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 III

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by Plotinus, Nov 7, 2009.

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

    Dachs Hero of the Soviet Union

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2005
    Messages:
    32,602
    Location:
    Moscow
    Thanks as always, Plotinus, you rock for making these threads. :)

    Along the same lines as Bill's question above, what exactly made the Cathars heretical? Why did their movement attract followers? Was it limited to Languedoc and southern France? And why was Aragon able to give them military support (from a justifying-this-to-everybody standpoint, anyway)?
     
  2. Masada

    Masada Koi-san!

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2005
    Messages:
    12,509
    Location:
    Osaka
    Along the same lines as Dachs' question, where did the intellectual framework for the Albigensian crusade come from, was it simply a product of the circumstances - killing of a legate etc - or did it have a deeper intellectual foundation that that? I guess I'd like to know the theological arguments bandied around to justify the Crusade and how they sat in the broader Church context.
     
  3. Plotinus

    Plotinus Philosopher Administrator

    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2003
    Messages:
    16,794
    Location:
    Somerset
    You should read The private memoirs and confessions of a justified sinner by James Hogg, which is about exactly this idea, and is in part a satire on the kind of extreme Calvinism which also taught the infallibility of the saints, meaning that if you're going to heaven already, there's nothing you can do that would stop you going to heaven (so why not murder a few sinners along the way?).

    The arguments against the policy that you suggest all seem pretty sound to me. More fundamentally, a Christian would believe that it is simply wrong to kill a human being anyway, irrespective of the consequences, because human beings are made in God's image, are objects of his infinite love, and thus have the moral right not to be killed.

    I'm not sure what you mean. I suppose that if you subscribe to a fideism like Kierkegaard's, the rational examination of religious claims or doctrines becomes largely pointless, because one just has to make a "leap of faith" irrespective of what reason tells you. So to the extent that one is a fideist like Kierkegaard, and to the extent that one thinks of theology as a rational enterprise, the two would seem broadly incompatible. But one could think of theology in other ways too, such as the attempt to articulate the experience of living a faith, and that would surely be compatible with fideism.

    No, I don't think any such change came about as a result of Kierkegaard, and I'm not sure why it would.

    It did take a terribly long time to put together the list of already-asked questions, you know - it would be nice if people at least made some kind of show of having looked at it...

    My theory is that this never happened, since it was illegal under Roman law to stone people in this way, so it seems unlikely that this would have occurred. Of course that didn't stop Jesus' brother James from getting lynched, but that was thirty years later when the social situation in Judea was somewhat different. (Plus, of course, the story is rather apocryphal, appearing only in some manuscripts, and is certainly not part of the original text of John's Gospel.)

    Also, of course, the obvious answer is that Jesus said that only people without sin might throw stones, not that people without sin should throw stones.

    I think that's a pretty good counter-example. One might reply that one cannot literally know that, had Paul died at the age of two, he would never have affected Christianity - one can only guess this, although to a very high degree of probability. But that might require an implausible theory of what it counts to know something (i.e. one where an impossible level of certainty is required). On the other hand, perhaps to count as omniscient knowledge, an item of knowledge would require that complete level of certainty.

    I don't recall the details of the argument about the unknowability of counter-factual conditionals, except that I encountered it in the course of a discussion about middle knowledge (the doctrine of middle knowledge holds that God does know the truth value of counter-factual conditionals). Obviously one's view of this will depend upon one's view of the ontological status of possible worlds, not to mention one's understanding of what it means for something to be true. On one widely-held and plausible understanding of truth, a true statement mirrors reality in some way. The statement asserts that some thing has some property, and it is true iff there really is such a thing and it really has that property (or something along those lines). And on one plausible modal theory, non-actual situations don't really exist. So if you say "If Agent A had been in situation S, he would have made choice C", there is nothing "out there" to correspond to that situation, which means that the statement can't be true (or false). That would suggest that such a statement has no truth value - it cannot be true or false - and that would in turn suggest that no-one could know it, even an omniscient being, since omniscience means knowing everything that can be known.

    This is pretty interesting. I hadn't read it before. It seems to me a combination of rather implausible polemics (of the kind one often finds in Orthodox texts about the west) with some pretty good insights.

    The notion that atheists don't believe in God not because they really think he doesn't exist but because they think he does exist and they don't like him, so they refuse to acknowledge him is clearly absurd. I suppose it's possible that it's true in some cases but to think that this is at the root of all atheism is to fail spectacularly to understand what atheism is all about.

    On the other hand, the assessment of the western conception of God as putting many people off the concept does seem to me to have something to it. He argues that in western theology God is a punisher or jailer, a being who is always watching to try to catch us out, and who throws people into hell for eternity because they don't meet his impossible standards. Obviously that is a caricature but it is what many people in the west think that God is supposed to be. You can see that idea repeated many times on this very forum, mainly as an attack on Christianity. And it is true that the Calvinist understanding of the atonement, as a "blood sacrifice" in which Jesus is punished in the place of sinners, is pretty grotesque and morally indefensible, and paints God in a further bad light. He's wrong to think that all western theologians thinks like this, of course, and many western theologians have sought to undermine such a power-based concept of God. You can see here for an example of the western caricature of what God is supposed to be as well and my response mentioning the western tradition of attacking this conception.

    That sounds a pretty reasonable interpretation to me.

    Surely he was asking for proof that Jesus wasn't a sinner, wasn't he?

    Sorry, I haven't read Campbell, so I can't comment!

