Christianity - a pick and choose faith?

iBrian

Peace, Love and Unity
Veteran Member
Messages
6,542
Reaction score
30
Points
48
Location
Scotland
There's a general argument that Christian conservatives are misguided in their insistence on picking and choosing those part of the Bible most personally and culturally relevant - at the expense of the rest.

However, as the recent controversy over homosexuality in the Anglican Church suggests, there's a danger that Liberal Christianity is more concerned with picking and choosing those part of the Bible most personally and culturally relevant - at the expense of the rest.

In short, both extremes of the Christian spectrum can be accused of the same thing - of a blinkered approach to faith that narrows the range of Christian belief into oversimplified cultural niches.

Or is this even a fair comparison in the first place?

The eruptions occuring within the Anglican Church are pivoted upon this entire argument - how much of scripture truly needs paying attention to? And if some is to be pushed aside, then at what point is scripture no longer pushed aside? In short - how much of the Bible is actually relevant to belief?

I'd like to get an idea of the personal perceptions of the Christian members here, and see to what extent they feel that:

a) They themselves are guilty of a "pick and choose" approach to scripture, and,

b) That others are more guilty of a "pick and choose" approach to scripture.
 
I guess I can answer here - while I consider myself somewhat of a searcher in the spiritual realm, I was raised as a Christian and generally identify within that paradigm, although some would probably like to heave me out.:)

It is interesting that I was in a disucssion on a topic very similar to this just a few days ago on another forum, where we were talking about whether the language in the Bible is intended to be taken literally or figuratively. This is what I said over there; I think it applies here as well:

There is always an interpretation of some kind going on, as well as a picking and choosing of which parts of those scriptures to be not only taken literally, but subscribed to at all. For example, many of the fundamentalist Christians I know personally are very adamant that those passages outlining the subservient position of women be taken literally. At the same time, many of them feel that the Song of Solomon shouldn't be in the Bible at all, much less be taken literally. And I don't think I know any fundamentalists who would take the Biblical passages approving of the keeping of slaves literally. Similarly, they would not take literally the parts about "if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off....And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cats it from thee;..." (Matthew 18:8-9).

So, there is interpreting going on, no matter what particular believers say or believe.

I stand by this, but I believe that it is probably true in all religious traditions, not just within Christianity - although in some of those traditions it is not nearly as much of an issue, as not all traditions are nearly as dogmatic as some strains of Christianity seem to be.

So, yes, I do pick and choose, but probably no more and no less than anyone else. I don't find anything wrong with that, because I am not a Biblical literalist. I believe that everyone picks and chooses from the spiritual and philosophical palatte avaliable to them, as well as from social and political strains, to put together a belief system that works for them.

my two cents
 
Li'l Miss....your 2 cents are worth a lot!!!!

I agree with you, for the most part.....the bible has been translated hundreds of times, and sometimes just dumbed down to what has been called everyday language. How anyone can take it completely literaly is beyond my comprehension. There have been many instances where scholers have debated the meaning of a word as having been translated correctly from the usage and dialect of the time. And these variances can completely change meaning of passages.
For me, personally, the Old Testament is mainly a history book, as Christ stated that everything that came before Him was basically done and in the past. The Sermon on the Mount is the bases of the rules of conduct I follow, over the Ten Commandments.
 
It is true that translation is a whole separate kettle of fish that bears on the question of what a person accepts or does not accept from the Bible and from various forms of Christian dogma (because, of course, there isn't one Christian dogma, but many), while also being a subject all on its own.

I took a Biblical Literature class that focused on the Book of Acts while I was at university. The professor was fluent in both Greek and Latin, and was at least passingly conversant with Aramaic as well, and he often went off into side lectures about the different possible meanings of a particular word in the text. It was amazing to me how the way in which a particular translator chose from among possible translations of single word could completely change the meaning of the passage.
 
It is certainly a pick and chose religion. There are dozens of Biblical ideas not used by Christianity, such as slavery, marrying your rapist, and stoning your wife if she was not a virgin on her wedding night.
 
many ppl have thier own idea of god and what the bible means to them even the churches have changed the meaning and translation to benifit the masses ,in fact mainstream religions are not mainstream at all as most ppl in the church have different ideas and beliefs on god and the bible
 
Essentially, as belief is structured around interpretation of scripture, then any such belief will be open to the accusation of "pick and choose".

