1. We have added a Gift Upgrades feature that allows you to gift an account upgrade to another member, just in time for the holiday season. You can see the gift option when going to the Account Upgrades screen, or on any user profile screen.
    Dismiss Notice

Ask a Theologian II

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by Plotinus, May 9, 2008.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. Cutlass

    Cutlass The Man Who Wasn't There.

    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2008
    Messages:
    45,025
    Location:
    US of A
    I've run into the argument a few times recently concerning the Protestant "faith" verses the Catholic "good works" view on how to achieve salvation. From what I was reading it was implied, but not stated, that "good works" generally was considered to boil down to "how much money did you give to the Church?"

    What's the real deal about that? I was raised Catholic, but stopped going to church as an adult. So I don't recall anything a priest may have said during mass. But it seems to me that the "faith" version is at least as corruptible as the "good works" version. And were I god, I would care more about actions han anything else.
     
  2. flyingchicken

    flyingchicken 99 117 110 116 115

    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2007
    Messages:
    3,783
    Does the modern Catholic Church actively vie for power in a sincere effort to save souls? I think that that's a Hollywood cliche, but I also think that it's not a dead horse yet and is a completely awesome concept that leads to various good-time hijinks and shenanigans on the part of authors.
     
  3. mankongo

    mankongo Chieftain

    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2007
    Messages:
    7
    My question is...were the early Christians vegetarian?

    ...So, a lot of people are bothered by the idea of animal sacrifice, even though they encounter the products of animal sacrifice whenever they go shopping. Kosher and Halal meats are ritually slaughtered and dedicated to a deity.

    In fact, I don't know if this is true for all peoples, but many cultures preserved their livestock by only eating them at special occasions. For example, at a funeral a cow or bull would be ritually slaughtered and eaten by all the guests.

    Now if you go by the somewhat popular idea that Jesus was some sort of human sacrifice, it makes sense why he told people (in the gospels) to symbolically eat him. Of course you eat the sacrifice! That's good meat, and its also very spiritual because you're all eating the same thing, having a communion.

    Now from some of my readings of the letters, it seems early Christians were concerned about eating meat offered to "idols." I'm assuming that means meat produced from animals slaughtered to non-Christian deities in traditional ceremonies. Would that have been the only way for anybody to get meat? Couldn't the Christians get meat slaughtered according to Jewish rites?

    I'm sorry if I offended any vegetarians...I myself eat meat (with the exception of fish) very infrequently.

    ps the pharisees disgust (again according to the gospels) at Jesus eating with tax collectors and prostitutes makes a bit more sense when you realize it was communal eating. People didn't get their own plates, you all ate out of the same bowls. With your hands. Hopefully everybody washed!
     
  4. Agent327

    Agent327 Observer

    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2006
    Messages:
    16,052
    Location:
    In orbit
    I am sorry to hear that you took away so little from your Catholic education. As to "good works" vs. "faith", it seems to me that God cares as much for what deeds you do as the spirit in which it is done, i.e. it is not a matter of either/or, but rather of and-and. (Also, good deeds do not a Christian make, faith does. The problem ofcourse being that while good deeds can, to some degree, be "measured", faith - as a state of grace - cannot.) To give one counter-example: While the faith of a man such as De Las Casas (thanks, Plotinus) is beyond doubt, his proposal to substitute African people for Indian people as a workforce (while no doubt intended to alleviate the latter's apparent burden) condoned the evil of the transatlantic slave trade.

    And I do not concur with your supposition that faith can be corrupted; it most certainly cannot. (And while I always wonder why dressed up men, committed to a vow of non-sexuality, keep telling those not committed to such a vow how they should practice their sexuality, I do not question their faith - but I most certainly question their intelligence.)

    I would think not (and I'm not sure if or why that should be "a Hollywood cliché"), at least not in countries where church and state are legally separated - which is not to say that individual priests are immune to the vice of ambition. (So yes, there exceptions to the rule.)
     
  5. flyingchicken

    flyingchicken 99 117 110 116 115

    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2007
    Messages:
    3,783
    Hah hah hah. Just because church and state are separated doesn't mean that that church doesn't have power.
     
  6. Maimonides

    Maimonides Chieftain

    Joined:
    Dec 15, 2006
    Messages:
    1,078
    Location:
    Kansas, USA
    No they're not.