    I haven't heard this before so I don't know where it came from. I can't say I agree with it. It may be true that a westerner can't be a Buddhist in quite the same way that, say, a Tibetan or a Japanese can, because they have such different cultural baggage. But that doesn't mean that a westerner can't be a Buddhist at all or find anything valuable in the religion. There may be great differences between cultures but people are still basically people, and a great religion will potentially have something to say to people no matter what their background. That is how the great religions have spread around the world and adapted to different cultures.

    I don't see anything problematic in the notion of veneration as distinct from worship. After all, evangelicals venerate the Bible but they don't worship it (well, some do, but they are obviously extremists). Orthodox venerate icons but they don't worship them. Americans venerate flags but they don't worship them (actually I'm not quite so sure about that one).

    As for whether theology kills faith, I'm not quite sure what that's got to do with the concept of veneration - but in any case, why should it? Perhaps if you are an extreme fideist like Kierkegaard and you think that theology is intrinsically rational - as I said earlier in the post. But why think these things?

    I don't understand what you say about the ecumenical councils - why shouldn't Christians have held them?

    I don't know the reference to worshipping Gabriel offhand, but again, worship is distinct from veneration, so it doesn't really hold as relevant to mariology or the veneration of saints.

    Theosis and original sin don't have much to do with the veneration of the saints either. In fact they don't have much to do with each other. Theosis is the idea of deification, that ultimately Christians will be united to God and become divine themselves, just as divinity and humanity are united in Christ. Original sin is the idea that human beings have an inbuilt tendency to sin, inherited from their forebears. I don't see why these two ideas should be considered contradictory - one could believe both if one chose, and indeed you can find the notion of theosis in western theologians who also hold the doctrine of original sin, even Calvin if you look hard enough.

    Very briefly, the Waldensians were followers of a man traditionally named "Peter Waldo" (probably actually "Valdes") who, in the twelfth century, felt inspired to live lives of extreme poverty and to go around preaching. They were condemned first because they were ordered to stop preaching, but they continued to do so - which, irrespective of the content of their preaching, was an act of disobedience against the church. They then developed a theology to justify this, according to which the church had no authority anyway, and for this they were further condemned and regarded as heretics.

    Here is a short article I wrote about Valdes which summarises this stuff:


    The Cathars were heretics, from a Catholic viewpoint, because they were dualists. They believed that the physical world is basically evil and that contact with it should be minimised. So they were extreme ascetics, encouraged people to starve themselves to death or otherwise commit suicide, and regarded sex as intrinsically immoral and children as fundamentally demonic (they may have had a point with the last one). All of this was quite contrary to Catholic teaching, which regards the physical world as the good creation of God.

    I'm afraid I can't answer the other questions as I know very little about this period. I don't know if it's known how or why they attracted followers, except to say that extreme rigorists always attract followers who like that sort of thing. You can see the same thing with the ancient gnostics, the Manichaeans, the Montanists, and indeed some branches of ancient Christianity which, while doctrinally orthodox, still emphasised extreme asceticism - such as Syrian Christianity. I don't think they were limited to southwestern France but clearly this was their major area of strength. But remember that little is known of the origins of Catharism anyway - it's not even known if they were linked to the earlier Bogomils and Paulicians (or indeed whether they had much in common with those movements).

    I'm afraid I don't know that either. But I will try to find out.
     
  4. Lone Wolf

    Lone Wolf Chieftain

    Joined:
    Dec 4, 2006
    Messages:
    9,865
    What do you think about the concept of Hell as sinners' intolerance of God's love as presented there? Of course, that concept is pretty closely tied with his "Atheists really hate God" argument, yet you can't deny that many atheists consider the literal character of God as presented in the Bible quite immoral.

    (I actually think that hatred of someone is possible without necessarily acknowledging the existence of your object of hatred. There are some people that hate on literary characters - though a prolonged hate for a literary character is a sad characteristic).
     
  5. Eretz Yisrael

    Eretz Yisrael Korean Conscript

    Joined:
    Jul 2, 2008
    Messages:
    875
    Location:
    PRC, HK, RK, USA, UK
    Thx, Plotnius for the reply that you gave. I have to admit that when discussing Christianity as a whole, I tend to get my questions unclear (probably due to multitutdes of questions that pop into my head when I think about these things, which scrambles up everything), but still thx for answering them.

    Your comment on Theosis though, confused me a bit. According to the Augustinian tradition, isnt original sin the cause of man's inability to be divine in the present world? If it is, then doesnt Theosis tend to more or less minimize the negative infleunce of original Sin?

    And yes, I would say that Kierkkegaard's religious beliefs is quite agreeable to me. (particularly the leap of faith concept)
    And if it wasnt for veneration of saints (I remember Jeremiah clearly condemning this somewhere), I would have changed to Orthodox Christianity a long time ago.

    Also, what do you think about Pastor Yonggi Cho, founder of South Korea's largest congregation, the Yoido Full Gospel Church?
     
  6. Agent327

    Agent327 Observer

    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2006
    Messages:
    16,058
    Location:
    In orbit
    I'm sorry to have to start with some leftovers from the previous thread:

    Originally Posted by JEELEN
    Yes, you've mentioned this repeatedly. So why say it again? (And I note that while accusing me of repeating myself, you seem to to the same.)
    You repeated the error, so I repeated the correction.

    Very adroit, but rather missing the point, I'm afraid. (But see the last quote.)

