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  1. #261
    PEST that STEPs on PETS stellar renegade's Avatar
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    Well, thanks for your questions (I appreciate respect as long as it includes, or at least lends room for, a demand for honesty). Paul, a monster? omg. I'd like to see your reasoning for that. He seems like one of the most laid-back, freedom fighting, passionately loving people I have ever heard of.

    Where to start? Should I start with pagan religions* seeming to revolve around ritual and imagery, where Christianity is based upon love and community with extreme adaptability in expression? Or should I start with pagan religions (at least the more urbanized versions, I guess) tending to be oppressive, whereas early Christianity was very liberating. Pagan religions often required for there to be a professional cleric who initiated ritual, whereas in Christianity everyone was encouraged to minister to each other (1 Cor. 14:26). Christianity revolved around community and the presence of God, whereas pagan religions revolved around various things such as sex, images (idols), the state or money. The faith of pagan religions were based on the arbitrary whims of corruptible gods, whereas Christianity is based on an absolute, irreverisible, inherent and inescapable law of love and equality which is said to come from an infinite God.

    Which road should I go down with you? There are many other differences I could talk about as well, I'm sure.

    *Keep in mind that the word 'pagan' resembles the word 'heathen' in that it used to refer to rural folk and came to mean anyone who didn't believe in a monotheistic faith after Christianity became a dominant faith in urban centers. The faith of the country folk differs in a few important ways from the faith of the urban "pagan" religions.
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  2. #262
    Oberon
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jennifer View Post
    I'm glad this thread hasn't been done before.

    Buford: Whadayawanna do today, Frank?
    Frank: I dunno, Buford, shoot beers cans off that fence?
    Buford: But that's what we do EVERY day, Frank!
    Frank: But what the heck else are we gonna do with all the beer cans, Buford?
    Buford: You're right, good buddy, load 'em up!
    From a Christian perspective, we're not doing anyone any favors by inviting folks to articulate--yet again--their pet blasphemies, either.

  3. #263
    @.~*virinaĉo*~.@ Totenkindly's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Journey View Post
    What is amazing about God is that He lets any of us have a crust of bread or a blanket to wrap around us, not that some of us have to sleep outside, much less that He treats some of us like His adopted children and some of us like the outcasts we all truly are. Some of us get what we deserve and some of us get divine grace, unmerited, unearned. Who can charge God with unfairness?
    I don't think of it as charging God with unfairness, I think that it's more about charging that a concept of God that does that sort of thing is either (1) not the god that actually would exist as the moral epitome of virtue in this world or (2) not a concept worth following. I think choosing to believe in that sort of deity says more about the believers and those who choose not to believe and less about the nature of spiritual reality itself.

    Your defense here is the typical Calvinist defense. ("Well, God didn't have to save ANY of us... so we should be grateful ANYONE gets to spend eternity with God.") I used to use it in arguments when I was defending Calvinism, but now I'm sort of ashamed and embarrassed at how self-serving such a definition is... it's a very easy thing to say when you also cast yourself as one of the elect and thus entitled. Would you say those words if you were not one of the Elect?

    Looking at my prior example, that's like some of the children being abandoned outside the home while others are inexplicably favored... and when the abandoned children complain about the unfair treatment, the kids inside with their warm beds and delicious food say, "But you're lucky ANY of us have been treated kindly -- you should be grateful!"

    It just does not pass muster.
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  4. #264
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jennifer View Post
    I don't think of it as charging God with unfairness, I think that it's more about charging that a concept of God that does that sort of thing is either (1) not the god that actually would exist as the moral epitome of virtue in this world or (2) not a concept worth following. I think choosing to believe in that sort of deity says more about the believers and those who choose not to believe and less about the nature of spiritual reality itself.

    Your defense here is the typical Calvinist defense. ("Well, God didn't have to save ANY of us... so we should be grateful ANYONE gets to spend eternity with God.") I used to use it in arguments when I was defending Calvinism, but now I'm sort of ashamed and embarrassed at how self-serving such a definition is... it's a very easy thing to say when you also cast yourself as one of the elect and thus entitled. Would you say those words if you were not one of the Elect?

    Looking at my prior example, that's like some of the children being abandoned outside the home while others are inexplicably favored... and when the abandoned children complain about the unfair treatment, the kids inside with their warm beds and delicious food say, "But you're lucky ANY of us have been treated kindly -- you should be grateful!"