    With Halal, "G-d is great" is uttered during the slaughter. That doesn't mean that the meat is dedicated to Allah. It is a way of showing gratitude.

    Jews haven't dedicated an animal sacrifice to G-d since the Romans razed the Temple in 70 CE. Kosher slaughtering simply involves a pious Jew using a razor sharp, small blade to sever the jugular of the animal causing it to quickly lose consciousness & die. Yet, kosher slaughtering alone doesn't render meat kosher. The meat must then be soaked in water, salted & have major veins & arteries removed to satisfy a Biblical prohibition on consuming blood. Some religious Jews go a step further & inspect the lungs for signs of disease. The kosher meat of an animal that has passed the lung inspection is known as glatt kosher. There are then ways to render kosher meat unkosher that have to be guarded against.

    I've heard your misconception of kashrut before, but the most common one I hear is that kosher food is blessed by a rabbi. It isn't. Jews don't really bless anything. We don't believe that mere humans have the ability to do so.

    To me, the pervasiveness of blessing things in Christianity (boats, water, buildings, children) seems to produce an ethnocentric view that other religions must do it, too. This also seems to be the case with the Christian view of the powers of the clergy. Christian clergy have blessed things, granted indulgences, spoken in tongues, etc. In Judaism, our clergy, rabbis & cantors, don't have any more spiritual power than anyone else. They are simply leaders, teachers & mediators. In the Torah, even Moses got in trouble when it was perceived that he was taking credit for G-d's spiritual powers. Christianity went off on it's own course on these subjects & the Christian concepts don't really apply to Judaism.

    I told someone to symbolically eat me not too long ago, too.;)

    Sorry. I couldn't resist.

    Of course not. How did you come to that conclusion? People raised livestock for food then just as they do now...

    That depends on whether or not there were any Jews who had livestock around. Being Christian, they wouldn't have needed to observe kashrut though. Meat from the local butcher would have been just fine for them & still is.

    If you take a prostitute out to dinner, I doubt your family will be happy about it either...

    Observant Jews do a ritual hand washing before a meal. Back then, there were no secular Jews.

    I wonder if Christians kept that ritual in the early days &, if so, when & why it vanished. Plotinus, you're the best one I know to answer that question.

    I think I said this earlier in the thread, but, to me, the New Testament description of the Last Supper sounds like somebody who wasn't familiar with Jewish rituals was trying to describe a bunch of Jews sitting down to a meal. The bit about the wine & bread is what would be expected at a Jewish meal-minus the part about blood & human flesh.
     
  7. Cutlass

    Cutlass The Man Who Wasn't There.

    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2008
    Messages:
    45,025
    Location:
    US of A
    That doesn't really answer my question though. Let me rephrase; do some protestants now, or back during the early years of protestantism, think that what the Catholics called "good works" was really just about buying their way into heaven?

    Your own example above is an example of corrupted faith. But there are many, many others. People who cannot see, or do not acknowledge, or think that they are justified, in crimes and hurt to others because their "faith" tells them that it is the right thing to do. I'm not saying that they are not people of faith, I am saying that their faith is what causes harm. Because many have faith with no compassion or wisdom. And it is not just Islamic terrorists. Christians of faith have virtually destroyed any remaining faith I have at this point. I would rather be an atheist, in fact, I would rather burn in hell for all eternity, that than accept some of the vile, putrid, and disgusting things some people of "faith" think of as perfectly justifiable things to do.

    I'm in a state of rage right now because on another forum I'm a long time member of someone can't post an article about biology and allow people to talk about it without it being hijacked into religion. some people of "faith" simply will not tolerate anyone to have different beliefs from what they do. Now I have had a lot of conflicts with this person before, he claims to be a Mormon, and if I knew where he lived, I would be very tempted to go burn his house down, that is the kind of rage people like that put me in.

    So to say that faith cannot be corrupted into something that is harmful, a statement like that is just nonsensical to me. I truly do not understand what you could possibly mean.
     
  8. Agent327

    Agent327 Observer

    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2006
    Messages:
    16,052
    Location:
    In orbit
    No one is denying that.

    Indeed one of the causes of (the succes of) early Protestantism was the corruption of the Catholic church.

    Ah, but you confuse corruption of faith and corruption of religious practices. While the latter is obvious in multiple cases, historically speaking, I must strongly contest the first.