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by JEELEN
    I seem to remember a gospel quote saying not to go unto the gentiles (and Jesus never did). Now since the disciples were closer to Jesus than Paul, it stands to reason they would obey such a saying of Jesus. Yet somehow converts were being made among gentiles; now how can this be?

    So "it stands to reason" - in other words you can't be sure. Now Acts portrays the disciples as preaching first to Jews and then to gentiles before Paul ever came along. We have already discussed this - see here.

    I can't help also noticing that you cite a saying of Jesus as if it is definite and certain that he said it (so definite and certain that he said it, that we can be certain that his disciples believed the same thing!) despite your claim that the Gospels aren't historical sources and are full of fiction and later "corrections".

    Now where does that assumption come from that I refer to a saying of Jesus "as if it is definite and certain that he said it"? Whether the gospels are historical sources is another matter, that they "are full of fiction" isn't something I said, that corrections have been made is historical fact - besides being irrelevant (again!) here.

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by JEELEN
    As you so elaborately explained, Paul - who never met Jesus when alive - had an entirely different view of Christianity.

    I explained nothing of the kind, elaborately or not. I made it quite clear that on this matter I see no difference between Paul and Jesus' immediate disciples. I explained Paul's disagreement with the "Judaisers" - but I also made it clear that there is no reason to identify those "Judaisers" with Jesus' immediate disciples, and there are good reasons for thinking that they might not have been Jewish at all.

    Here you seem to confuse issues (again!). The subject was Paul's views on Christianity. (And why pick out that quote - again?)

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by JEELEN
    No: I said he was a convert.

    I said:

    Quote:
    ...they did indeed disagree over the question whether gentile converts should be circumcised...
    You said:

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by JEELEN
    ...Paul was one of those converts and (possibly, as their spokesperson) argued against such observances of Jewish law...

    That looks like you're saying he was a gentile convert. If you were saying only that he was a convert, I don't see the significance of that. All Christians of the first generation were converts.

    "That looks like": indeed, but appearances can be deceiving. "All Christians of the first generation were converts." True as can be... but wasn't the topic discussed whether and to what extent the early Christians were Jews or Christians? And I thought we already agreed that such a distinction would be very hard to make

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by JEELEN
    It is not a caricature, but a quote from a theologian, actually. Ofcourse Paul would describe it as 'a collection for the poor'; it would be demeaning to one who considered himself 'not below' the original disciples to have to pay for continuing his work as he saw fit.

    Then how do you know? This is conspiracy theory thinking: evidence E is consistent with theory T - therefore evidence E supports theory T. The fact that evidence E is also consistent with the denial of theory T is ignored. In this case, perhaps Paul's saying that the collection was not a fee is consistent with the claim that it was. Unfortunately, it's even more obviously consistent with the claim that it was not. If you think that it was a fee you must provide evidence.

    Conspiracy thinking, no less... but see next quote:

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by JEELEN
    "It represented the unity and solidarity of the church." Really? How do you know that?

    Because I've read 2 Corinthians 8-9, where Paul says this at considerable length. It's quite certain that this is what it represented as far as he was concerned at the very least.

    And because Paul says so it must be true. But the apostolic council didn't end in "unity and solidarity", as Paul claimed. The matter of circumcision, for instance, was not definitely decided upon until much later, when Paul's views on it had become the dominant view. So all that we have is the fact of the payment to the Jerusalem community, which Luther for instance translates as a fee.

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by JEELEN
    You seem adamant to show that there were no quarrels or disagreements among the earliest of Christians; but there have been plenty, as you have also elaborated upon.

    I haven't said there were no quarrels or disagreements at all. Just because I think the disagreement you believe in didn't happen doesn't mean I don't think any happened at all. As I said, I have already explained the disagreement between Paul and the "Judaisers" at some length.

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by JEELEN
    I don't agree. (And I notice that while first declaring my subdivison of early Christianity - obviously used for argument's sake - a simplification, you now appear to do the same.)

    I don't know what simplification you're accusing me of here. It is true that Paul was a Jew and also that he was one of those who thought that Christians did not have to be circumcised. That's not a simplification. And that proves that you can't assume that the people who thought that Christians had to be circumcised were all Jewish. Rather than simply saying "I don't agree", why don't you show what is wrong with that reasoning?

    Another simplification - and an error -: Paul insisted that gentiles need not be circumcised when converting. The Jerusalem based (hence "Judeo-Christians" or Jewish Christians) insisted that they should.

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by JEELEN
    To show gentiles outnumbered Jews one should look at the outcome, not the start - as you seem to want to have me do, but which seems to me an impossibility beyond the circle of the earliest converts.

    That is baffling. You're saying that if we want to understand the early church, we shouldn't look at the early church - we should look at the later church and extrapolate back. That seems to me one of the most obviously daft approaches to history I've seen here - I don't know what else I could say against it.

    Baffling indeed, as you again twist my words. Where do you come up with these assumptions?

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by JEELEN
    And since Christianity developed soem virulent anti-Jewish stances afterwards, I think it is fair 'gentile' Christianity itself considered it a triumph. and I wouldn't know how else to describe winning out then as a triumph.

    "Afterwards"? When? What are you talking about? Are you talking about, say, the views of Martin Luther? Of Peter the Venerable? Of John Chrysostom? Or what? How could the views of any of these people have the slightest bearing upon the ethnic or social make-up of the church of the first century?

