I would say,

    [​IMG]

    SPLAT! :p
     
  14. Saltmeister

    Saltmeister The Dangerous Dinner

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    "Fundamental" is a very strong word and I don't believe from what I have learnt about Judaism that the "legalism" is really so strong to the point that it becomes "fundamental." I think it may be a misunderstanding of the way the Jewish thought system works.

    I think the idea that Judaism is "legalistic" just because it revolves around a "Law System" is a very simplistic view. Actually, I would like to argue that a religion without a Law System can become legalistic just as easily. Look, for example, what has happened to Christianity. Christianity may not have a Law System and for that reason it cannot be legalistic with regard to a Law System, but that doesn't mean it can't be legalistic.

    Consider, for example, how fragmented Christianity has become over the last 2,000 years with different groups arguing and splitting off over theological disputes and differences. People who disagree with the mainstream, orthodox or established position are sidelined, condemned, demonised and expelled as heretics and worse -- labelled as followers of the devil.

    What drives these internal conflicts has always been the question of "what is truth?" The reason why people cannot agree is because they have different interpretations. Their interpretations are mutually contradictory and the contradiction creates a feeling of a crisis. When there is a crisis there is a fear that the "truth" has been lost and this provokes people to engage in a struggle to restore the "truth."

    The Christian Gospel was supposed to be powerful and this belief in the power of the Gospel provoked people into a frenzy of fear that somehow the truth was lost in the midst of a crisis of theological disagreement.

    Jesus said "love your neighbour as yourself." If that was the purpose of the Law and God was satisfied with that, then the last 2,000 years of theological bickering was futile and pointless. If the Pharisees nitpicked on unimportant concepts, then Christians aren't much better because they have repeated that same sin.

    Legalism isn't about whether you have a Law System or not. It's how you approach your thought system that can make it legalistic. Jews call their 613 commandments a Law System, but they have found a way to avoid "legalism." Christians don't call their theology a "Law System," but it has certainly been the cause of much bickering. Theology has become a "law unto itself." Ultimately, "law" is just a word. "Law system" and "theology" are just thought systems by which you separate "right" from "wrong."

    It is important to understand that what qualifies as "legalism" can be quite subjective, just like what qualifies as "idolatry" is subjective.

    As an outside observer looking into a religious community whose tradition you don't understand, you may identify certain behaviours as "legalistic" or "idolatrous" simply because they give so much devotion and attention to it. To really be sure, however, you have to go into that community, ask the people and find out how they think. You have to find out how they see their own tradition and how their people relate to each other on religious matters. Are they humble and gentle towards each other?

    Corporal Jake Sully infiltrates the Na'vi in James Cameron's Avatar and learns their culture inside out. What he initially thinks is a primitive tribal community is actually much more complex.

    What I regard as legalism is when you are arrogant, self-righteous, dogmatic and judgmental on the basis that they do not conform to your chosen thought system. People can still be nice and understanding despite the failure of others to conform. There is nothing to suggest that this cannot happen in Judaism even though it is based on a Law System.

    Jesus said "love your neighbour, don't judge your neighbour, be humble." A prominent Pharisee named Hillel in Second Temple Judaism said the same thing. Christians base their religion around the life, death and resurrection of Jesus and on the emergence of early church communities after his death. Jews base their religion on the Hillel's legacy during the emergence and consolidation of rabbinic Judaism after the catastrophic destruction of the Second Temple.

    Here's a comparison:

    1. Being Judgmental
    Hillel: "judge not your fellow man until you yourself come into his place" (M. Abot 2:5)
    Jesus: "do not judge, and you will not be judged" (Luke 6:37)

    2. Humility and Greatness
    Hillel: "My humility is my exaltation; my exaltation is my humility"
    Jesus: "For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted." (Luke 14:11)

    3. Loving your Neighbour
    Hillel: "What is hateful to you do not do to your neighbor; this is the whole Law; the rest is commentary!"
    Jesus: "So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets" (Matthew 7:12)

    What people often regard as "Jewish law" is actually "Jewish halakha" and the Hebrew word "halakha" means something like "way of walking." Jews think in terms of laws, but I believe they also think in terms of something else -- they think in terms of a path or journey. The arabic word "shariah" has a similar meaning.

