43
   

Obama..... not religious?

 
 
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Tue 3 Feb, 2009 08:48 am
I'll pray for you Thomas . . . oh . . . wait a minute . . .
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Tue 3 Feb, 2009 08:51 am
By the way, you've missed the logical flaw in your reasoning:

Quote:
I can't speak for Joe, but I agree with him, and I'm happy to peddle back to the point of saying: "if you don't believe in the divinity of Christ, you can't belong to any of the Christian denominations whose members frequently recite the Apostolic creed in their services -- which doesn't cover all Christians living today, but almost."


If you are content with "almost," then you must be content with acknowledging that not absolutely everyone whom you are willing to describe as Christian necessarily considers your boy Jesus to have been divine.
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Tue 3 Feb, 2009 08:56 am
@Setanta,
Setanta wrote:
If you are content with "almost," then you must be content with acknowledging that not absolutely everyone whom you are willing to describe as Christian necessarily considers your boy Jesus to have been divine.

As a point of logic, I agree. As a practical point, though, the difference is irrelevant.

And it's not my boy Jesus. It's their boy Jesus.
0 Replies
 
Frank Apisa
 
  1  
Reply Tue 3 Feb, 2009 09:01 am
@Setanta,
Well, I've also asserted that a requirement for being a Christian is acceptance of the divinity of Jesus, so I'm going to comment on this.

Not sure why you think the opinions of an early heretic on the trinity question should influence how the word “Christian” should be used in the present day, but I think that is a major stretch on your part. Since the Council of Nicaea there has been near unanimity in Christianity on the question of Jesus' divinity. I do not know of any Christian teacher or sect today espousing otherwise. Even Unitarians accept some some sort of divinity for Jesus (the divine Exemplar).

As for the definitional argument...I have mentioned on occasions that I've incorporated some of the teaching of Jesus into my personal philosophy (yes, I know that area has not been in evidence here)...but that truly does not make me a Christian.

In any case, if you want to be a stickler and suggest that it is an area that has to be tidied up in this argument...okay:

Everyone please understand that when I am referring to "a Christian" in my remarks...I am talking about only those Christians who accept the divinity of Jesus. If there are people here who do not accept Jesus as divine in some way...but who still profess to be Christians...I am not referring to you.

And I want to be sure that at no point have I ever said that every Christian is a hypocrite...even though some of the Christians here want to allege (not sure on what basis) that all Christians, indeed, all humans, are hypocrites.
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Tue 3 Feb, 2009 09:01 am
I knew you'd like that part.

Millions of people who can be considered Christian, who consider themselves Christian, and who do so on the basis of living, or attempting to live, based on the teachings of the putative Christ can hardly be considered an irrelevancy. For example, Jehovah's Witnesses number more than seven millions worldwide.
JPB
 
  1  
Reply Tue 3 Feb, 2009 09:03 am
@Frank Apisa,
Frank, in your opinion, can a devout Roman Catholic be a Christian?
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Tue 3 Feb, 2009 09:05 am
My remarks about Christians were in response to a remark by Joe. I have since conversed with Thomas on that subject. You don't need to "clear up" anything for me, Frank, because i no longer care what you think, after your deplorable performance yesterday. The post of mine over which you went ballistic was actually an argument in support of your thesis about the obligation of Christians to adhere to Mosaic law, and yet you reacted by foaming at the mouth. Consider, for sake of the both of us, that none of my remarks in this thread in future have any reference to what you have written or will write here.
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Tue 3 Feb, 2009 09:05 am
@Setanta,
Then I'm now officially surpassing the master who taught me to consider things irrelevant. Jehova's witnesses are a matter of uttermost irrelevance to me -- not to mention indifference.
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Tue 3 Feb, 2009 09:08 am
While saddened by your confusion, Thomas, i applaud your epistolary style . . .
0 Replies
 