    It is true that "gentile" Christianity "won out", as you put it. I did not deny that. The question is when. Did it do so in the first generation or two of Christians, as you insist? Or did it take much longer than that? I have already told you that Christianity remained a small, minority religion within the Roman empire until the fourth century, when, under imperial patronage, it swelled rapidly and attained a completely new position in society. The "virulent anti-Jewish stances" to which you refer mostly date from after this time. Why, then, could it not be the case that Christianity remained basically Jewish until the fourth century - being passed on by word of mouth mainly among people who already knew each other, because they were already co-religionists (and remember that we know of very few missionaries from the second and third centuries) - and this is why it remained a minority religion? After the conversion of Constantine, large numbers of non-Jews began to join the religion for the first time.

    I am not saying that that is what happened. I am saying that that may be what happened, and there are scholars who think that it is what happened. What I am saying is that we simply don't know. We certainly don't know that Christianity became majority gentile within a generation or two, let alone that this was all down to Paul.

    To start with the latter: Paul, at the time, was the main advocate of coverting gentiles - and his waiving of circumcision seems like a clever way not to deter wavering ones. To the former: we already established that the exact moment when Jewish Christianity died cannot be established - for various reasons, as we discussed. As to the question when anti-Jewish trends started (I can't remember bringing that up), that is another matter; quite early, I presume, judging from the infamous "Let his blood come over us and our descendants!" insertion.

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by JEELEN
    You now seem to question your elaboration above on Paul's view of 'true' Christianity - which obviously differed from the Jersalem-based community, otherwise he need not even have argued the case.

    Again, you're misreading what I said: I described Paul's argument with the "Judaisers", not with the Jerusalem-based community. He did have an argument with the Jerusalem disciples - or some of them at least - but this wasn't over whether to preach to gentiles. It was over whether to eat meat that had been sacrificed to idols. If you'd ever read Galatians you would know this.

    Again misreading? Circumcision?

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by JEELEN
    I have not referred to 19th century theologians anywhere. (That's the second time you've mentioned this, but I have no idea why.)

    You didn't refer to them, but the ideas you are repeating come from them. It was Ferdinand Baur who argued that Paul and his faction on the one hand, and Peter and James and their faction on the other, were at complete loggerheads with each other; that Paul's faction "won"; and that much of the New Testament was subsequently written with the aim of concealing these early fundamental differences. Scholars today have largely abandoned this view as far too extreme and going beyond the evidence. I think they typically think that there was more disagreement than the New Testament initially seems to suggest, but not to the extent that Baur thought. You seem to be just repeating Baur's views. As is so often the case, these ideas from nineteenth-century scholarship have filtered into the popular sphere, and we find people repeating them as if they are established fact; but the ideas from more recent and moderate scholarship has yet to filter through.

    Well, I have no knowledge of 19th century theology - only of 20th century theology.

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by JEELEN
    I am sorry. Would you rather see a claim that 'John' did not now any of the gospel texts?

    I just want to see claims backed up by evidence. If you don't have good evidence that John knew the earlier Gospels, then just say so. If you do have good evidence, say what it is. I don't know why you're so reticent on this.

    I am sorry: I assumed John knew the earlier gospels. I assume it stands to reason more than assuming he did not.

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by JEELEN
    The fact that Paul's letters were unknown to any of the gospel writers is quite irrelevant - I don't know why you even bring it up - as a) Paul hadn't even known Jesus, and b) his letters serve an entirely different purpose - as I'm sure you are quite aware. So again: flawed reasoning...

    (a) None of the Gospel writers knew Jesus either. So that is not a difference between Paul's letters and the Gospels.

    (b) Paul's letters were written to strengthen the faith of his congregations, remind them of the Christian message, and correct what he thought were their faults. The Gospels were probably written for much the same purpose. So again, I don't see any significant difference between Paul's letters and the Gospels on this score either.

    So the example is perfectly relevant. Paul's letters were an important body of Christian literature, written before the Gospels. But the authors of the Gospels seem not to have read them. That proves that it was possible to be writing a Gospel and to be unaware of earlier Christian writings. And that shows that it is perfectly possible that the author of John's Gospel had not read any of the earlier ones.

    If you disagree with any part of that argument, please specify the part and why the reasoning is wrong, rather than just rejecting the whole thing out of hand.

    At a) the writers of the gospels may not have known Jesus personally, but they must have heard from them.

    At b) since Paul wrote letters they are by their very nature different from the gospels. (May I remind you of the allegory-myth discussion we had earlier.) It is not relevant, as Paul did not intend to write a gospel, never knew Jesus and wrote letters to his congregations. So why would a gospel writer even consult them? (Not to mention that they were directed at a different audience.)

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by JEELEN
    I made no such claims: I said they knew the texts. (And as you should now, knowing is depending.)

    To say that an ancient author "knows" another ancient author is to say that there is some evidence in his writing that he did so. Otherwise it's just guesswork.

    Since Luke and Matthew knew Mark, I don't see any problem.

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by JEELEN
    At any rate, given that the original Christian community can't have been exceptionally large - they still didn't appear in any records beyond their own - why should these authors not have known older example texts?

    For exactly the reason I gave above with Paul's letters, which prove that Christian texts did not necessarily circulate widely at that stage, even among other Christians.

    Besides, responsible historians don't say things like "Why shouldn't this have happened?" - they ask whether it did happen and try to find evidence. If they cannot find evidence, they are honest about the fact that the claim in question is just speculation, no matter how plausible it may be. Asserting that "X is the case" when X is based only upon speculation and no firm evidence is intellectual dishonesty.