    If you are referring to De Las Casas: that is not an exampe of corrupted faith, but (as Plotinus already indicated) one of limited intelligence. The examples you are referring to, either explicitly or implicitly, would fall in the same category (i.e. human stupidity), rather than corruption of faith. Faith without wisdom is indeed a dangerous combination, but the example of "islamic terrorism" you mention is ill-chosen: regular Muslims have commented that such radicalism actually is not Islamic at all. (Which is not to say that the Islamic populace may not express support for acts of terrorism out of frustration.)

    And while I certainly agree that religion, being a most emotional issue (though Plotinus would disagree), can be corrupted - and there is plenty of evidence here, historically speaking - I'll maintain that faith cannot.

    But for further nuance: as Plotinus has indicated (and I certainly agree), there are plenty of instances of Christians doing their religion more harm than good. (For "Christians" you may substitute any other religion.)
     
  9. Roger Pearse

    Roger Pearse Chieftain

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2009
    Messages:
    4
    "The story of Christ's love lost something in the telling when put across by the Spanish Inquisition."
     
  10. Agent327

    Agent327 Observer

    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2006
    Messages:
    16,052
    Location:
    In orbit
    Here's a question (or two): a while back I was searching for a song entitled Jezebel, when I came across a site named The Jezebel Spirit. Who was this Jezebel and why are certain Christians ranting about her?

    Also, Plotinus, I was wondering about this book of yours (Crucible of Christianity?): has it come out yet?
     
  11. Plotinus

    Plotinus Philosopher Administrator

    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2003
    Messages:
    16,791
    Location:
    Somerset
    This is supposedly a big difference between the Catholics and Protestants, but in my opinion most of the differences are really a matter of mutual misunderstanding. “Faith” here means an existential attitude towards God (ie, not simply belief, but reliance upon him or something like that). “Works” is ambiguous. On the one hand it can mean going out and behaving in a moral way (“good works”, as you call it). But on the other it can be something a bit more subtle – a sort of effort on the part of the believer to acquire faith. For example, if I spend all my time praying in an attempt to become closer to God, that might count as “works” in the second sense but not the first.

    Both Catholics and Protestants standardly believe that faith and works are individually necessary and jointly sufficient for salvation. Note that to say that X is necessary (or sufficient) for Y is to say nothing about how they are related – in particular, it says nothing about whether one of them causes the other.

    This is what the Augsburg Confession, the classic statement of Lutheranism, says:

    So the teaching here is that a person is justified because of his faith. That does not mean it is the faith that does the justifying – rather, God does the justifying, and he justifies those (and only those) who have faith. However, it is impossible to have faith without also doing works – as it says, “this faith is bound to bring forth good fruits”. In other words, the having of faith is sufficient for the doing of works. Whoever has faith will do works. So faith is sufficient for both justification and works: whoever has faith will be justified and will also do works.

    And this is what the sixth session of the Council of Trent, the classic statement of Roman Catholicism, says:

    So the teaching here is that God justifies those who have faith and works. Faith without works is dead and worthless. So faith (at least, useful faith) must involve works. In other words, (useful) faith is sufficient for works. Once again, those (and only those) who have this combination of faith and works are justified – although it stresses that it is God who does the justifying, and not the person with faith and works. So here again it seems that faith is sufficient for works, and faith and works (combined) are sufficient for salvation.

    So these are the two claims:

    Faith is sufficient for works, and faith is both necessary and sufficient for salvation.
    Faith is sufficient for works, and (faith and works) is both necessary and sufficient for salvation.

    In fact these are exactly the same claim, expressed in different ways. If F is sufficient for W and (F&W) is necessary and sufficient for S, then F is sufficient for W and F is necessary and sufficient for S. In other words, there seems to be no difference whatsoever between the Catholic and the Lutheran doctrines.

    The reasons for the disputes, of course, were that they misinterpreted each other’s doctrines. The Lutherans thought that when Catholics said that faith and works are both necessary for salvation, they were saying that faith and works both cause[//i] salvation, that is, the person’s own efforts are one of the things that cause them to be saved. And that is semi-Pelagianism, at best. The Catholics, meanwhile, thought that when Protestants said that faith alone is necessary for salvation, they were denying that faith is sufficient for works and that works are necessary for salvation, and thereby removing works from the picture altogether – raising the prospect of someone living a wicked life but nevertheless being saved on account of his faith. Both of these caricatures are of course still perpetrated today, despite the fact that you couldn’t squeeze a credit card into the gap between the actual doctrines held by the two sides.

