Ask a Theologian IV

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by Plotinus, Jun 24, 2011.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. GhostWriter16

    GhostWriter16 Deity

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2010
    Messages:
    22,753
    Location:
    Wherever my name is posted
    At what time did the majority of Christian theology become "Catholic", as in, similar to what the Catholic Church holds to today. Are all of the church councils truly consistent with one another? And is it fair to say that Sola Scriptura could potentially be true even though its not in the Bible if Sola Scriptura is not necessary for Salvation, or is there still an inconsistency there?
     
  2. Plotinus

    Plotinus Philosopher Super Moderator

    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2003
    Messages:
    16,817
    Location:
    Somerset
    Well, first, you say that you're supposing that:

    But what's that got to do with God's actions? If God acts, then God's acts are the result of God's free choices, aren't they? So if the causal history of my action contains divine actions, those are still the results of free choice, so it's hard to see how your principle here applies.

    Perhaps you misphrased it, and what you mean is that any act of mine that contains within its causal history events over which I have no control must not be a free act. That's a bit more plausible but it's still very problematic. It seems to me that if you take seriously the idea that any event which is caused or part-caused by a non-free event must itself be non-free, then you'd have to conclude that there are no free events at all, before you even bring God into it. I take it that you're imagining some situation like this:

    (1) God performs some act.
    (2) There is a chain of events.
    (3) This chain of events ends with my performing an act.

    And you're saying that because the chain begins with something done by God, i.e. something outside my control, it follows that my act at the end of the chain isn't free. But this would still apply even if God weren't involved. After all, the chain of events in (2) is outside my control as well. Does that make my act unfree? Or think of it like this: if God's actions make any subsequent events unfree, then wouldn't anyone's actions make all subsequent events unfree as well? In the above, replace (1) with "Harry performs some act." I have no more control over what Harry does than I do over what God does. The conclusion would remain the same.

    So I would say that your initial premise, that an act cannot be free if its causal history contains any non-free acts, must be wrong. In fact it's clear that the causal history of every single act I perform contains many events over which I have no control, not least my own birth. Yet we don't normally think that this makes my acts unfree. So I don't really see why there's a special problem with God's actions here.

    Of course, there are other well-known problems with reconciling God's existence with free will, but these relate to other aspects of God such as his omniscience.

    Unfortunately I don't know the answer to this. I hadn't heard this claim before so I don't know its origin. Of course with people like the Circumcellions we don't have any primary evidence. All we have is the testimony of other authors, who are uniformly hostile to them. In fact the situation is worse with the Circumcellions than with any other heretical group, in some ways, because these people were heretics' heretics - they were persecuted by the Donatists, who were themselves being persecuted by the Catholics. So we see them even more indistinctly than we do normal heretics. It's very hard to say what they were really like at all. But it's a general rule with heretics that, even if we assume that reports of their beliefs and actions are accurate, we're pretty much in the dark about why they believed or did these things, so your guess is as good as anyone's.

    Not read it, I'm afraid. I don't really know about Zizoulas at all.

    That is a very difficult question to answer, because it depends on what you take to be distinctive of Catholicism. You could go back as far as the first Council of Nicaea in 325, or even back to the New Testament, if you think that what you regard as distinctively Catholic ideas are to be found there. Or you could come as far forward as the first Vatican Council in 1870. I think it is usual to see modern Catholicism, or if you like "Catholicism as we know it", as coming from the Council of Trent in 1545-63. The adjective "Tridentine" is often used to refer to the Catholic Church after this council, to indicate that there was something particularly distinctive about this kind of Catholicism. Trent was held as the church's response to Protestantism, and so if you think that the Catholic Church is defined particularly by those beliefs or practices it has which differ from Protestantism, then this would be when those beliefs or practices were consciously articulated and defended over against Protestantism. However, even then this would not be the origin of them. Obviously they were present in Catholicism before this time, or all Catholics would have become Protestants. So one might see the roots of distinctive Catholicism in the later Middle Ages. Personally I would say that an awful lot of it emerged in the scholastic philosophy and theology of the twelfth century onwards, e.g. the work of people like Peter Lombard and Thomas Aquinas - but even there, these people may have been articulating ideas that were already floating about.

    I'm not sure. I must say I find it hard to reconcile the condemnation, issued at the third Council of Constantinople in 680, of monothelitism with the insistence of the council of Chalcedon (451) that Christ is a single person. This is a problem many people have. On the face of it, dithelitism (the belief that Christ had two wills) seems much more heretical, and inconsistent with the assertion that he was one person, than monothelitism (the belief that he had a single will). It can be made consistent if you interpret "will" in a certain way, of course.