    As I already said, Paul's letters and the gospels are quite different: the gospels all describe Jesus' life and works, whereas Paul mostly describes his own work, which makes them different sources.

    And to summarize: consistently misreading, 'not understanding', but judging and insinuating might suggest daftness or intellectual laziness, yea even dishonesty. But I will not assume such things, on my part.
     
  7. Erik Mesoy

    Erik Mesoy Core Tester / Intern

    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2002
    Messages:
    10,955
    Location:
    Oslo, Norway
    Fixed that for you.
     
  8. Dachs

    Dachs Hero of the Soviet Union

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2005
    Messages:
    32,602
    Location:
    Moscow
     
  9. _random_

    _random_ Jewel Runner

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2008
    Messages:
    6,793
    Location:
    Behind the man behind the throne
    Are equivalently improbably polemics found with roughly equal frequency in western texts about Orthodoxy, or is it more of an Orthodoxy issue?
     
  10. Plotinus

    Plotinus Philosopher Administrator

    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2003
    Messages:
    16,794
    Location:
    Somerset
    Yes, I was thinking about this. It's not an idea I've encountered before so I don't know how original it is to that author. In some ways it's quite neat, as it removes the problem that God seems to treat some people differently from others - instead he treats everyone the same way, and the fact that this is heaven to some and hell to others is entirely down to them. So that's quite good.

    But I think it has problems too. You're right that many people think that God, as presented in the Bible, is an immoral character. But obviously Christians believe that he is not an immoral character (either the Bible is wrong to portray him as doing certain things, or these things are not immoral). One would think that, when God is revealed to human beings in the new heaven and the new earth, or in the temporary heaven to which they go before this occurs, these things would be made plain to them. In the presence of God himself, no-one could have any delusions about God's goodness. In which case, anyone who wrongly believes God to be an immoral character would realise their error.

    Moreover, the Orthodox Church has a strong tradition of regarding God as true Goodness and Beauty. He is not simply good and beautiful, he is goodness and beauty, that by which other things are good and beautiful. So again, it is hard to see how anyone could be in the full and unmediated presence of the true Goodness and the true Beauty and yet be unable to recognise that it is good and beautiful. So I think the idea that hell is the presence of God for sinners is hard to reconcile with the Orthodox understanding of God.

    Of course, but no-one would think that a literary character is fictional because they hate him, would they?

    The Augustinian tradition isn't the only way of regarding original sin. Moreover, all Christians of whatever denomination think that human beings can be saved and come to the presence of God despite original sin (however that is conceived). So original sin can be overcome. The only difference is that the Orthodox tend to see this in terms of theosis rather than in other terms (such as the traditional western notion of the vision of God). And both Orthodox and Augustinians believe that salvation (or whatever) is possible only through the grace of God, because original sin means that human beings cannot save themselves. So I don't see a contradiction here.

    (Also, of course, Orthodox believe that although theosis begins in this life it is a long process - perhaps even an infinite one - so no-one can truly be called divine in this life, other than Jesus himself.)

    I don't know what passage of Jeremiah you're referring to. But I don't really see how Jeremiah could have condemned the Orthodox veneration of saints, given that he was an ancient Jewish prophet and the Orthodox practice didn't exist then. If there were a clear condemnation of the Orthodox practice in Jeremiah, then the Orthodox wouldn't do it!

    I don't know much about him. As far as I can tell he preaches a fairly standard evangelical "prosperity gospel" not unlike that of many churches in the US, such as Joel Osteen's Lakewood Church.

    I can't even remember what the point was. What was it again?

    "...they would obey such a saying of Jesus..." seems to suppose that Jesus said it. If that's not what you meant, what did you mean?

    That's true. What you actually said was "What is fact in them and what fiction has, I believe, been a further source of discussion ever since they were made public." That at least commits you to the view that they contain fiction and that no-one is sure which bits are fictional and which are not.

    Erm, OK, if you say so. I suppose you won't provide any evidence to back that up so there's no point my asking for any, is there?

    Perhaps I missed a page or two. I thought the subject was Paul's views on whether to preach to gentiles, and whether he disagreed with the Jerusalem disciples on this matter. We also took in Paul's views on circumcision and the law, and his views on eating meat sacrificed to idols. That is what I was talking about here, and I was saying it in response to something you said. I don't know why you've chosen to ignore the point I was making, and I don't know what aspect of "Paul's views on Christianity" I should have been addressing.

    What quote?

    All right, so now I must ignore the actual words you use and just guess what you mean? What did you mean, then?

    Right, so why point out that Paul was a convert, then? What bearing did that have on the matter? If you agree that they were all converts, what of relevance can we possibly conclude from the fact that Paul was one?

    That doesn't answer what I said, though, does it?

    Because Paul said that what's it represented, it's true that that's what it represented to Paul. The disagreement here is over what the collection represented. As far as Paul was concerned, at least, it wasn't a "fee". So why suppose that it represented anything different to anyone else? Where's your evidence?

    This is perfectly consistent with what I said. Indeed the fact that Paul was so concerned about a collection which, to him, represented unity and solidarity is a good indication that there wasn't perfect unity and solidarity - otherwise, why be so concerned? So the continuing disagreements are quite consistent with the collection's being, in part, an attempt to bring about unity and solidarity.

    If all we have is the fact of payments being made, you are going beyond the available evidence to assert that it was a fee - all you can say is that there was a collection. How Luther chose to translate the word is really neither here nor there.