    I don’t really know what you mean by “vie for power”. Can you clarify?

    When Paul discusses meat offered to idols, he’s talking about pagan idols, so the context here is Greco-Roman religion, not Judaism. Paul denies that the gods in question have any real existence, something he would hardly say of the Jewish God. This is his reason for saying that it is all right to eat this meat, although he advises that if other people interpret such an action as endorsement of the god in question, one should refrain (1 Corinthians 8:1-13). Note that according to Acts 15:29, the apostles in Jerusalem (including Paul) wrote a letter forbidding all Christians from eating meat offered to idols – a letter of whose existence Paul shows no awareness in this passage.

    Still, I don’t think there is any reason to suppose that this would have been the only source of meat available to Christians or indeed anyone else. So even a Christian who refrained from this kind of meat would not have been committed to vegetarianism. Later, it was not uncommon for Christians to eat vegetarian diets, but this was part of an ascetic lifestyle and nothing to do with wanting to avoid paganism or any other reason.

    Actually that’s not quite true – Ethiopian Jews continued to do so until about a century ago.

    This isn’t actually certain. There is good evidence that at least some Christians continued to observe Jewish dietary regulations for centuries. The martyrs of Lyon of AD 177, for example, had been eating kosher meat. It is unknown what the “mainstream” Christian attitude to this was, or even if there was such a thing.

    I haven’t heard anything about this – I suspect it’s another thing that’s simply not known.

    The different descriptions of the Last Supper are somewhat divergent anyway – note that the Synoptics think it was a Passover meal, whereas John thinks it was held the evening before the evening of Passover and therefore just a normal meal. John’s version lacks the words of institution over the bread and wine. Still, the earliest description of the event we have is 1 Corinthians 11:23-26, by Paul, who was far more familiar with ancient Jewish rituals than anyone alive today. But of course Paul’s account is rather sparse.

    Certainly – but as I said, that’s a gross misinterpretation.

    I think JELEEN is using the word “faith” with some mysterious meaning of his own, which allows him to make strong and unsubstantiated claims such as the claim that it “certainly cannot” be corrupted. That may be true on the mysterious definition of “faith” that he is using, but if he doesn’t tell us what that definition is, we won’t know what he’s saying. As I’ve said before, assertions of this kind are valueless unless you specify what the terms in question actually mean.

    Jezebel is a character from 1 and 2 Kings, a queen of Israel. She is considered a “bad” character because she allows pagan gods to be worshipped in Israel, so naturally she comes to a sticky end. It seems that at least as early as New Testament times her name was applied to uppity women, since it is used in Revelation 2:20 to disparage a female Christian prophet. In later tradition Jezebel has been portrayed as a sort of wanton hussy or whore, a notion that is completely absent from the Bible itself. This is a pretty common occurrence. You find it with Delilah (commonly portrayed as winning over Samson through the use of sexual wiles) and Mary Magdalene (commonly portrayed as a prostitute converted by Jesus or who fell in love with him) – as with Jezebel, these interpretations are quite absent from the biblical text. As E.P. Sanders said, for all we know, Mary Magdalene was a virtuous 80-year-old with a thing for unkempt young men.

    If there are Christians ranting about Jezebel at the moment particularly, I haven’t heard about it.

    Oh no, I only finished it recently. I don’t know when it will be out but I’m guessing late this year or early next year. Books take a long time to be published.
     
  12. Mowque

    Mowque Hypermodernist

    Joined:
    Apr 16, 2006
    Messages:
    3,129
    Location:
    Mating With Your Queen
    What do you think of this guy - Søren Kierkegaard

    We covered him in Philosophy class and I really like his thought process.
     
  13. Eran of Arcadia

    Eran of Arcadia Stormin' Mormon Retired Moderator

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2004
    Messages:
    23,090
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    The Sunshine and Lettuce Capital of the World
    Are you aware of any Christian thinkers or writers who subscribed to the idea that humans could eventually become like God in a literal sense (ie, become gods, whatever tham meant to them)?
     
