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A continuum of Christian belief?

Discussion in 'The Pub' started by Bravus, Sep 5, 2008.

  1. (we can discuss other religious traditions such as Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Zoroastrianism, paganism and so on if you like, but this thread arose out of discussion of Christianity)

    Matti-san made the comment in another thread that he is a 'small c christian' who doesn't believe in the bible in a literal way (my paraphrase, please correct if it's wrong). Banoobi asked how that works.

    I thought there might be some value and enjoyment in a discussion of varieties of Christian belief: the media and a lot of general discussion tend to act as though there are two alternatives, fundamentalism or atheism, but like everything belief is much more complicated than that.

    To put my own cards on the table, I've read the Bible a lot, know it pretty well, often toss in quotes from it in conversation and so on. I'm a Christian.

    But I believe the Creation story is a poetic story about the purposes of life and to account for joy and pain in the world, rather than a scientific story of the actual origin of the universe, the planet and life on it.

    I believe the various injunctions against homosexuality are intrusions of the culture of the day into the Biblical text, rather than God's actual will. Same with the various genocides conducted in God's name.

    So I guess I'm in the same boat as matti-san: believing, but applying various theological and exegetical principles (i.e. not just picking what I like and rejecting what I don't) to the Biblical text, rather than believing literally in (my church's interpretation of the English translation of the received version of the) literal text.
  2. ...and those who simply want to trash all religious belief, I think you've had plenty of chances to do that in past threads. Can I ask you to avoid doing that in this thread so we can focus on its particular topic?
  3. Great topic bravus, and a good intro to it as well, but a little deep for me at this time of day, I'd end up getting nothing else done!
  4. Jesus, the most Christian of Christians, believed in and preached the creation of Adam and Eve. The Apostles did likewise. If you are a Christian, are you now saying that the one who's name your faith bears, was just promulgating old Jewish myths? And if He was, how can you trust anything ELSE He said?
  5. I believe Father Jack said it best: "That would be an ecumenical matter!"

  6. Again, when Jesus referred to Adam and Eve he was making a theological point about God's creative power and about sin and redemption, not a scientific one about the exact mechanisms of creation.

    I'm happy to kick this one around but would hate to see this thread degenerate into a creation/evolution one... that's been done to death all over the web including here.

    But if the Genesis creation story was a story about meaning, then the other uses of it throughout the Bible in the context of meaning make perfect sense.
  7. 2Tim 3:16: "All inspired words..."
    If we want to believe Bible, then we need to take it as a whole and not choosing which one to believe. Before someone throws in the argument of "it depends on interpretation...", let me say this: Bible interprets itself.

    Obviously, to be able to do this, you need to read the whole Bible (yes, the old and new covenant).
    You also need to have an open mind. There's a Chinese saying: "True gold ain't afraid of fire".
    If an "interpretation" is correct, it will be in accord with the whole Bible. But if it confronts with one or two scriptures, then it can't be the correct "interpretation". It should stand up to criticism. Surely then this will takes some effort otherwise why would you think Bible likens it to finding treasures?

    To start it off:
    Jesus said that WHATEVER you asked in his name will be given. What about if I asked for Ducati 1078R in Jesus' name night and day, would I get it?
    (Note: you can only answer from the scriptures, not your own interpretations...).
  8. Of course it will; I assume you have the cash there now? :LOL:.
  9. Good post, nelda, that raises a number of issues.

    I think part of the issue I have is that I have developed beliefs and values about life, love, forgiveness, redemption and so on, based both on the Bible and on life experience. My sense of who God is owes a lot to the Bible but also, oddly, to general relativity theory.

    And when these values are confronted with Biblical texts that conflict with them, there is a choice to be made: change the values or challenge (my current understanding of) the Bible.

    Certainly quite a few of my values come into conflict with a literal line-byline, word-by-word understanding of some parts of the Bible. And yet I believe they concur with the full revelation of God and Jesus in the Bible and in the world around us.

    So to some extent, my position has ended up being "If your claim is that it's literal fundamentalism or atheism, not other alternatives, then I'd probably have to choose atheism - I can't believe in a god who stones gay people and women who have been raped if there are no witnesses and orders babies to be murdered".

    That in some ways is applying an argument from outside the Bible, rather than taking only the text. I should also point out, though, that 'Bibliophilia' - the idea that the text trumps all other understandings of God - is itself not an exclusive belief within the various branches of Christianity. Many seem to assume that it is, but approaches to belief that also see a role for God's revelation of Himself through nature and through reason and through prayer and communion with Him also have a long and honorable history.