    It seems that no matter how many times I explain this you simply will not understand. Let me try to spell it out as clearly as I can.

    First, the term "Judeo-Christians" or "Jewish Christians" does not refer to the disciples who were based in Jerusalem. They were no more Jewish than plenty of other Christians who were based elsewhere, including Paul himself. Being in Jerusalem did not make someone more Jewish than people who were not in Jerusalem; indeed at this point in history there were more Jews outside Palestine than there were in it. So we call the disciples who were based in Jerusalem the "Jerusalem disciples". Their leader was James and Peter seems to have acted with him.

    Second, Paul was involved in two disputes (well, more actually, but we are interested in these two). The first dispute was with the Jerusalem disciples, primarily James and Peter. It concerned whether to eat with gentiles and led to a public disagreement between Paul and Peter in Antioch. Paul describes this in Galatians 2:11-14.

    The other dispute that Paul was involved in concerned whether gentile Christians should be required to be circumcised. His antagonists in this dispute are known as the "Judaisers", since they seem to have thought that in order to be a Christian one must be completely Jewish in every way. This dispute is the background to most of the rest of Galatians. The Judaisers seem to have been active in Galatia, and to have been telling Paul's converts there - who were gentiles - that they needed to be circumcised.

    However, we do not know who the Judaisers were. Again, we don't know who they were. We don't know if they were associated with the Jerusalem disciples or not. We don't even know if they were Jewish or not! I've already explained that one can plausibly argue that the Judaisers were gentile converts who got a bit over-enthusiastic. Now from the evidence in Galatians and elsewhere, we can at least be certain that they were active in Galatia. We can also see that they seem to have been active in Antioch as well, because Paul tells us in Galatians 2:12 that Peter's refusal to eat with gentile Christians there was partly motivated by fear of these Judaisers. That in itself suggests that the Judaisers were not identical with the Jerusalem disciples, since Peter is presented as distinct from this party, although for some reason not wishing to offend them. In Galatians 2:3, Paul explicitly states that the leaders of the Jerusalem disciples did not require Titus, a gentile convert, to be circumcised. So the Jerusalem disciples were not Judaisers - at least according to Paul. Indeed, the reason Paul describes his meeting with the Jerusalem disciples at all is not in order to give future historians useful biographical information, but to convince the Galatians that the teachings of the Judaisers conflict not only with his own teachings but with those of the Jerusalem disciples.

    Finally, Acts 15:5 suggests that there were some Judaisers in Jerusalem, and portrays them as Pharisees. It also portrays them as a relatively small faction among the people there, and distinguishes them from the apostles (as far as we know, Paul was the only apostle who was also a Pharisee). This limited-at-best role for the Judaisers in Jerusalem itself fits well with the evidence from Paul that I have just described.

    So then, we have two disputes - one with the Jerusalem disciples over eating with gentiles, and one with the Judaisers over circumcision. These are distinct disputes although Peter's actions in Antioch suggests links between them. The key thing, though, is that they were with different people. Or, at least, we do not know them to have been with the same people. There is no reason to suppose that the Judaisers were identical with the Jerusalem disciples, and I have given at least one reason to suppose that they were not.

    You seem to have conflated these two disputes and assumed that in both of them Paul was debating with the Jerusalem disciples.

    You also seem, furthermore, to suppose that this argument concerned not only eating with gentiles and circumcision, but also whether to preach to gentiles or not. You have said that it was Paul's innovation to preach to gentiles and that he disagreed with the Jerusalem disciples over this. There is no evidence for that claim at all. Again - there is no evidence that Paul disagreed with the Jerusalem disciples about whether to preach to gentiles. Since you seem not to have read it yourself, here is Galatians 2:7-9:

    You will notice that there is absolutely no mention there of any dispute concerning whether gentiles should be preached to. Neither will you find any evidence of such a dispute elsewhere in the New Testament.

    Instead of asking that, why don't you explain what your words were actually intended to mean? You'll notice that when you misunderstand me, I respond by trying to clarify and restate what I intended to say. If you extended the same courtesy to me instead of making such cryptic statements and basically forcing me to guess what you mean, perhaps these pointless arguments could be made a lot shorter and much more edifying.

    Again, I have yet to see evidence for this. Paul was a missionary who did convert gentiles. It is by no means certain that he was the main missionary who converted gentiles (how do we know, for example, that he converted more than Apollos, an independent missionary to gentiles?). But even if we assume that he was, as he claimed to be, the main missionary to gentiles, that doesn't mean he was the main advocate of converting them. It just means he was the one who did it. And the evidence I have given you from Paul's own writing doesn't suggest that there was any argument at all about the desirability of converting gentiles.

    Does this mean you're suggesting that Paul refused to require circumcision not because of any theological conviction, but simply as a rather cynical means of making Christianity more attractive to gentiles? I wonder if you've read Galatians at all. Haven't you noticed how Paul argues there? I've already summarised his argument in an earlier post. His opposition to the requirement of circumcision stems from his belief that salvation comes through Christ, not through anything else. If Paul only opposed the requirement of circumcision as a sort of PR move, then basically everything in Galatians is a lie - just argument after the fact intended to shore up a non-theological position.

    If you really think that, you're going to have to provide evidence. I know I'm sounding rather like a broken record here, but it would be really nice to see actual evidence for your claims rather than just endless assertions and references back to earlier assertions.