Different doctrinal elements have a different focus in different groups. For example, in Christianity, each denomination has it's differing position on different key areas of scriptural interpretation. Each will claim support from scriptural elements, but ultimately realies on acceptance of a particular interpretation, often at the expense of others.
 
It is certainly a pick and chose religion. There are dozens of Biblical ideas not used by Christianity, such as slavery, marrying your rapist, and stoning your wife if she was not a virgin on her wedding night.

Most of what is "picked and chosen" is in the "Old Testament." It's pretty clear that all 613 mitzvot of the TANAKH are not binding upon Christians; we can eat pork and other foods, we can wear mixed fabrics, and do many other things that Jews, to this day, are still not supposed to be doing. Gentiles have had, historically, only seven mitzvot which they were required to follow. Refrain from drinking the blood of animals, idol worship, sexual morality, etc. Specific nuances of Jewish law have never been binding. Part of Christ's coming, death, and resurrection was a liberation from the heavy yoke of the law.

And yes, much of the TANAKH is history. Some things were peculiar to Jewish culture at the time, such as breaking the bride's hymen and allowing the bloodstain to soak into a woolen cloth for proof of virginity. Even Jews don't do that today. Likewise, things specific to Temple worship ceased with the destruction of the temple; not even the most orthodox of Jews will make a ritual sacrifice for sin.
 
Originally posted by DeaconJustin
Gentiles have had, historically, only seven mitzvot which they were required to follow.

Ah, yes. The seven Noachide laws. If anybody's interested, I could try to find a link that specifies what the Noachide laws are (I'm definite on only three: no idolitry, no adultry or incest, and the #1 Noachide law, no murder.)

Phyllis Sidhe_Uaine
 
the seven laws are, in no particular order:

1) to establish courts of justice;
2) not to commit blasphemy;
3) not to commit [biblical] idolatry;
4) not to commit incest and adultery;
5) not to commit bloodshed;
6) not to commit robbery;
7) not to eat flesh cut from a living animal.

these are the only laws binding on everyone. as for anything else from the other 606 laws, that is entirely up to the person, but why would anyone bother?

Specific nuances of Jewish law have never been binding.
they are *all* still binding on jews, though.

Part of Christ's coming, death, and resurrection was a liberation from the heavy yoke of the law.
or at least was presented as such for those who wanted to extend the new faith outside the jewish community - describing jewish life as lived under the "heavy yoke of the law" is tendentious in the extreme, but nothing new in christian polemic. yes, the 613 are hard work, in much the same way that having a family, or making your partner/spouse happy is hard work.

Some things were peculiar to Jewish culture at the time, such as breaking the bride's hymen and allowing the bloodstain to soak into a woolen cloth for proof of virginity.
ah, finally we find something that people are prepared to think we invented - and it's something nasty. hah. actually, this is far from unique to jews. and, yes, "even jews" don't do that today, as there are a) far more reliable ways of telling and b) the Talmud described how people would get round it.

Likewise, things specific to Temple worship ceased with the destruction of the temple; not even the most orthodox of Jews will make a ritual sacrifice for sin.
in fact, this is not exactly the case. we may not actually physically perform sacrifices any more, but we certainly still have the obligations and discharge them through specific ritual observances. for example, the commandment to gaze upon the lighting of the Temple menorah is fulfilled by reading the psalm "lamnasseyah bin'ginoth". and the entire Temple service for the sin-offering is preserved within the yom kippur service. put it this way - we have preserved the knowledge against the day that the Temple is rebuilt, may it come soon in our time.

b'shalom

bananabrain
 
bannanabrain said:
ah, finally we find something that people are prepared to think we invented - and it's something nasty. hah. actually, this is far from unique to jews. and, yes, "even jews" don't do that today, as there are a) far more reliable ways of telling and b) the Talmud described how people would get round it.

Actually, BB, it was the only example of a "lapsed" practise that came readily to my mind when I wrote the post; I didn't choose it because I thought it was nasty or uncouth or something. I think you read more into it than was there to begin with; I certainly don't have an axe to grind with Jews. And yes, I'm aware that it wasn't something done only by Jews; in fact, it's still done in parts of Africa and in the Middle East, if I'm not off my rocker.

bannanabrain said:
or at least was presented as such for those who wanted to extend the new faith outside the jewish community - describing jewish life as lived under the "heavy yoke of the law" is tendentious in the extreme, but nothing new in christian polemic.
yes, the 613 are hard work, in much the same way that having a family, or making your partner/spouse happy is hard work.