    It's like an extra layer in Judaism. There is "the Law" but there is also "the way" of following the Law. In John 14:6, Jesus says "I am the way, the truth and the life. Nobody comes to the Father except through me." Many Christians assume that because this is in the Gospel of John, the Gospel of John is in the New Testament Canon and the NT Canon is the sacred text of Christianity that following "the way" means being a Christian.

    Jesus doesn't say anything about "the way" being associated with a Gospel of John and the NT Canon and with being a Christian. Consider this:

    Matthew 5:17-18: Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.

    Heaven and earth have not disappeared, so the Law is still in effect. If by saying "I am the way" Jesus is really saying, "do what I say, do what I do" -- to follow the "Hillelite ethics" -- love your neighbour, judge not, be humble -- then Judaism is closer to "the way" then we think. It's because Jewish halakha, I assume, is "the way" to the "the Law." What Jesus taught was probably something similar to that.

    I think on the Christian side, we would need to revise our understanding of "legalism," "the way" of Jesus and how people can avoid legalism both in a Law System and also in theology.

    A few questions are in order. 1) what would we aim to achieve by reconciliation and 2) what would be your objections to reconciliation?

    I know that a lot of people oppose the idea of "ecumenism" because it dilutes a tradition and compromises its mission/goals. I would agree that many world religions have a mission and that people should not compromise that mission. However, I do not believe that having different missions means there can't be some level of integration and assimilation.

    In Romans 11, Paul talks about two olive trees and how branches from the wild olive tree will be grafted into the other. This suggests that there will be some kind of integration and assimilation process in the future. The religion of the cultivated olive tree will retain its identity during that process. Its mission and goals will not be diluted or compromised during that process.
     
  15. Saltmeister

    Saltmeister The Dangerous Dinner

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    Actually, I don't quite agree. If humanity cannot be trusted to be agents of justice, God would be more involved in the affairs of this world.

    If we can't be trusted, Jesus would not have taught "love your neighbour, do not judge your neighbour, the exalted ones will be humbled, first will be last."

    What's the point of teaching us something to solve a problem we couldn't possibly solve? Was Jesus just trying to be fancy?

    I think the point was that we are agents of justice. The reason why there was injustice in that society was because people were insensitive and were blind followers of ideology, lacking understanding and critical thinking. They were judgmental, prejudiced and legalistic followers of the Law. If only they learnt how to love their neighbour, not judge, to be gentle and humble, justice would return and increase.

    It's not because we're incapable, but because we haven't tried hard enough.
     
  16. wil

    wil UNeyeR1 Moderator

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    I contemplate life on the farm, living in harmony, but then the bug is eaten by the chicken which to the bug ain't so much, but the chicken...

    And then the rooster mounts the hen, clawing into those favored positions where most of the feathers are gone and with his beak grabbing the back of her neck and twisting it around so she doesn't run anymore....splat?

    And then she lays the egg, to create her brood, and the farmer comes through and grabs a bunch of them as she and her housemates cackle, he goes in and breaks them, blends them with garlic and veggies puts them in a hot skillet...that he has just removed parts of the pig....

    splat...
     
  17. Saltmeister

    Saltmeister The Dangerous Dinner

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    Rabbinic Judaism from the very start was an intellectual tradition because it was based on the tradition of the Pharisees and the Pharisees were the intellectuals of Judaism. At the top of the pyramid, the Pharisees engaged themselves in rigorous debate and that is how they got their Talmud. I think that's why when Judaism is "approached properly," it's well thought out.

    Christianity on the other hand was founded on something simplistic. Jesus didn't recruit "intellectuals" as followers. He went straight to the uneducated underclass. As a result, what we call "Christianity" is based on something "dumbed down." This is why we get so many straw men in Christianity.