    So to some extent the ground shifts: most attempts at convincing me in this thread so far, and those like me all over the place, rely on the idea that the Bible is all and all else must be tested by it. But that text from Timothy to some extent is like having a person who you suspect of being a conman vouch for *himself*. That is, the evidence for the infallibility of the Bible can't come from the Bible alone, because that's circular reasoning.
  10. Not really, IMO the Bible is mans' way of trying to explain the unexplainable. I was raised a Finnish Lutheran and still hold close to my heart this Christian belief system.

    This sums up how we see creationism.

    So you can see how I can call myself a christian and still have scientific mind. I can say that a higher power [God] created all and still believe in scientific process.

    So Paul I will agree that you are a Christian, it's just that we see ourselves as being correct and you as wrong in your views of the bible.
  11. To try and interpret for myself what you are suggesting, God's law dictated these solutions during the Old testament, but man could not live by the law, because no man is without sin.
    God gave man an alternative form of redemption in the sacrifice of his own son Jesus, so that we might all have the opportunity of a second chance and forgiveness through faith alone, not works or punishment.
    So man has gone from the law period to the grace period, but grace is only temporary.
    Every man must face the law and it's consequences, that time will come again and without the grace of God through Jesus Christ, no one will be saved.

    Is that simplistic enough, if so I cannot see what the problem is with the punishment of sin in the OT?
  12. Jesus was smarter than the average bear, knew his audience well and spoke in terms that his audience would understand. (Actually, that's debatable given the myriad of Christian/christian interpretations and offshoots)

    He didn't mention that the earth was round, that the sun wasn't the centre of the universe, that lightning was electricity etc etc etc. He'd be expected to know these things don't you think???

    There are many literally impossible things in the bible, least of all an entire global flood, the world repopulated to current levels, creeds, races from Noah's time and others. It's a symbolic book and frankly, it's due for a revision.... which according to the bible, we're in the end times and a revision is nigh.

    No offence Nelda, but IMO your post is a perfect example of people using isolated words, clauses in the bible in an uncontextual way to make a specific point. We've trodden this "inspired" road before... there's 140 pages of discussion if you wish to go look.
  13. (responding to banoobi, Rob got in between) I get all of that. That's not the problem.

    The problem is the killing of every man, woman, child and baby in Canaan on 'God's orders'. Had those babies sinned, personally? Why did they deserve death? And why did God, for example, take the Levites, the tribe most willing to strap on their swords and slaughter their own countrymen, and make them the priesthood?

    God, I guess, has the right to do those things, but it doesn't fit with the notion of his perfect and unfailing love toward us. What it *does* fit with quite nicely is the Israelites' quest after leaving Egyptian slavery to carve out a land for themselves and build a nation. We see plenty of examples of politicians these days claiming that what they are doing is God's will (Bush is a recent example and Palin an even more recent one) when clearly what they are doing is enlarging their nation's borders and following their self-interest. Is it impossible that the Bible contains examples of this as cautionary tales, in the same way that it contains examples of other kinds of sin as cautions?
  14. And thus continues the watering down of Christianity. It has been continuing this way for hundreds of years. "We will discount this, this and this, in light of scientific and cultural advancement, but so help us God the rest of it is Gospel!" You would almost think that one could draw a graph of "Watering down of Christianity" Vs "Time", then extrapolate the line 100 years into the future, and write the whole thing off now without having to wait.
  15. Perhaps, but I think that line would have a lot of peaks and troughs on it, rather than be smooth, and I think you'd find that the current level of fundamentalism would be something foreign to many believers between say the mid-1800s and 1940s. There was a much more sophisticated and nuanced understanding of the role and nature of Scripture at that time, and the push back toward the simplest and most literal interpretations is a relatively recent phenomenon, believe it or not. Of course the human disease is to confuse our own personal history with the history of society more broadly.
  16. Nope there are more people who have a literal belief in the bible today than we can imagine.

    My grandmother believed in the literal Bible but also saw her local Shaman and practiced "old world" religous ceremonies such as may day etc etc. So before we start saying that christianity is getting watered down we better get our facts straight.

    What is in Jesus' name?

    It is most not a greedy self centered thing but at it's core a position of love and humility. So is the Ducati being asked from from this position?
  17. You would have done better asking while the Vatican still owned the majority of shares in Ducati. :wink:
  18. And that wasn't even his real name. It was something that the Romans called him. Much like today when immigrants, particularly into the US had their names anglicised because they sounded "too foreign".

    Anyway, I take great comfort reading from the Book of Armaments when meditating and reflecting on the goodness of WRBs and speed cameras...
  19. 'Yeshua bar Yusuf' is probably about as close as we can get in English letters. Wonder how many of his followers would try to claim he was a terrorist if they encountered that name without context? ;)
  20. ישוע

    is that better?