Suppose we'll just have to leave that as a matter of opinion.
 
I think you have to pick and choose. Divinely inspired as it may be, the Bible is also the product of a sexist, semi-barbaric, pre-scientific culture. There are many biblical laws we choose not to hold to today. Certainly we wouldn't want to have slaves or sell our daughters into slavery. I am PCUSA and I applaud the decision to ordain gays and lesbians. I do not think religion should be the excuse for sexual oppression.
\











There's a general argument that Christian conservatives are misguided in their insistence on picking and choosing those part of the Bible most personally and culturally relevant - at the expense of the rest.

However, as the recent controversy over homosexuality in the Anglican Church suggests, there's a danger that Liberal Christianity is more concerned with picking and choosing those part of the Bible most personally and culturally relevant - at the expense of the rest.

In short, both extremes of the Christian spectrum can be accused of the same thing - of a blinkered approach to faith that narrows the range of Christian belief into oversimplified cultural niches.

Or is this even a fair comparison in the first place?

The eruptions occuring within the Anglican Church are pivoted upon this entire argument - how much of scripture truly needs paying attention to? And if some is to be pushed aside, then at what point is scripture no longer pushed aside? In short - how much of the Bible is actually relevant to belief?

I'd like to get an idea of the personal perceptions of the Christian members here, and see to what extent they feel that:

a) They themselves are guilty of a "pick and choose" approach to scripture, and,

b) That others are more guilty of a "pick and choose" approach to scripture.
There's a general argument that Christian conservatives are misguided in their insistence on picking and choosing those part of the Bible most personally and culturally relevant - at the expense of the rest.

However, as the recent controversy over homosexuality in the Anglican Church suggests, there's a danger that Liberal Christianity is more concerned with picking and choosing those part of the Bible most personally and culturally relevant - at the expense of the rest.

In short, both extremes of the Christian spectrum can be accused of the same thing - of a blinkered approach to faith that narrows the range of Christian belief into oversimplified cultural niches.

Or is this even a fair comparison in the first place?

The eruptions occuring within the Anglican Church are pivoted upon this entire argument - how much of scripture truly needs paying attention to? And if some is to be pushed aside, then at what point is scripture no longer pushed aside? In short - how much of the Bible is actually relevant to belief?

I'd like to get an idea of the personal perceptions of the Christian members here, and see to what extent they feel that:

a) They themselves are guilty of a "pick and choose" approach to scripture, and,

b) That others are more guilty of a "pick and choose" approach to scripture.

k yu have to pick and choose. Divinely inspired as it may be, the Bible was
 
I think you have to pick and choose. Divinely inspired as it may be, the Bible is also the product of a sexist, semi-barbaric, pre-scientific culture. There are many biblical laws we choose not to hold to today. Certainly we wouldn't want to have slaves or sell our daughters into slavery. I am PCUSA and I applaud the decision to ordain gays and lesbians. I do not think religion should be the excuse for sexual oppression.
I think if you take the Bible to be "God's Word" then your argument becomes void. One must comply with the creator's wishes if one wished to gain entry into heaven. I believe the Torah is quite clear about that. It is only when the laws change from the creator can we change the orders to be done. LGBT is not a societally benefitting notion. encouraging it doesn't help a society to grow or strengthen. The Laws of God are for helping our society to grow and become better/more efficient. Do I agree with stoning a LGBT? No, God has granted me a new law from a different Prophet whose example shows separation, but not condemnation. Moreso, we must also remember the action is what is considered the sin, not the feeling.
 
There's a general argument that Christian conservatives are misguided in their insistence on picking and choosing those part of the Bible most personally and culturally relevant - at the expense of the rest.

However, as the recent controversy over homosexuality in the Anglican Church suggests, there's a danger that Liberal Christianity is more concerned with picking and choosing those part of the Bible most personally and culturally relevant - at the expense of the rest.

In short, both extremes of the Christian spectrum can be accused of the same thing - of a blinkered approach to faith that narrows the range of Christian belief into oversimplified cultural niches.

Or is this even a fair comparison in the first place?

The eruptions occuring within the Anglican Church are pivoted upon this entire argument - how much of scripture truly needs paying attention to? And if some is to be pushed aside, then at what point is scripture no longer pushed aside? In short - how much of the Bible is actually relevant to belief?

