43
   

Obama..... not religious?

 
 
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Wed 28 Jan, 2009 03:13 pm
@JPB,
JPB wrote:
I disagree that there is anything in his words or actions that indicate that he is anything other than what he presents himself to be.

Fair enough.

Would you prefer it if we started a thread of its own for about how liberal Christianity is making sense (or not)? Would you prefer to drop it? Just let me know.
0 Replies
 
snood
 
  1  
Reply Thu 29 Jan, 2009 05:37 am
I think JPB is right on about the nontroversy here. Obama serves the liberal christianity that prefers the greater good over enforcing fundamentalism.
Frank Apisa
 
  1  
Reply Thu 29 Jan, 2009 07:15 am
@snood,
May very well be, Snood. Nobody here is saying that is not the case. Some of us are applauding what we see as a very brave move for a politician...a move that does lots to traverse the chasm between people who are believers...and those who are not.

Some of us have mentioned that most politicians seem not to give a damn if non-believers are ordered to the back of the bus, so to speak...and it is a pleasure to see someone who, in two different places now, has acknowledged that we are part of the mainstream...and that the politicians are our leaders also.

And some of us have speculated if there might be more involved.

It is fine for you to suppose that Obama "...serves the liberal christianity that prefers the greater good over enforcing fundamentalism"...and I have no reason to doubt that.

But there is also nothing wrong with...or hoping...that something more is at work.
0 Replies
 
dyslexia
 
  1  
Reply Thu 29 Jan, 2009 09:33 am
as long as Obama's religious fist doesn't connect with my nose I don't give a **** about his theology.
0 Replies
 
nimh
 
  2  
Reply Thu 29 Jan, 2009 05:50 pm
@Frank Apisa,
Frank Apisa wrote:
Why do you build these strawmen?

Talking about straw men ...

I love the way you took Drewdad's answer that, as far as the Old Testament's condemnation of homosexuality goes, he thinks "it's interesting, in an academic way, but it is not applicable to modern life .. just like the dietary rules about shellfish"; and made it out like he admitted that the Bible is just "a bunch of bullshit."

OK, no, I didn't love it, actually. I thought it was silly and rather dumb.
Frank Apisa
 
  1  
Reply Thu 29 Jan, 2009 06:35 pm
@nimh,
Well, if a person is saying that the passages I quoted are ambiguous...or do not apply because this is a different day and different place...

...then that person is saying that the Bible IS a bunch of bullshit.

Try to keep up here, Nimh.

Here are the passages once again:

“If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them shall be put to death for their abominable deed; they have forfeited their lives.”  Leviticus 20-13

Leviticus 25:44ff
"Slaves, male and female, you may indeed possess...such slaves you may own as chattels, and leave to your sons as their hereditary property, making them perpetual slaves."

If a person can get the former to mean anything other than that the god of the Bible considers homosexual conduct to be an abomination...

...or the latter to mean anything other than that the ownership of slaves is moral and acceptable...

...then what the hell use is the Bible.

Any sentence can mean anything.

There was no strawman there except in your mind.
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Thu 29 Jan, 2009 07:07 pm
Meandering by, I'll say that what I've read of what Obama has said seems to be consistent with understandings, or searchings, of those who attend UCC churches.

Not everyone who has some level of belief gets all het up about the portrayed words of the god of the bible.

As Dys said, as long as Obama's religious views don't connect with my nose I don't care about his theology. I'm also glad that he acknowledges some of us lack belief.
Frank Apisa
 
  1  
Reply Thu 29 Jan, 2009 07:16 pm
@ossobuco,
Amen!
0 Replies
 
DrewDad
 
  1  
Reply Thu 29 Jan, 2009 07:20 pm
@Frank Apisa,
No, Nimh's absolutely correct.

Try this: Some of what you write is absolute bullshit. Some of what you write is not.

This does not mean that I think everything you write is bullshit. (But I'm starting to lean in that direction....)
0 Replies
 
nimh
 
  2  
Reply Thu 29 Jan, 2009 07:28 pm
@Frank Apisa,
Frank Apisa wrote:

Well, if a person is saying that the passages I quoted are ambiguous...or do not apply because this is a different day and different place...