    This "dumbing down" is a characteristic of Christianity throughout the 2,000 years. Christians didn't realise that the opening passage of the Gospel of John was based on ideas proposed by Philo of Alexandria and his concept of the Logos. They forgot that much of what we regard as "Christian" comes from Hellenism. Christians forgot their "Greek roots." This is how we got the Nicaean doctrine of the Trinity. It was the result of Christians not examining the historical roots of their faith. If we realised that many of our ideas are a derivative of Hellenism and the ideas of Philo, we probably wouldn't now believe in a triune God, because the Logos of the triune God is not the Logos of Philo. But the Gospel of John is more likely to be talking about the Logos of Philo than the idea of a triune God that came later.

    The Orthodox Church declared the Nazarenes as heretics some time around the third and fourth century. They thought that because the Nazarenes continued to follow "the law" that they had a distorted concept of Christianity. I think the Nazarenes were actually doing the right thing because following "the law" and having a Law System was never inherently wrong. It was how you did it. Because the Nazarenes were followers of "the Way" that Jesus taught, their tradition was "the Way" to follow "the Law," just like Jewish halakha in rabbinic Judaism was "the way" to follow "the law." The chief difference between the Nazarenes and the Rabbinic Jews was that the Rabbinic Jews believed in an Oral Torah and followed the rabbis. The Nazarenes didn't and they followed Jesus.

    The Orthodox Christians were too stupid to properly understand the relationship between "the way" and the Law.

    We've had dozens and dozens of creeds, hundreds of arguments over what is actually "fundamental" to Christianity. A religion that was supposed to be "the answer" ends up opening up more questions.

    This search for what is "fundamental," this search for some simple way of explaining what Christianity is and isn't is what divides Christians most. There has been so much bickering over whether we like a particular explanation or not.

    People have attempted, over and over again, to simplify Christianity. Christianity has been "oversimplified" a hundred times in our search for "the true Christianity." When someone disagrees on theology or thinks their church leaders are missing the point, they start a new church. Yet, so many people have failed to realise that they are probably nitpicking and bickering over irrelevant and unimportant details.

    Because Judaism was "intellectual," it avoided a lot of this unnecessary bickering and nitpicking. Intellectualism led to thoughtfulness. Simplicity led to thoughtlessness. It's quite likely that Judaism was right most of the time, whereas a lot of the time, Christians were wrong.

    The intellectualism of Judaism might seem like "overthinking" to us, but the simplicity of Christianity is the reason why Christianity is what I might call an "undisciplined rabble," that has splintered into hundreds and perhaps thousands of fragments -- not over how to follow a Law System, but the theology of how we attain salvation and whether or not Jesus is God.
     
  18. stuntpickle

    stuntpickle New Member

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    You know, going through line by line and pointing out fallacies and non-sequiturs in your posts is becoming an exasperating exercise (I even ran out of steam half way through the last one). Fortunately, this section of your post wonderfully encapsulates the problem. According to you, we were discussing "historical perspectives involving questions about Paul and Pharisees." Not only is this incorrect, but it is laughably absurd.

    Do you even know what I was saying? Did you even read my first post? I was making the point that two faiths hold seemingly contradictory viewpoints that are not easily reconciled. This isn't about the historicity of those viewpoints but the viewpoints themselves. The conversation I was having about Paul and the pharisees involved not "historical perspectives" but "narrative perspectives." As per my original point, Paul is only important insofar as Christians believe him to be. If we are to consider reconciling belief systems, among them being Christianity, we must *necessarily* "confine" our discussion, to some degree, to what Christians believe. It doesn't matter if those beliefs conform to the historical record. Unless, of course, your entire point is that Christianity is only a valid faith insofar as it conforms to the historical record, in which case the problem is far worse than I originally thought. You see (or maybe you don't), Christianity isn't primarily a rational or historical system of thought.