  14. Plotinus

    Plotinus Philosopher Administrator

    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2003
    Messages:
    16,791
    Location:
    Somerset
    I've never really read Kierkegaard much. I have to say I don't like his fideism, which is probably the aspect of his thought that has had most influence on theology and indeed on popular notions of religion in general. Kierkegaard thought that faith was a matter of the "teleological suspension of the ethical", which basically means that you go beyond what reason tells you, take a "leap of faith", and adopt a certain existential attitude. His recognition that faith is not simply a matter of cognitive belief was good, but ever since we have had both religious people and critics of religion asserting that faith and reason are fundamentally different and that religious faith is always a matter of believing something that isn't rationally supported. Indeed most people seem unaware that any alternative understandings of religious faith even exist. I suspect that this isn't really Kierkegaard's fault - it's more the fault of people who got terribly excited by him later on and made him too fashionable. Rather like Wittgenstein!

    Pretty much the entire Orthodox Church. According to Orthodoxy, the central doctrine of Christianity is the deification of human beings as a result of the incarnation. Athanasius of Alexandria famously said that "God became man so that man might become God," and more or less the whole of Orthodox theology and spirituality ever since has been the unpacking of this statement.
     
  15. Eran of Arcadia

    Eran of Arcadia Stormin' Mormon Retired Moderator

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2004
    Messages:
    23,090
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    The Sunshine and Lettuce Capital of the World
    Really? That's interesting, I never knew that.
     
  16. Plotinus

    Plotinus Philosopher Administrator

    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2003
    Messages:
    16,791
    Location:
    Somerset
    Yes, try looking up theosis for more details. There's a nice account of it here.

    This is often cited as one of the major differences between western and eastern Christianity. Westerners, following Augustine, hold that the ultimate goal of human life is the vision of God. Easterners, following Gregory of Nazianzus, hold that the ultimate goal of human life is union with God. Westerners regard the eastern doctrine as blasphemously ignoring the distinction between God and creature, while easterns regard the western doctrine as impiously ignoring the radical nature of the doctrine of incarnation. Of course that's a huge over-simplification. For one thing, you can find the notion of theosis in surprisingly many western theologians too, including Calvin. But it never has the same central role that it does in Orthodox theology.
     
  17. Erik Mesoy

    Erik Mesoy Core Tester / Intern

    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2002
    Messages:
    10,955
    Location:
    Oslo, Norway
    Mister guy who seems to have studied the field seriously:
    How much would one have to stretch the definitions of "censoring", "every" and "banned" for this to start making sense?

    Also, since I don't see it in the thread index (idly, does it index this thread too?), I might as well ask: What was the deal with Galileo? How much religion, politics, and other stuff was really involved?
    For natural Web-related reasons, all the top websites on the search results are pushing agendas, Wikipedia isn't reliable for more than trivia as you among others have shown, and my dead-tree lexicon has more clues and hints than satisfactory answers.

    EDIT: I see now that you had a putdown over here.
    Still, I'd be interested in a longer version of the Galileo story if you have the time and energy to spare some day.
     
  18. Plotinus

    Plotinus Philosopher Administrator

    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2003
    Messages:
    16,791
    Location:
    Somerset
    I think you'd have to stretch "censoring" a bit, "banned" a fair bit, and "every" beyond any normal meaning of the word. It's absolute rubbish.

    The simple answer is that it was a very, very complex affair which was more about personalities than abstract issues. I pointed Flying Pig to the work of David Lindberg, probably the leading historian of the Galileo affair. David Lindberg wrote a short summary of the affair for a book that I edited a couple of years ago. I think it would be within the definition of "fair use" for me to quote it here.

     
  19. Perfection

    Perfection The Great Head.

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2002
    Messages:
    49,755
    Location:
    Salisbury Plain
    How would you define what religion is?
     
  20. Plotinus

    Plotinus Philosopher Administrator

    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2003
    Messages:
    16,791
    Location:
    Somerset
    I don't think it's possible. There is probably no definition of "religion" that includes everything we think of as a religion or that excludes everything we think isn't a religion. As a rule of thumb I would say that a religion is a sociological phenomenon that may include at least some of:

    (1) A social organisation.
    (2) A set of commonly believed doctrines.
    (3) Liturgy.
    (4) A moral code.

    I think those are the most significant elements but of course there are plenty of religions that don't have them all, and there are probably some that have none. At the risk of sounding very pretentious, I would say that what Wittgenstein said about "games" is true of "religions" - you can't really define them, but you know them when you see them.
     
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page