...then that person is saying that the Bible IS a bunch of bullshit.

No.

"Not everything in this book applies in extenso to this day and age" Not Equal "the book is a bunch of bullshit".

If a person says that some individual passages in the Bible do not apply in this day and age anymore, it does not follow that he is admitting the Bible is a bunch of bullshit.

It can mean that he believes the Bible relays much divine wisdom, but should not be taken as 1:1 instructions in this day and age. For example, because he believes the Bible is merely the way men of that age relayed Jesus's words, long after the fact, and did so contradictorily, incompletely and sometimes misguidedly. He can still believe in God, believe that Jesus was the son of God, and believe that much of their wisdom is caught in the Bible, without believing that every word in the Bible is God's own truth.

For another example, he can believe the Bible represented God's wisdom on life (the universe and everything) in that era, but that God and Jesus would have preached differently in this day and age, and that it is up to the believer to come in the clear with God, whether within a church community or not, about what that would be.

For yet another example, he could believe that - well, etc ad infinitum.

There are many ways to believe that not just does God exist and was Jesus his son (or even more relativistically, not literally his son but a prophet who spoke divine truths), but that the Bible has caught many of their wisdoms and should be read and heeded in many ways -- and yet not believe that every word in it and every admonishment made in it reflects God's truth and should be followed in this day and age.
Frank Apisa
 
  1  
Reply Thu 29 Jan, 2009 07:30 pm
@nimh,
Nimh...get someone to help you read what I actually wrote...then come back.
0 Replies
 
Thomas
 
  2  
Reply Thu 29 Jan, 2009 08:04 pm
@nimh,
nimh wrote:
Talking about straw men ...

I love the way you took Drewdad's answer that, as far as the Old Testament's condemnation of homosexuality goes, he thinks "it's interesting, in an academic way, but it is not applicable to modern life .. just like the dietary rules about shellfish"; and made it out like he admitted that the Bible is just "a bunch of bullshit."

I suspect that what provoked Franks reaction is the earlier claim that the Bible used to mean that god doesn't like gays, but that it doesn't mean that anymore.

See, I think there's a confusion between two different questions. Question one is: what does the text of the Bible mean? Question two is, how, if at all, does the text apply to how I live my life?

What gets me so riled up (and I think that goes for Frank too, though he can speak for himself) is question one. God, as described in the Bible, either does or doesn't condone homosexuality and slavery. These are facts about the text, and they don't depend on whether we like them or not, or whether we are conservative Christians, liberal Christians, or heathens.

Having established that the god of the Bible condemns homosexuality, condemns the consumption of shellfish, and is fine with slavery, you can then continue by saying, "and that's why I'm pro-slavery and anti-gay too". Or you can say, "but we don't really believe that anymore". Or, the whole thing never made sense anyway. This decision does depend on whether you're a conservative Christian, a liberal Christian, or a heathen.

But it doesn't change the answer to question 1: the God of the Bible is pro- slavery, anti-shellfish, and anti-gay. To say anything else is either dishonest or delusional.
Frank Apisa
 
  1  
Reply Thu 29 Jan, 2009 08:26 pm
@Thomas,
Thank you, Thomas. You is a good guy! And smart too.
0 Replies
 
slkshock7
 
  1  
Reply Thu 29 Jan, 2009 09:14 pm
Obama may be a Christian for expediency purposes only, but I'm firmly convinced that we'll soon see him joining and regularly attending a local church here in DC.

Despite what many folks seem to wish here, the US remains a fiercely Christian nation and those Christians span both sides of the political fence...not to mention a huge Christian African-American voter base. To go too far in espousing atheism or agnosticism would alienate him from most of this support and undoubtedly doom him to only one term. Despite his true beliefs, Obama's far too ambitious and smart to commit political suicide by visibly rejecting his religious underpinnings. I daresay we won't see anymore videos like this now that he's president.
0 Replies
 
nimh
 
  4  
Reply Fri 30 Jan, 2009 06:23 am
@Thomas,
Thomas wrote:
But it doesn't change the answer to question 1: the God of the Bible is pro- slavery, anti-shellfish, and anti-gay. To say anything else is either dishonest or delusional.