    Also, if you've read Galatians you will know that that letter is addressed to gentiles who have already converted to Christianity, and who now want to get circumcised. Why would telling them otherwise be a way of "deterring wavering ones"? Why would Paul write such a vehement letter ordering them not to get circumcised, and providing theological reasons why they should not do it, unless he really believed that it was wrong?

    Finally, I just don't understand what this new series of weird assertions about Paul is meant to address. You say "To the latter..." but the last thing I had said in the post you quote was:

    How does any of what you said have anything to do with this? How does your assertion that Paul concocted the "no circumcision" rule just to entice more gentiles to convert address what I say in this quote? You don't engage with what I say at all.

    It's not about when Jewish Christianity "died", whatever that means. It's about when Christianity became majority non-Jewish.

    You quote yourself bringing it up - let me remind you:

    I don't know why you call it an "insertion"; perhaps this is another reference to these earlier editions of the Gospels that you believe is a "fact" that they got "corrected". In any case, the verse you quote is indeed infamous, but I don't see how it proves anything. All it shows is that the author of Matthew thought that the descendants of those who called for Jesus' death shared their guilt. Does that mean he identified these people with all Jews? Or just all Jews who rejected Jesus? That's the question. If you can show that he meant all Jews, then this is evidence that, by Matthew's day, Christianity was mainly non-Jewish. But how could you show this? After all, there is plenty of other evidence that the author of Matthew's Gospel was Jewish himself. Presumably he didn't think that he himself shared in the guilt for Jesus' death.

    That's not even a sentence. I don't know what you're trying to say.

    Well, you don't seem to have imbibed much of it then, considering that much of the twentieth century was spent reconsidering the views of the nineteenth, including the very ones you have repeated.

    Thank you! So please don't present such guesswork as if it were fact.

    And in that respect, they were in exactly the same position as Paul, who also met with Jesus' immediate followers (see the aforementioned Galatians 2).

    I don't see why you think they were directed to a different audience. As for the other points, yes, of course Paul's letters were a different genre from the Gospels. But why would that mean that a Gospel writer wouldn't be interested in what they said? If Matthew, for example, had read Romans, don't you think he would have wanted to address its "salvation by faith alone" message given that this contradicts his own message of salvation by faith and works?

    Moreover, there are many elements of Jesus' teaching in Paul's letters. Obvious examples include the ethical exhortations in Romans 12 and 1 Corinthians 12, the account of the Last Supper in 1 Corinthians 11, the resurrection appearances in 1 Corinthians 15, and the eschatological material in 1 Thessalonians 4. So a Gospel writer might well have been interested in this stuff.

    Still, I don't see much purpose in arguing about this given that you've already conceded the point about whether John knew the earlier Gospels or not.

    With what? I don't even know what claim you're defending here any more.

    I can't really say, since I have limited exposure to this sort of thing, but I think it is more of an Orthodoxy issue. Western Christianity looms larger in the Orthodox world than Orthodox Christianity does in the western world. One could find plenty of monasteries in the Middle East where the monks are willing to spend much time explaining why the pope is the tool of the devil, but I doubt you'd find many Catholics who are so bothered about the ecumenical patriarch. This is just my hunch though.
     
  11. Masada

    Masada Koi-san!

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2005
    Messages:
    12,509
    Location:
    Osaka
    The local Greek and Serbian Orthodox Churches have spent some time going over what they feel is wrong with the Catholic Church. To date the we make sign of the cross right to left and they do it left to right has been trotted out along with the explanation for why the two groups do it differently. Apparently it has something to do with Catholics accidentally worshiping the devil or just doing it differentiate themselves from the older Orthodox Church. Blaming the Catholics for losing Constantinople is also popular, but the intimation that the Catholics did it in cahoots with the Mohammedans just takes the cake. Another amusing episode is suggesting that only Catholic priests are pedophiles and that Orthodox priests have never done things like that. Its rather interesting that most Orthodox I know can come up with a ready list of reasons not to like Catholics and being dirty schismatics and probable heretics isn't usually given serious credence - there are more explosive accusations, including the aforementioned pederasty, satanism and cooperation with the enemy. On the other hand most Catholics I know probably couldn't string together more than a few sentences on the Orthodox Church let alone provide any reasons why they shouldn't like them. I don't which is worse, hatred based on fact, or ignorance... :mischief:
     
  12. Plotinus

    Plotinus Philosopher Administrator

    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2003
    Messages:
    16,794
    Location:
    Somerset
    Yes, from what I've read that seems to be the case. It's especially unfortunate given that (in my opinion) where the Orthodox differ from the Catholics in more reasonable disagreements, the Orthodox have generally got more of a case. But this is people for you.
     
  13. Eretz Yisrael

    Eretz Yisrael Korean Conscript

    Joined:
    Jul 2, 2008
    Messages:
    875
    Location:
    PRC, HK, RK, USA, UK
    Um, Plotinus, I was reading Numbers, when i re-read the story of Aaron's staff budding flowers; why did the Israelites say they were going to perish? What are the Rabinnical commentaries on this?
     
  14. Plotinus

    Plotinus Philosopher Administrator

    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2003
    Messages:
    16,794
    Location:
    Somerset
    That is definitely outside my area of expertise! Maimonides might know or at least know where to look.
     
  15. Eretz Yisrael

    Eretz Yisrael Korean Conscript

    Joined:
    Jul 2, 2008
    Messages:
    875
    Location:
    PRC, HK, RK, USA, UK
    And I thought you were Maimonides incarnate all along.
     