I'd like to get an idea of the personal perceptions of the Christian members here, and see to what extent they feel that:

a) They themselves are guilty of a "pick and choose" approach to scripture, and,

b) That others are more guilty of a "pick and choose" approach to scripture.

When your dealing with an ancient scripture with a limited world view believers have little choice other than to selectively pick and choose which parts to believe in and how to interpret parts of the Bible to put on the show that the Bible is still relevant as guidance today.

This is very much the case with the Torah, New Testament and the Koran.
 
It has certainly been my experience watching religions in the world today - active selectivity is the norm. In the Torah God is a rather harsh deity. In the New Testament God offers an entirely different approach. It has always been difficult for me to accept that all of it combined is from the same deity.
 
Much depends about what you mean by "God's Word," BigJoe. If you are assuming that this means Scripture is inerrant, then yes, you do have a valid point. However, I do not hold with the inerrancy of Scripture. I don't want to go off on a long tangent here, but I do want to share some relevant background. When we deal with the bible, we are dealing with two different communities, the world of the laity and the world of academic biblical studies. Many laity, and I am not necessarily point the finger here, I'm just saying that many laity have the naïve assumption that the world of academic studies is largely an extension of what they have learned in church and Sunday school. Forget it. The world of academia is a completely different ballgame, with different rules, goals, and which often reaches different conclusions from the laity. Nobody goes to Scripture, with a blank mind. Everyone looks at Scripture through a lens they have brought. For many laity, the lens is that provided by their church's teachings. Hence, many come to Scripture, with the idea firmly implanted that it has to be inerrant. The way the Bible says events happened is exactly the way they did. For biblical studies, that is about the worst thing you can do. You have to come to Scripture, with an open mind. You have to look at Scripture through the lens provided by a healthy skepticism about traditional teachings. Maybe it is inerrant, maybe not. Let's test it out and see. Having carefully examined matters, I have concluded that the Bible is not the Word of God. The Bible is the Word of Man. The Word of God is revealed through the Word of Man. That's staling a quote from my OT professor.
 
For many laity, the lens is that provided by their church's teachings.Hence, many come to Scripture, with the idea firmly implanted that it has to be inerrant.
Yes, it's always problematic, and although in some denominations it's not the teaching – Catholic and Orthodox, for example – Biblical inerrancy seems assumed. The problems it causes seem primarily an American issue, as right-wing net-christian groups seem to have such clout ...

Having carefully examined matters, I have concluded that the Bible is not the Word of God. The Bible is the Word of Man. The Word of God is revealed through the Word of Man. That's staling a quote from my OT professor.
That seems eminently sensible to me. It's the current Catholic doctrinal view ... and I think the Orthodox view it in the same way.
 
Much depends on the denomination, whether it is liberal or conservative. I ma PCUSA and we are very liberal. I'm not sure what you mean when you say right-wing Christian groups have such clout. I was just in a discussion group called Christian Forums for several months. The "moderators" and I had a disagreement on Scripture. They were furious I challenged the inerrancy of Scripture. I simply told them to buzz off and take their site with them. There are any number of right-wing apologetic sites on line. However, there are also a number of Christian-based sites challenging them. So, for me, hard to say if the right-wingers rule the roost. When they lean on me, I simply tell them to buzz off.
 
Much depends on the denomination, whether it is liberal or conservative. I ma PCUSA and we are very liberal. I'm not sure what you mean when you say right-wing Christian groups have such clout. I was just in a discussion group called Christian Forums for several months. The "moderators" and I had a disagreement on Scripture. They were furious I challenged the inerrancy of Scripture. I simply told them to buzz off and take their site with them. There are any number of right-wing apologetic sites on line. However, there are also a number of Christian-based sites challenging them. So, for me, hard to say if the right-wingers rule the roost. When they lean on me, I simply tell them to buzz off.

Actual polls over recent history, and the matter of fact political power of the conservative evangelical right indicates the clout that exists in the USA. Though among recent polls more younger people believe in evolution. Still roughly 40% Americans believe in a roughly literal Biblical Creation.

Younger people may turn the tide, but conservative Christian congregation have been steadily growing in the past 70-80 years.
 
Yes, it is true the right wing has considerable clout. No doubt about that. The [problem I have here is that I keep finding different polls giving different results.
 
Back
Top