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Tue 3 Feb, 2009 09:15 am
@Setanta,
Setanta wrote:
You've advanced this argument before, and i consider it fundamentally flawed. In fact, i would consider an argument that a "true" Christian must accept the injunctions of Leviticus to be better founded than the argument you advance here. The assumption of the divinity of the putative Christ in "mainstream" Christianity is essentially a product of the suppression of what came to be known as the Arian heresy, derived from the questioning of the trinity by Arius of Alexandria. In fact, Eusebius of Caesarea, who wrote the confession which was adopted as the Nicene Creed, was considered an Arian by many of his contemporaries, which did not, however, diminish his influence or the favor shown him by Constantine.

The true nature of Arianism is largely unknown, primarily because most of the accounts of Arian theology come to us from the opponents of Arianism, which would be a bit like relying on okie or McGentrix to give an accurate description of modern liberalism. As I understand it, the Arians believed that Christ was not cosubstantial with god but was, nevertheless, the son of god and therefore divine. Christ, in other words, was like a minor deity. Under my very generous definition of what constitutes a Christian, therefore, the Arians were Christians to the extent that they believed Christ partook of the divine. To the extent that they didn't, however, they weren't Christians.

Setanta wrote:
One cannot allege on a traditional basis that a Christian must believe in the divinity of Christ, because there has been (or at least once was) a strong, widely subscribed to Christian belief that Christ was not divine. One cannot allege it by definition, either.

From Answers-dot-com, and based upon the American Heritage Dictionary:

n.

1. One who professes belief in Jesus as Christ or follows the religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus.
2. One who lives according to the teachings of Jesus.

From the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary:

1 a: one who professes belief in the teachings of Jesus Christ

I was, until this moment, unaware that the American Heritage Dictionary was an authoritative theological text. Perhaps it is one of those "lost books" of the bible that was found along with the Dead Sea Scrolls. Who knew?

Setanta wrote:
Not following a religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus, nor living according to the teachings of Jesus, nor professing belief in the teaching of Jesus Christ unavoidably entails believing in the divinity of the boy Jesus.

There might be a lot of reasons to argue about in what being a Christian consists, but there can be no unassailable basis for alleging that anyone who would profess being a Christian must also profess a belief in the divinity of the Christ.

If that's true, what distinguishes a Presbyterian who believes that Christ was divine from a Muslim or Bahai who believes that Christ was just a really righteous dude?
Frank Apisa
 
  1  
Reply Tue 3 Feb, 2009 09:18 am
@JPB,
I think a devout Catholic is a Christian...and truly have never understood why non-Catholic Christians even make this an issue.
JPB
 
  1  
Reply Tue 3 Feb, 2009 09:21 am
@Frank Apisa,
Frank Apisa wrote:
I have argued that the Bible should be important to any Christian, because as I understand it, one cannot really claim to be a Christian without claiming Jesus was the Christ...and I do not see how anyone can get to that point without using the Bible. And more specifically, I cannot see how anyone can get there without using the Old Testament!

But if one is going to use the material in the Bible as reliable in establishing that Jesus is the Christ...how can one also claim that the other material is so unreliable that statements like those at Leviticus 20-13 and Leviticus 25:44ff actually mean the exact opposite of what the words say.


One can get to the point by using the Bible in addition to other gospel stories that were considered heretical by the early Church. Christianity (as defined by the dogma and creed of the early church) is not the only way to accept Jesus as Christ. Writings that were considered heretical by the early church (the Gospel of Thomas, for instance) because they did not follow the Pauline tradition of the redemptive Christ are very powerful writings that express Jesus as Christ but are not in the bible.

If, as I believe, the Bible is a collection of writings that were specifically chosen by a bunch of men on a mission to continue the patriarchal superiority of their own view (Paul's view) and other writings were evaluated but excluded because they showed the divinity of Jesus, but not the redemptive savior of Paul then, yes, one can get to that point by taking Jesus' teachings in Mark and Matthew, adding other sayings gospels such as the gospels of Thomas and Mary, accept the divinity of Jesus as Christ and call themselves a Christian.