    The major idea of the Hebrews is that God was unlike any of the various genii that were popularly thought to be inherent in geography or naturally occurring phenomena in the ancient world, but rather He was completely distinct (apart) from those naturally occurring phenomena. This was for the time pretty revolutionary, and it had a profound impact on the rest of history. Even from a secular viewpoint, it's a major development in the human conceptualization of reality, as it is fundamental to our understanding of a "system"--something that must necessarily prefigure our understanding of, say, a SOLAR system. I think someone said it better, in a subsequent post, than I originally did when they called Judaism intellectual or academic.

    Christianity, on the other hand, is altogether unlike Judaism in this respect. Christianity does not seek to meticulously examine God in respect to an intellectual or historical tradition. It is not a system of thought that is primarily intellectual, rational, or historical, but rather aesthetic. Judaism is fundamentally intellectual and rooted in the examination of details, whereas Christianity is fundamentally artistic and rooted in the establishment of a "big picture." It's similar to the difference between Plato and Shakespeare, and I do not mean to say Shakespeare is superior to Plato or vice-versa. They are simply different approaches. The difficulty that arises in discussions between the two is that one prefers to discern the good through a rigorous examination and another thinks it is more easily discernible through literary figuration.

    But all you want to talk about, or are even possibly capable of talking about, is whether Christianity is historically accurate, which is, incidentally, in light of our conversation, an unnecessary complication.
     
  19. stuntpickle

    stuntpickle New Member

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    You know, Salt, what I find curious about statements such as yours is how in an attempt to apprehend the historical difficulties you horribly mis-characterize history.

    You imply that the Great Schism is somehow a result of Christians "dumbing-down" their borrowed theology, or not fully comprehending it, or not having a tradition sufficient to offer a good understanding. Are you not aware that one of the MAJOR reasons for the Great Schism was that the Roman see was proposed as an ultimate arbiter in disagreements? The Great Schism didn't occur merely because the various bishops couldn't agree on the divinity of Jesus, but because it proposed major organizational changes in the distribution of power within the church, in which the western half would have primacy over the eastern half. Surely, you can understand why the eastern half wouldn't be excited about this. My point is that where you see an insufficient capacity to discern the true complexity of theological issues, I, along with most historians see, a practical political struggle.

    You talk about how these non-intellectual Christians necessarily splintered into various petty factions, but the funny part is you are not only mistaken but mistaken in a horribly ironic way that even undercuts your capacity as a speaker. Consider the development of Protestantism. Protestantism is in part a criticism of a church that had grown into a largely secular institution that constituted the largest property owner in all of Europe and that had largely grown concerned over the investiture of bishops who would ultimately administer all the various estates and taxes owed to the church. Of course, the Reformation didn't only result in Protestantism, but also a reformist Papacy. But even more than this, the Reformation constituted the liberalization of theology out of the hands of a priestly oligarchy. Consider that Anne Boleyn was considered a heretic because she displayed in her room, where the servants could see, an English Bible. And now consider that, today, what is often considered the definitive Christian text is, in fact, an English Bible.

    The tendency toward liberalization in Christianity that you see as lamentable is not merely the liberalization of theological authority, but it is ultimately the liberalization of political authority. Implicit in Dante's choice of the vernacular is the statement that his work was not for the few, just as it was implicit in the Renaissance that ancient Greek and Roman texts and works of art were not merely for a priestly class. This non-intellectual revolution continued until you had that definitive statement of all Western idiocy: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness."

    You see, where you see a "rabble" capable only of bickering and infighting, I, along with most historians, see an incubator that was busy cooking-up the great cultural and military hegemons of recent history. Of course, Christianity in isolation is not enough to explain this. If you're interested check out Jared Diamond's Pulitzer-winning "Guns, Germs, and Steel." But it is precisely the liberalization of power, both theological and political, into the hands of your derided "underclasses" that makes possible the story of Western Civilization, which, in turn, makes possible the opportunity for two otherwise unimportant yahoos to discuss it on an internet forum.
     