    It just does not pass muster.
    I think it's an NT defense... technically accurate, but sidestepping a vital issue.

    EDIT: I've observed that NT Christians really luuuuvv them some Calvinism.

  5. #265
    ⒺⓉⒷ Eric B's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jennifer View Post
    I don't think of it as charging God with unfairness, I think that it's more about charging that a concept of God that does that sort of thing is either (1) not the god that actually would exist as the moral epitome of virtue in this world or (2) not a concept worth following. I think choosing to believe in that sort of deity says more about the believers and those who choose not to believe and less about the nature of spiritual reality itself.

    Your defense here is the typical Calvinist defense. ("Well, God didn't have to save ANY of us... so we should be grateful ANYONE gets to spend eternity with God.") I used to use it in arguments when I was defending Calvinism, but now I'm sort of ashamed and embarrassed at how self-serving such a definition is... it's a very easy thing to say when you also cast yourself as one of the elect and thus entitled. Would you say those words if you were not one of the Elect?

    Looking at my prior example, that's like some of the children being abandoned outside the home while others are inexplicably favored... and when the abandoned children complain about the unfair treatment, the kids inside with their warm beds and delicious food say, "But you're lucky ANY of us have been treated kindly -- you should be grateful!"

    It just does not pass muster.
    An irony to this is that most Calvinists will admit that their faith might be "vain". Passages dealing with that have to be dealt with too, and Calvin came right out and said that God gives some reprobates false faith so He can take it away, and they end up with their "just punishment". They really have not thought out the full ramifications of their doctrine. If they did, they would not gloat about this "hard doctrine" of OTHERS being "fit for destruction".

    So what you end up with is something that is not "Good "News" at all, and eliminates the "eternal security" Calvinism was supposed to guarantee. (And some end up trying to secure their salvation through works even more than the average "semi-Pelagian" they criticize for that!)
    It presupposes (especially the "supralapsarian" form of the doctrine) that God's main plan of the Gospel is damning most people as "vessels of wrath" (to "glorify Himself", which is His highest goal), and "Grace" is just Him making some exceptions. So the "good news" is basically for Himself, not for mankind.
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  6. #266
    Senior Member Journey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eric B View Post
    An irony to this is that most Calvinists will admit that their faith might be "vain". Passages dealing with that have to be dealt with too, and Calvin came right out and said that God gives some reprobates false faith so He can take it away, and they end up with their "just punishment". They really have not thought out the full ramifications of their doctrine. If they did, they would not gloat about this "hard doctrine" of OTHERS being "fit for destruction".

    So what you end up with is something that is not "Good "News" at all, and eliminates the "eternal security" Calvinism was supposed to guarantee. (and some end up trying to secure their salvation through works even more than the average "semi-Pelagian" they criticize!) It presupposes (especially the "supralapsarian" form of the doctrine) that God's main plan of the Gospel is damning most people as "vessels of wrath" (to "glorify Himself", which is His highest goal), and "Grace" is just Him making some exceptions. So the "good news" is basically for Himself, not for mankind.
    But you see, I actually do believe "the point" is GOD not man. Mankind is not "the point" at all. GOD is "the point." Everything looks different when you look from this view.
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  7. #267
    ⒺⓉⒷ Eric B's Avatar
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    True, but then He does say the "Good News" is for/to man (Luke 2:10). The Gospel is a message from Him to us, not from Him to Himself!
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  8. #268
    @.~*virinaĉo*~.@ Totenkindly's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eric B View Post
    ...It presupposes (especially the "supralapsarian" form of the doctrine) that God's main plan of the Gospel is damning most people as "vessels of wrath" (to "glorify Himself", which is His highest goal), and "Grace" is just Him making some exceptions. So the "good news" is basically for Himself, not for mankind.
    Basically, that's it... and the way I was taught it should be.

    Again, I don't think there aren't good ideas attached to particular doctrines, it's just that there seems to be a strong attempt to make a strong consistent front as well as nail things in stone... and when you do this, some of the truths get distorted because they just cannot be reconciled.