Right, but that's the sleight of hand Frank was called on from the start: people were talking about what being a Christian meant to them or to people (or, initially, what it meant to Obama) -- at which point Frank jumped in with his usual expositions about why "the God of the Bible" is a silly nit. But many Christians today do not take every word in the Bible as the literal expression of God's own truth. Many Christians believe that the Bible should not be read as if it were dictated by God him/herself, but rather that it is a book that should generally be heeded because it captures many of God's truths, but should not be taken word by word as divine instructions for your life.

As soon as Frank first launched into his spiel about "the God of the Bible," people objected to this shift in the discussion, notably JPB and DD. As DrewDad said right on the next page already, "There you go mixing your terms again. Fundamentalists may believe that God is the Bible and the Bible is God, but they do not define Christianity." I think he summarised it most succinctly later on when he wrote: "Don't fall into Frank's trap and think that "the God of the Bible" that he references has any relation to "the God that you worship/believe in"."

Basically, Frank's explicitly stated starting point of argument was that any "Christian who condones homosexual behavior is a hypocrite"which is equivalent to not being a Christian" - because the Bible says nasty stuff about gays and so they wouldnt be following every of the Bible's instructions. So he defines Christianity as excluding the vast share of Christians who do not see the Bible as a word-by-word expression of God's own truth, and then concludes that Christianity as he defines it is cruel, and so-called Christians who don't agree with its cruelty are not really Christians. D'oh.

(That kind of sums up Frank's many years of posting here on the Religion boards actually..)

To some extent you fell into the same trap, when you said, "Christians don't have to hate gays, and indeed there are many who don't. It's God who hates gays." That would only be true if you take the Bible for the direct expression of God's truths, rather than a book written by disciples, gathered together much time after the fact, which contains many of God's truth but is certainly not flawless. Which is how millions of Christians today view it. And if that's how you view God, the fact that the Bible has anti-gay stuff does not equate with "It's God who hates gays."
sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Fri 30 Jan, 2009 06:31 am
@nimh,
Very nice post!
Frank Apisa
 
  1  
Reply Fri 30 Jan, 2009 07:39 am
@nimh,
Quote:
Right, but that's the sleight of hand Frank was called on from the start: people were talking about what being a Christian meant to them or to people (or, initially, what it meant to Obama) -- at which point Frank jumped in with his usual expositions about why "the God of the Bible" is a silly nit. But many Christians today do not take every word in the Bible as the literal expression of God's own truth. Many Christians believe that the Bible should not be read as if it were dictated by God him/herself, but rather that it is a book that should generally be heeded because it captures many of God's truths, but should not be taken word by word as divine instructions for your life.


If you are saying the Bible should be "heeded" in order not to kill people or steal or lie...why bother. Just don't do those things.

If something as unambiguous as “homosexual conduct is an abomination” or “slavery is moral”...can be disregarded...disregard the entire thing. You do not need the Bible to tell you not to kill or steal or lie. And to pretend that it is a special book giving us insights into what a GOD expects of us...but being willing to disregard inconvenient parts like that...is blantant hypocrisy.

No “slight of hand” on my part, Nimh...but plenty on yours!

Quote:
As soon as Frank first launched into his spiel about "the God of the Bible," people objected to this shift in the discussion, notably JPB and DD. As DrewDad said right on the next page already, "There you go mixing your terms again. Fundamentalists may believe that God is the Bible and the Bible is God, but they do not define Christianity." I think he summarised it most succinctly later on when he wrote: "Don't fall into Frank's trap and think that "the God of the Bible" that he references has any relation to "the God that you worship/believe in"."


Well...the god of the Bible...specifically the god of the Old Testament...IS the god Jesus worshiped...and if you are professing to be a Christian have the ******* integrity to admit you are worshiping that god. Yes, I did call attention to hypocrisy and almost laughable rationalizations...but that is part of what we do here in A2K.