    I can't think of any other inconsistencies, but that doesn't mean there aren't any. More worrying are the decrees in ecumenical councils which are regularly ignored by pretty much all churches. The canons of the first Council of Nicaea forbid the transference of a priest or bishop from one city to another, and also decree that everyone must pray standing up, not kneeling. The canons of Chalcedon ban priests from enrolling in the military or accepting any secular honours at all. I think most churches ignore all of these regulations.

    If you define Sola Scriptura as the claim that "Everything that you need to know in order to be saved is in the Bible" and you also say that you don't need to know this claim in order to be saved, then that's right, there is no overt inconsistency with also saying that this claim is not found in the Bible. That is, the following three propositions do not form an inconsistent set:

    (1) Everything that you need to know in order to be saved is in the Bible.
    (2) You don't need to know (1) in order to be saved.
    (3) (1) is not found in the Bible.

    (Whereas if you replaced (2) with "You do need to know (1) in order to be saved" that would clearly be inconsistent.)

    Of course you might have a problem if you believed the following:

    (1) Everything that you need to know in order to be saved is in the Bible.
    (2) There are no false claims in the Bible.
    (3) The Bible makes a claim that is inconsistent with (1).

    That would be inconsistent. Whether (3) is true or not, though, I'm not sure.
     
  3. GhostWriter16

    GhostWriter16 Deity

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2010
    Messages:
    22,753
    Location:
    Wherever my name is posted
    The best I've heard Catholics on here come up with is the verse that talks about following "The tradition we passed on to you." The problem is, I can't really see how anything is said that the tradition that Paul passed down is the same tradition that the Catholics follow today. Of course there's the "You are Peter and on this rock I shall build my church and the gates of Hell will not prevail against it." Catholics see this as saying that the Catholic Church will never be in doctrinal error. I simply see it as a declaration that Satan will not prevail against the Christian Church as a whole, its work will continue until the end of time. I see no reason particular theological truths could not be lost or in error but the gates of hell still not be prevailing, unless said errors prevented the church from following the Great Commission.
     
  4. Heathcliff

    Heathcliff Tactician

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2006
    Messages:
    304
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Sweden
    Hi,
    I have two questions I have been thinking about:

    1. What do you think was Jesus' worst suffering?
    Was it:
    1. The physical pain on the cross.
    2. That God did not save him.
    3. That his disciples didn't get his true message.

    ---------------------------------------------------------------------

    2. Why did God let Job suffer, even tough Job was his most devoted worshipper?
    And do you think any man today would still believe in God if they would suffer as much as Job did?
     
  5. GhostWriter16

    GhostWriter16 Deity

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2010
    Messages:
    22,753
    Location:
    Wherever my name is posted
    What is the theological implications of Abraham continually reducing the number of righteous men needed? Was Abraham haggling with God, according to the views of most theologians? And was this problamatic, according to most theologians, or morally OK? If Abraham had bargained down to one man, would the city have been spared for Lot, or not?
     
  6. civ2

    civ2 Emperor

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2004
    Messages:
    1,650
    It was simple math:
    10 people per city - there was 5 cities, so it makes 50.
    1. Why 10?
    Cause Noah with 3 sons and all wives = 8, if you "add" G-d Himself, it's still 9.
    Thus, min = 10 needed to SAVE.
    2. For the same reason, went 50 to 45, 9x5.
    Then was just going 1 city per time less, until the very min of 10 = 1 city.
    Less would be ineffective, so he stopped.

    Also, there is a progressive increase in caring for others:
    1. Noah was told about the Flood, so he built the Ark.
    He also told about the Flood to those that asked about it.
    But he NEVER prayed for their safety.
    After the Flood, he was horrified.
    So G-d told him: "NOW, you're horrified??? You should've prayed on their behalf - and that would SAVE the world!!!"
    2. Abraham prayed for righteous not to be punished WITH the sinners.
    Yet, he didn't pray FOR the sinners.
    3. Moses went even further - he prayed FOR the sinners, after the Golden Calf.
    To the extent of saying: "Pardon THEM, or erase ME."
     
  7. GhostWriter16

    GhostWriter16 Deity

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2010
    Messages:
    22,753
    Location:
    Wherever my name is posted
    I've never heard that particular interpretation. Is this something you've heard of Plot?
     