Further, one can simply accept the part about the patriarchal intent of the early church leaders and look solely at Mark and Matthew to accept Jesus as divine and therefore "be" a Christian.

I agree with Thomas on creeds and hypocrisy when the member doesn't believe the tenets of the creed. Sitting idly by why the congregation recites a creed does not make one a hypocrite, however. I disagree that one "can't" be a member of a denomination that recites a creed during it's services without being a hypocrite, although this is precisely why I belong to a non-creedal religion.
JPB
 
  2  
Reply Tue 3 Feb, 2009 09:24 am
@Frank Apisa,
This goes to my point throughout this thread. I've never understood why anyone makes any denomination's definition of Christianity an issue.
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Tue 3 Feb, 2009 09:28 am
@joefromchicago,
Essentially, Joe, you are offering an ipse dixit argument, by referring back to your personal definition in responding to the issue of Arianism. However, i will accept the authority of the Catholic Encyclopedia:

Quote:
A heresy which arose in the fourth century, and denied the Divinity of Jesus Christ.


As for what would distinguish a Presbyterian from a Muslim (and leaving aside all the delicious absurdities of John Calvin), i refer you again to the three descriptions extracted from the two definitions i quoted and linked (and resolutely ignoring your irrelevant remarks about the theological authority of the American Heritage Dictionary, whose claim cannot reasonably be considered to be less than your own personal claim). So long as a Muslim or a Bahai is not necessarily conscientiously attempting to live their life in accordance with the teaching of Jesus, following a religion based upon the teaching of Jesus, or professing a belief in the teaching of Jesus, they would not be Christians. That you or anyone else would choose to or choose not to so describe them has no meaning to me.
Frank Apisa
 
  1  
Reply Tue 3 Feb, 2009 09:31 am
@Setanta,
Quote:
My remarks about Christians were in response to a remark by Joe. I have since conversed with Thomas on that subject. You don't need to "clear up" anything for me, Frank, because i no longer care what you think, after your deplorable performance yesterday. The post of mine over which you went ballistic was actually an argument in support of your thesis about the obligation of Christians to adhere to Mosaic law, and yet you reacted by foaming at the mouth. Consider, for sake of the both of us, that none of my remarks in this thread in future have any reference to what you have written or will write here.


Since you have always been a model of decorum, restraint, and propriety in your posts, Set, I guess I should not have been offended by the notion of you lecturing me in those areas.

Don't know what came over me.
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Tue 3 Feb, 2009 09:33 am
I didn't "lecture" you in those areas, and my present comment only describes why i won't discuss this subject with you. Get over it . . . grow up.
0 Replies
 
JPB
 
  2  
Reply Tue 3 Feb, 2009 09:34 am
@joefromchicago,
joefromchicago wrote:

JPB wrote:

You can't make this stuff up. It must be right, right?

There is, I think, a rather large difference between someone saying that he is a good Catholic even though he doesn't follow the church's tenets, and someone else saying Catholics aren't genuine Christians. The former is simply a matter of comparing one's stated positions with one's practices, while the latter is a theological controversy. The former is fairly easy to resolve and involves no specialized knowledge, the latter is impossible to resolve and involves an intimate familiarity with religious texts and, preferably, with god himself.


Bingo!!! And yet this thread is FULL of folks who claim to have special knowledge on who is/isn't can/can't be a genuine Christian.
0 Replies
 
nimh
 
  2  
Reply Tue 3 Feb, 2009 09:57 am
@Thomas,
Thomas wrote:
I'll settle for "a workable first shot at a moral compass". More workable than some placebo-compass that we all would agree isn't a workable first shot at a moral compass.