  16. Maimonides

    Maimonides Chieftain

    Joined:
    Dec 15, 2006
    Messages:
    1,078
    Location:
    Kansas, USA
    Disclaimer: I'm a professional retailer; not a theologian or clergyman.

    The passages Eretz Yisrael is asking about are at the very end of chapter 17 of Numbers.

    Eretz, it looks like you might be ignoring the context. Read what comes before & after that part & you'll see what's going on.

    Another rebellion against Moses had taken place led by a guy named, Korah. The rebels were jealous of the high status of the Levites (led by Aaron). Korah & his followers were killed as punishment for their rebellion by the usual Biblical ways: swallowed by the earth, consumed in fire, plague.

    To settle the matter once & for all, G-d tells Moses to take the staff of each tribe's leader & lay it in the Tabernacle (tent that protected the Ark of the Covenant & other relics). Whichever staff blossomed would determine which tribe was given the honor of being able to enter the Tabernacle & touch & protect the relics. Aaron's staff sprouted a flower & some almonds signifying that the job belonged to the Levites.

    The other Israelites say that they will die if they ever approach "closer" to the Tabernacle. It looks like they are simply acknowledging what the staff test had determined. Only the Cohenim (priests) & Levites would thereafter be able to enter the Tabernacle without being struck dead.

    As far as rabbinical commentary, Rashi says that everyone could enter the courtyard, but not the Tabernacle itself. The Talmud says that the people were worried & lamenting that they would suffer another plague if they ever came too close to the Tabernacle again. There's allot more rabbinical commentary, but that's enough for now.
     
  17. Eretz Yisrael

    Eretz Yisrael Korean Conscript

    Joined:
    Jul 2, 2008
    Messages:
    875
    Location:
    PRC, HK, RK, USA, UK
    Thanks, helped me a lot there. I think my Christian logic got me stuck there, with me thinking that it was once more a sign of the Jewish (I had just read Saint Augustine's comments on Jews from On Christian Teachings) blindness to the mercy of G-d (you are persumably an Orthodox Jew?). But now it seems that the your interpretation makes more sense in respect to the context.

    Also, a little bit more to ask: Did Moses receive the Oral Law? You know that the Jewish society was once divided by this issue; doesnt the fact that there were opposition to the existence of the Oral Law make today's followers of normative Judaism worried over their entire belief system? Many prominent Jewish thinkers during the Middle Ages were Karaites, you know.
     
  18. Maimonides

    Maimonides Chieftain

    Joined:
    Dec 15, 2006
    Messages:
    1,078
    Location:
    Kansas, USA
    "Christian logic" doesn't have to mean anti-Semitism.;) Unfortunately, Christian history if replete with examples of guys like St. Augustine or Martin Luther dehumanizing Jews for whatever reason. You'd do yourself a great disservice by buying into that sort of nonsense.

    Our liturgy contains line after line of declarations of G-d's mercy. In our version of the "grace after meals," G-d is called, "Horachamon," Hebrew for "Merciful One." Somebody stating that Jews are "blind" to G-d's mercy is announcing that he doesn't know much at all about Judaism. Most likely, it's just another ignorant attack on Judaism for rejecting Jesus.

    I was raised Conservative. I have gone through periods where I kept Kosher & observed the Sabbath, but I wouldn't characterize myself as being very religious at all. My wife's family is Orthodox so I go through the motions whenever they're around. I've known & worked closely with many Orthodox & Chasidic Jews so I'm familiar with their world. I've spent some time in Israel & grew up going to Hebrew school, but I read Hebrew very slowly. I believe that G-d exists, but have no interest is defending or explaining why on an internet forum.

    That's a matter of opinion & belief. Generally, Orthodox, Chasidic & some Conservative Jews believe he did while Reform, secular & Karaite Jews don't. Personally, I doubt it.

    For onlookers, Eretz is referring to the Talmud when he says, "Oral Law."

    We still are.

    By definition, we worry about everything.:lol:

    I'm not sure what "normative" Judaism is.

    There's a bit of Karaite in me, too, I think. I think the Talmud contains allot of wisdom, but it also contains rules that I strongly disagree with.

    I think the Talmud was important because it laid out civil & ethical codes for Jewish communities that couldn't get them from their persecuting rulers. It answered questions like, if you cut down a branch & it falls & kills somebody, who is responsible & what is necessary to bring about justice. It outlined the husband's & wife's responsibilities toward a marriage. The list goes on & on. Societies need codes like this to function.

    For onlookers, Karaites are Jews that basically reject the Talmud as a source of Jewish law.

    I've never met a Jew who identified himself as a Karaite, but there are lots of Jews who couldn't care less about the Talmud. Conversely, there are lots of Jews who intensely study Talmud & try to live up to it's laws.
     
  19. Slim_Shady

    Slim_Shady Quebec Extremist

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2009
    Messages:
    290
    Location:
    Wherever Canadians can be killed
    Do you deny the fact that the Bible was written by con-artists in attempt to take people's money through tithes and offerings?
     
  20. Erik Mesoy

    Erik Mesoy Core Tester / Intern

    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2002
    Messages:
    10,955
    Location:
    Oslo, Norway
    I predict that any discussion with you will be highly unproductive, to the extent that it can even be called "discussion". I must thank you, however, for making it clear so far in advance that you've made up your mind that you are right and anyone who might disagree with you is in denial, even if they've studied the field for years and you just wandered in from the Internet.
     
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page