    Some of these things also seem to be theoretical in value rather than practical. A five-year-old child who does not understand ANY of this can still treat people with the heart of a loving servant and be a follower of God (if one goes that far); if the child could not, then people would be saved by faith + intellect, which I don't think anyone here would openly say is the case. But these discussions over doctrinal points and challenging people's salvation and standing in the eyes of God hinge on intellectual dissertation and winning of points, rather than how one's life is actually lived and spiritual fruit expressed.

    It's a nice conundrum -- believing in a faith that cannot possibly esteem intellect, but then trying to justify one's beliefs via the intellectual faculty.

    Face it, all of us have something "wrong" with our beliefs, most likely. How can we know we're correct? If there's a higher spiritual reality, it's not based on what we know or can argue.
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  9. #269
    Dreaming the life onemoretime's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by stellar renegade View Post
    Well, thanks for your questions (I appreciate respect as long as it includes, or at least lends room for, a demand for honesty). Paul, a monster? omg. I'd like to see your reasoning for that. He seems like one of the most laid-back, freedom fighting, passionately loving people I have ever heard of.
    Paul took a message of peace, tolerance and understanding that came from Jesus (the law is "love thy neighbor as thyself"), and turned it into a bunch of convoluted and contradictory prohibitions against behavior that affects none but the actor themself. Likewise, he built the massive undercurrent of anti-Semitism within Christianity, most likely due to a personal vendetta against the Jewish power structure within Judaea. His motivations, from an outsider's perspective, seems to more be political than religious, being one of the upper class men in the region.

    Where to start? Should I start with pagan religions* seeming to revolve around ritual and imagery, where Christianity is based upon love and community with extreme adaptability in expression? Or should I start with pagan religions (at least the more urbanized versions, I guess) tending to be oppressive, whereas early Christianity was very liberating. Pagan religions often required for there to be a professional cleric who initiated ritual, whereas in Christianity everyone was encouraged to minister to each other (1 Cor. 14:26). Christianity revolved around community and the presence of God, whereas pagan religions revolved around various things such as sex, images (idols), the state or money. The faith of pagan religions were based on the arbitrary whims of corruptible gods, whereas Christianity is based on an absolute, irreverisible, inherent and inescapable law of love and equality which is said to come from an infinite God.
    Most pagan religions revolved around love and community as well - all religions do. Zoroastrianism (where Christianity got its Manichean duality from) preaches the love and community of all creations of Ahura Mazda (who was just as infinite and mighty as the Jewish YHWH), and that the best means of contemplating that love and community is in the presence of a sacred fire. The fire-priests only aimed to facilitate the contemplation process, and explain what the faith meant. You had the Persian political structure taking care of the oppression. The Mithraic cult (where the idea of a demigod that dies for three days and rises again comes from, it's also Sol Invictus) didn't have any clergy whatsoever - it was shared between the Roman soldiers as a bond in a world where they were far from home, highly marginalized and only had each other.

    We seem to restrict our concept of pagan religion to the Greek and Roman pantheons often, which is unfortunate, because they do seem rather silly to us - but that makes sense, because those were tribal religions that were co-opted to do things far beyond what they were appropriate for, much as the Old Testament seems contradictory without the understanding that YHWH was the Israelite tribal god, and nothing more.

    Which road should I go down with you? There are many other differences I could talk about as well, I'm sure.
    Feel free to go wherever - I'm game.

    *Keep in mind that the word 'pagan' resembles the word 'heathen' in that it used to refer to rural folk and came to mean anyone who didn't believe in a monotheistic faith after Christianity became a dominant faith in urban centers. The faith of the country folk differs in a few important ways from the faith of the urban "pagan" religions.
    True, but that's the same nowadays - compare Christianity in New York to that of Moore, Oklahoma.

  10. #270
    Sniffles
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    Quote Originally Posted by onemoretime View Post
    Paul took a message of peace, tolerance and understanding that came from Jesus (the law is "love thy neighbor as thyself"), and turned it into a bunch of convoluted and contradictory prohibitions against behavior that affects none but the actor themself. Likewise, he built the massive undercurrent of anti-Semitism within Christianity, most likely due to a personal vendetta against the Jewish power structure within Judaea. His motivations, from an outsider's perspective, seems to more be political than religious, being one of the upper class men in the region.
    Ahh yes the usual shtick: if you dislike something about Christianity, blame St. Paul.

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