  20. Thomas

    Thomas Administrator Admin

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    Hi Saltmeister —
    OK — but surely that's neither the origin nor source of Judaism as such, is it? Would you not say that's the orthodox commentary on the doctrine? What about Abraham, Isaac and Jacob ... were they intellectuals? Moses?

    I think that's on a whole raft of points:
    The idea that the disciples were illiterate fishermen can be challenged as 'spin' I think ... John, from internal evidence, was by no means illiterate, nor can we make such assumptions about the others.

    But I would agree that the core doctrine (as indeed are all core doctrines) is quite simple.

    Then we look at Scripture ... only Mark, in terms of cultural context etc, can be termed 'simple' — the theology and metaphysics of the other texts are luminous to the extent that cultural markers don't really apply.

    The Fathers from the 1st century on were, almost to a man, heavyweight philosophers schooled in the Hellenic Tradition but not constrained within the Hellenic philosophical horizon — they rewrote the book on philosophy, and the whole notion of 'the person' as an autonomous being was born out of the Christian intellectual tradition.

    I'll acknowledge that Middle and Late Medieval Europe threw up a number of questions, but more and more history is revealing these ages to be less 'Dark' than we have been led to assume.

    Remember also the emergence of the Monastic Orders and the schools of spirituality, the Craft Guilds, the Age of Chivalry, the various 'renaissances', the establishment of universities, etc...

    So I would ask you to evidence this 'dumbing down' as you see it?

    The 'dumbing down' of Christianity, it seems to me, occurs relatively recently with the proliferation of American denominations that treat religion as a commodity to be marketed like anything else.

    Remember that Philo got his ideas from rubbing shoulders with the Greeks, he typifies the Hellenisation of Hebrew ideas, so the idea of 'Logos' cannot be ascribed to him alone.

    Christianity stepped out of the mythopoeic horizon of Judaism on the principle that its theology can be presented logically, rationally and reasonably to the world — the earliest Fathers, Justin for example, or Origen, argued with both Jewish and Gentile worlds on their own terms.

    Christianity interrogated its ideas using the Hellenic philosophical model, thus lifting the ideas clear of the baggage of the Hebrew cultural heritage, and thus uncovering their universality.

    Thus the Christian message transcended both ... John's Gospel refers to the Logos (evident in Plato and the Stoics), but John's Gospel also refers to contemporary Hebrew theological ideas, the opening reflects Genesis (and not, as long assumed, gnostic, nor, as long assumed, was Hebrew thought either Pharisee or Sadducee or Essene).

    I think that's you 'straw manning' — any religion is about doing it, not knowing its history.

    And the concept of the Logos in John is rooted in Christ, and the idea of the Incarnation ... not founded on Philo, nor Hellenic notions of the Logos.

    Sorry, but I think that's totally wrong. Surely, had the Fathers not examined their monotheistic roots, they would have adopted an easier and more comfortable Hellenic tritheism, rather than a Trinitarian doctrine that is firmly rooted in, founded on, and argued from, Scripture. Or they would have adopted the abstract model of deity, as 'The Good' above all ... ?

    The Fathers of Nicea didn't 'make it up' round the table, any more than Tertullian, a hundred years earlier, pulled the term 'Trinity' out of thin air and inventerd a whole ideology around it.

    The Doctrine of the Trinity is a revealed doctrine, implicitly (or if you like, esoterically) transmitted through the Words and Deeds of Christ ... no other source is referenced for its formation, no other argument offered for its acceptance ... it's as alien to Hellenic thought as it is to Hebrew, in fact moreso.

    No, the Logos of John is Christ, not Philo.

    But from here on in your post, I think your argument is founded more on presumptions and polemic, than any historical or factual evidence? Certainly, if you want a list of 'Christian intellectuals' that rather undoes your basic premise, I can start one ...

    We should start with the Catechetical Schools in Antioch and Alexandria...

    God bless,

    Thomas
     

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