Well, we certainly don't all agree that the Bible is not a workable first shot at a moral compass. That's the point, isn't it? You guys seem to be saying that if one doesn't take the Bible as unerrant, divine truth from cover to cover, it can't be a working moral compass. I still don't see the logic in that black and white thinking.
0 Replies
 
joefromchicago
 
  2  
Reply Tue 3 Feb, 2009 10:04 am
@Setanta,
Setanta wrote:

Essentially, Joe, you are offering an ipse dixit argument, by referring back to your personal definition in responding to the issue of Arianism. However, i will accept the authority of the Catholic Encyclopedia:

Quote:
A heresy which arose in the fourth century, and denied the Divinity of Jesus Christ.

Really, it's just laughable to cite the Catholic Encyclopedia definition of "Arianism" as proof that the Arians were heretics who didn't believe in the divinity of Jesus. The Catholic church has its own definition of what it means for Christ to be "divine," and the Arians didn't share that particular belief. That doesn't mean, however, that the Arians thought that Christ wasn't divine, it just means that the Arians didn't think Christ was divine in the same way that Catholics think that Christ was divine. In particular, Catholics believe that Christ is cosubstantial with god, whereas the Arians, as far as we can tell, thought that Christ was "begotten" of god and, therefore, not cosubstantial.

You conclude that Arians weren't Christians because they didn't believe in the Catholic version of Christ, but then accepting the Catholic position on Christ's divinity is merely begging the question. You're assuming that the Catholic church is right on this point. In contrast, I have no reason to think that the Catholic church has a monopoly on defining what it takes for Christ to be "divine."

Setanta wrote:
As for what would distinguish a Presbyterian from a Muslim (and leaving aside all the delicious absurdities of John Calvin), i refer you again to the three descriptions extracted from the two definitions i quoted and linked (and resolutely ignoring your irrelevant remarks about the theological authority of the American Heritage Dictionary, whose claim cannot reasonably be considered to be less than your own personal claim). So long as a Muslim or a Bahai is not necessarily conscientiously attempting to live their life in accordance with the teaching of Jesus, following a religion based upon the teaching of Jesus, or professing a belief in the teaching of Jesus, they would not be Christians. That you or anyone else would choose to or choose not to so describe them has no meaning to me.

Dictionaries define word usages, they don't get into doctrinal debates. If people use the word "Christian" loosely, without regard to its theological dimensions, that's of little concern to the good folks at Merriam-Webster. That's why dictionary definitions are of very little use in theological discussions.

Definitions, in any event, follow usage rather than the other way around. We know that something, for instance, is a "dog" because we have examples of dogs that we can say, without question, are members of that category. So if some unknown beast comes to our attention, we can determine whether it fits into the definition of "dog" by looking at other examples that we're sure already fit that definition. In the same way, we don't define "Christian" in a vacuum, but rather by looking at examples that we're sure already fit that definition.

Someone who merely follows the precepts of Jesus, without accepting his divinity, is probably on the fringes of what we would consider to be the definition of "Christian." There's very little to distinguish someone who says "I follow the 'golden rule' laid down by Jesus, but I don't accept that he was divine" with someone who says "I follow the 'golden rule' because it's morally defensible, and I don't give a fico for that guy Jesus." I'm not sure why we'd call the first person a "Christian" but not the second. It seems that the first is a "Christian" only by happenstance -- if he had learned of the "golden rule" from a fortune cookie rather than the bible we could, with equal justification, call him a "Fortune Cookiean." If "Christian" is to be a meaningful category, it must mean more than just thinking that Christ was a smart cookie.
nimh
 
  2  
Reply Tue 3 Feb, 2009 10:07 am
@joefromchicago,
joefromchicago wrote:
It seems that the first is a "Christian" only by happenstance -- if he had learned of the "golden rule" from a fortune cookie rather than the bible we could, with equal justification, call him a "Fortune Cookiean." If "Christian" is to be a meaningful category, it must mean more than just thinking that Christ was a smart cookie.

Good lord, I may not agree with you but you sure can write! That was clever.
 

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