  8. civ2

    civ2 Emperor

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2004
    Messages:
    1,650
  9. caketastydelish

    caketastydelish Deity

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2008
    Messages:
    9,341
    Gender:
    Male
    As a (I'm presuming) non-religious person yourself, what do you think of this?

    http://atheism.about.com/od/atheismhistory/a/PrimitiveAtheismSkepticism.htm

    "As Durant explains, certain Pygmy tribes found in Africa were observed to have no identifiable cults or rites. There were no totems, no gods, no spirits. Their dead were buried without special ceremonies or accompanying items and received no further attention. They even appeared to lack simple superstitions, according to travelers' reports.
     
  10. Masada

    Masada Koi-san!

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2005
    Messages:
    12,534
    Location:
    Osaka
    Eh, I would have thought the use of 'pygmy' and according to "travelers' reports" might have been indicative of the reliability of the text.
     
  11. GhostWriter16

    GhostWriter16 Deity

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2010
    Messages:
    22,753
    Location:
    Wherever my name is posted
    That does make sense, though I don't really see any good reason to count God in the tally, God isn't a "Righteous man" he's, well, God.

    And of course, God wasn't destroyed in the Flood of Noah (I know Noah and his family weren't either, but they were specifically spared on the Ark. Had they been outside the Ark, they WOULD have died. God himself cannot die, obviously (Please nobody cite "God is Dead" theology, its obviously not orthodox in any way.)

    That said, it is not unreasonable to assume God might have chosen a different action in a similar circumstance (He does spare some and judge others, justice is fair but sometimes mercy is shown), so the question to Plot remains, what if Abraham had bargained down to one man? Would Lot have qualified? Or would the town still have been destroyed? And what are the different theological positions on it? (I know Lot was allowed to flee, but that could arguably have been for Abraham's sake rather than his own righteousness.)
     
  12. civ2

    civ2 Emperor

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2004
    Messages:
    1,650
    Ghost
    Your last sentence is the key answer.
    We don't know for sure, but according all hints, Lot WAS only saved due to Abraham, so I doubt he'd be enough to save the city.
     
  13. Berzerker

    Berzerker Deity

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2000
    Messages:
    20,522
    Location:
    the golf course
    So God sends the flood and then blames Noah?

    What a douche
     
  14. civ2

    civ2 Emperor

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2004
    Messages:
    1,650
    Berzerker
    G-d is more than often giving the initiative to humans - and we fail so often, regardless of the reasons...
    The point is - we were given a BRAIN not just for Civ playing. :lol:
     
  15. Agent327

    Agent327 Observer

    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2006
    Messages:
    16,102
    Location:
    In orbit
    It seems reasonable to assume that, as with common law, such regulations were the result of the actual occurence of what they forbid. As with outlawing,say, theft, it should come as no surprise that thereafter theft doesn´t simply disappear.

    It seems to me you are missing the point, which is if there be only one righteous person in the city, it should be spared for the sake of this one righteous person. (The holy texts don´t use triple question or exclamation marks, by the way, and as I mentioned elsewhere it is common only to reserve capitals for the name of the Lord.)

    I´ll leave the answer to the question of Noah and the flood - which isn´t quite related - to Plotinus. ;)
     
  16. Borachio

    Borachio Way past lunacy

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2012
    Messages:
    26,698
    I'm thinking of starting a new religion. Is there any law against it?
    What does anyone think about it?

    What do you think it should, or must, have to qualify for a religion?
     
  17. timtofly

    timtofly One Day

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2009
    Messages:
    9,445
    It must be able to explain the unexplainable in a way that makes people believe your explanation.
     
  18. Borachio

    Borachio Way past lunacy

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2012
    Messages:
    26,698
    That sounds hard! How do I do that? What do people want explained? (You don't mean climate change, do you? Cos if you do, I think I'd better give up now.)

    edit: Frankly, now I come to think of it, you're being terribly unfair. None of the other religions that I've looked at (and I've looked at a few) do this. Why have you singled out mine? And when it's only 4 hours 17 min old. Mind you it's the mark of all truly great religions to suffer persecution at some stage in their history. But in its infancy! (not even that, this is barely after conception) This is too harsh.

    edit2: This is harder than I thought. How can anyone explain the unexplainable? Can God* do that? That's the same as God making a rock so big he can't move it. But then God can do anything, so I suppose he can.
    I thought I just had to come up with a bit of mythology and metaphysics, some commandments, a bit of dramatic waving about of the arms, a few recommendations for daily living, and maybe an insignia or two. I could do that alright. Oh yes, and some promises about what you get as a reward for doing some stuff.
    *NB for some given value of "God"
     
  19. 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
  20. Borachio

    Borachio Way past lunacy

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2012
    Messages:
    26,698
    Yes, you have a point. On the other hand the use of the word is so widespread that it would seem to have some notional value to nearly everyone. What do you think it means?
     
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page