Quote:
Basically, Frank's explicitly stated starting point of argument was that any "Christian who condones homosexual behavior is a hypocrite"which is equivalent to not being a Christian" - because the Bible says nasty stuff about gays and so they wouldnt be following every of the Bible's instructions. So he defines Christianity as excluding the vast share of Christians who do not see the Bible as a word-by-word expression of God's own truth, and then concludes that Christianity as he defines it is cruel, and so-called Christians who don't agree with its cruelty are not really Christians. D'oh.

(That kind of sums up Frank's many years of posting here on the Religion boards actually..)


What I actually said was: "...an argument can be made that any “Christian” who condones homosexual behavior, is a hypocrite...which is equivalent to saying that the person is not really a Christian.

The Bible is unambiguous about how the god of the Bible...the god Jesus worshipped...feels about homosexual conduct. It is, in the opinion of that god...an abomination...an insult to the god.

And the opinion of the god of the Bible should matter to Christians...should it not?"

And I said that in direct response to a question.

What is wrong with that????

Quote:

To some extent you fell into the same trap, when you said, "Christians don't have to hate gays, and indeed there are many who don't. It's God who hates gays." That would only be true if you take the Bible for the direct expression of God's truths, rather than a book written by disciples, gathered together much time after the fact, which contains many of God's truth but is certainly not flawless. Which is how millions of Christians today view it. And if that's how you view God, the fact that the Bible has anti-gay stuff does not equate with "It's God who hates gays."


The Bible says that the god told all this stuff to Moses. If you are saying the Bible is full of ****...say so. Stop trying to make it sound as though there is some reasonable way to consider the Bible a repository of knowledge about the GOD of the universe...but sometimes it gets minor things wrong.

If you think the Bible is merely the opinions of a group of ancient Hebrews about morality...why pay it special attention at all?????

Okay???
DrewDad
 
  1  
Reply Fri 30 Jan, 2009 08:15 am
And I'll say again: Like any great work of literature, there are gems that you take away that are relevant to your life, and there are parts that are not relevant to your life.

I used to think the same way you do, Frank, that God as depicted in the Old Testament is mean, vindictive, cruel, small-minded, etc., which means that Christianity must be the same.

But there are some great lessons to be learned there, too, once you learn to tune out the "noise" of past prejudices.

The Bible is not a handbook, Frank.
Frank Apisa
 
  1  
Reply Fri 30 Jan, 2009 08:31 am
@DrewDad,
Quote:
The Bible is not a handbook, Frank


I suspect that the Bible is a (rather self-serving) history of the early Hebrew people...with a mythology intertwined. My further guess is that the mythology incorporates the morals and sentiments of this ancient, superstitious, relatively unsophisticated, naive people"putting those morals and sentiments into the mouth of a god they invented.

If it were treated that way...I would have no problem with it. But it is not. It is treated as a special book...one that imparts divine knowledge.

And because it is seen that way by so many people...it has caused misery throughout the centuries.

So I discuss the book a lot...and call attention to the folly of supposing it to be a special, holy book...a book that imparts divine knowledge.

I think that kind of discussion is healthy.

Obviously some people think it is not healthy or proper. Some people think it should simply be accepted as a special book...one that imparts divine revelation.
0 Replies
 
JPB
 
  3  
Reply Fri 30 Jan, 2009 08:40 am
@Thomas,
Thomas wrote:
But it doesn't change the answer to question 1: the God of the Bible is pro- slavery, anti-shellfish, and anti-gay. To say anything else is either dishonest or delusional.


Sure it does and no it isn't.

I have very little time to get into this but I'll take a quick stab it it... The "God of the Bible" in Leviticus and Deuteronomy, those books quoted by Frank as indicative of a vengeful, judgmental god, are books of the Torah which were carried over into christian theology as a historical reference to the teachings of Jesus. The Law is stated in Genesis by Moses, but they were restated by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount. The Torah proclaims the law of Judaism at the time. Jesus then says that he is here to fulfill the law of the Torah and restates it for a contemporary age -- even there Jesus is saying the ten commandments have been misconstrued. Nowhere in Matthew 5 does he mention homosexuality or slavery. He restates the laws and makes them MORE stringent, not less. The christian who believes that the Word of Jesus is the Word of God can easily make the case that Leviticus no longer applies.

Matthew 5 (New International Version - UK)
Quote:
21 You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, 'Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.'

22 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, 'Raca,' is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, 'You fool!' will be in danger of the fire of hell.


Quote:
27 You have heard that it was said, 'Do not commit adultery.'

28 But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart


Quote:
33 Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, 'Do not break your oath, but keep the oaths you have made to the Lord.'

34 But I tell you, Do not swear at all: either by heaven, for it is God's throne;

35 or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King.

36 And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black.

37 Simply let your 'Yes' be 'Yes', and your 'No', 'No'; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.


Paul then goes on and does some gay-bashing in his letters, but Paul isn't part of the holy trinity. To a liberal christian, one who accepts Jesus as God in human form, it is no great stretch to take the words of Matthew 5 and and use them as a template for being a "good" christian. God gave the Law to Moses. Other folks expanded on that. Jesus said they went too far in some cases, not far enough in others.

Let me spend a minute on Paul. Paul (narcissistic, egotist that he was) is thought by most scholars to have a tortured soul. He was a miserable man who went around persecuting everyone who didn't agree with him. He had his moment on the road with a vision and was a changed man --- although, not really. He changed his focus but not his approach. He still persecuted everyone who didn't agree with him, but it was a different group. He changed from persecuting christians to shilling for the cause and persecuting those who disagreed with him about The Way to redemption (same 'ole song, different verse). Paul went off on a rant proclaiming himself a equal to the twelve when Peter didn't like the fact that Paul was changing the message away from the law. Paul and Peter had a pow-wow and decided to spend their lives on different parts of the planet. Paul goes back to the Mediterranean and Peter focuses his own efforts on the Galilee.

Paul, as an emotionally tortured man (possibly homosexual, according to some scholars) needed a redeeming savior. He didn't need to live by Jesus' Word (he doesn't mention them in any of his writings) he needed a way out of his personal hell. Paul is the one who proclaims that we are all born sinners. He has impure thoughts he can't banish but rather than take them on as his own problem he says, "Not my fault, man, I was born this way, and if I'm a sinner then, by golly, so is everyone else. I'll embrace Jesus as my redemptive savior. He died for my sins and by accepting his sacrifice on my behalf I too will be saved. You do as I say and you will be saved too." Nice dodge.

Jesus talks about the beauty of the world, the goodness of people, the pleasures of food and drink. Paul talks about sin, sinners, guilt, and getting the hell out of here and on into heaven. Jesus talks about blessed participation in this world, Paul talks about divine abstinence.

Hundreds of years pass. Lots of scripture is written, reviewed, judged, included/burned and Paul's message surpasses Peter's (and even Jesus') by those who felt that Jesus as redemptive savior was the way to go. The Book was formulated and the copying begin -- except where it was copied incorrectly either by accident or by intent (see Ehrman, "Misquoting Jesus").

To say that there is only one way to "be" a Christian, and that that one way is to except the entire Bible as the inerrant word of God is a fundamentalist perspective. To call anyone who has a different view a hypocrite is specious. The liberal christian is more concerned with the message of Jesus, not the story about him or what Paul decided.

The fundamentalist gives equal weight to Moses, Leviticus, Jesus, and Paul. The fundamentalist uses a litmus test of accepting Jesus Christ as one's savior who redeems us of our own sinful nature. The liberal christian looks at the message of Jesus and accepts him as God in human form (Unitarian christians go so far as rejecting the birth and resurrection stories, focusing solely on the message) with instruction on how to live one's life as a way to get to heaven.

One word on the Torah... Jews didn't keep the Torah as a stagnant view of jewish law any more than Jesus did. Jewish tradition includes midrash and halakha which interpret the Torah for a changing universe -- just as Jesus did in the sermon on the mount.
 

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