Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by Plotinus, Nov 17, 2013.
He was also falsely accused of blasphemy, ridiculed, beaten and wrongfully executed.
I should remind people that this is Plotinus' thread and he should be the only one providing authoritative answers.
What do you mean 'falsely' accused?
According to whom? Are you asking me what the author of Revelation thought about this, or what other people have thought about it, or what I think about it, or what the actual truth of the matter is?
On the first, at least, you're reading too much into the text. You call Satan "one of the most powerful angels and perfect in God's sight", but that isn't in Revelation. The passage you cite is a mythological account of a dragon being cast out of heaven - it doesn't talk about what properties the dragon had before leaving heaven. And it doesn't make any assertions about God's ability or inability to be in the presence of evil. So questions like this just don't apply to a text like this.
If you want an answer from Christian tradition, the simple one is that all angels are creatures and therefore fall short of divine perfection, so there is no contradiction in one (or many) of them sinning. And sin is a matter of will. So when Satan sinned, it was a matter of his misusing his will. God responded by expelling him from heaven. None of this requires God to come into some kind of "contact" with Satan's sin, like matter touching antimatter.
I think if you want a full answer to that one you'd be best off reading Paradise Lost!
One medieval speculation is that it was about a matter of principle. God, runs the theory, revealed the incarnation to the angels beforehand, and some of them were not happy at the prospect of having to worship a human being. They thought that if God were to be united to some creature it ought to be one of them. So they rebelled rather than worship something lower than themselves. In that scenario it wouldn't be about "trade-off", rebelling in order to achieve something, but rebelling rather than do something they thought wrong.
I can't really answer this because you're speaking too metaphorically. What does it mean to "be made nil in the face of God"? Merely being in the presence of God doesn't make somebody omniscient, so I don't see why the mere fact that they're in God's presence should make angels incurious about things. One common view is that God is infinite and that this means there's an infinite amount to know about his ways, and that no matter how much you learn you always want to learn more, which means that even angels who have spent eternity learning about what God has done might still have an infinite amount of stuff to learn and yearn to do so.
I don't know whether that's exactly what Paul means here - I don't know what he means, but I agree that it doesn't sound very coherent.
What's the supposed contradiction?
The obvious answer to that, which is more or less what Owen said, is that some Protestants, at least, think that Catholicism teaches damnable falsehoods that contradict the New Testament, so if you want to be faithful to the New Testament you shouldn't believe Catholicism. You're assuming that Catholicism can be thought of as a sort of stricter version of Protestantism, but that isn't right. Assuming that one thought Pascal's Wager is a reasonable sort of basis on which to believe things in the first place, which it isn't, but that's another story.
Sex, procreation and the Catholic model of the family are all justified through natural law (i.e. we are meant to do those things). Remaining deliberately abstinent your entire life seems like it would be violating what humans are teleologically designed for. Jesus even uses 'eunuch' as a metaphor, yet eunuchs are a product of damage to the healthy human body.
Paul was committed to continence. Although he adopts a somewhat equivocal tone in 1 Corinthians, it is nonetheless clear that he thinks continence and virginity are preferable to marriage in the eyes of Jesus and God. This stance is also visible in the writings of e.g. Tertullian and Augustine.
That's all fine and well, but what does it have to do with natural law?
Did that speculation arise before or after the rise of Islam? It sounds like someone took the Islamic explanation of the fall of Iblis, and incorporated the non-Islamic idea of Christ being God incarnate in order to make God commanding the angels to bow to a human more reasonable than if he just ordered them to bow to Adam.
I see - well I think the idea would be that there's a difference between using the functions of the human body for purposes other than those intended, and abstaining from using them at all. E.g. contraception is a method of subverting the function of procreation for another purpose. Abstinence is just not using that function. And that's not the same thing.
It was after, but I've no idea whether there's any historical connection between the two ideas - it would seem unlikely to me, but you never know!
The point that the angels were to submit to the image of God, the human race, is not Biblical. The chief angel, whatever form, he comes in, may not be an angel as we recognize today. It, since we know for sure, he is not a male human, is considered a he for literary purposes. We tend to state this being cannot be the same throughout the Bible, because it has been described differently so many times. We do know that it rebelled. The reason for that rebellion is probably speculation at any point in human history. It could be it is just another being from a destroyed planet, whose punishment involved being placed as a lord on earth. Probably part of the punishment administered to Adam. It would not follow that a punishment for not submitting to humans would include having charge over them, because humans, via Adam disobeyed God. I think it was more than just not wanting to submit to humans, because the plan to redeem humanity would have been known, and the new lord of humanity has been recognized to thwart that plan, even though doing so caused the plan to become a reality. In trying to make humanity look weak and destroy the image of God they posessed, God's plan was carried out anyways.
Submitting to God, may have been natural at one point in time, but it is not now. It goes against everything that is natural to what is currently human. It would seem that Natural Law has nothing to do with a human relationship with God, but a stark reminder we do not have a relationship with God. It is natural to accept and believe God does not even exist.
Could you please elaborate on the cosmology within which what you said makes sense. Thanks.
The cosmology that distinguishes between the current view that the "big bang" was the focal point between this universe and a previous one, or nothing. Or that the "big bang" was initiated after the creation of matter and space by a pre-existing entity.
No one previous to modern thought looked at entities not of this earth as being foreign or alien. They did describe them as being natural and interactive with this earth.
There is also the point that a law is unchangeable. A "point in fact" that can change perhaps totally opposite of it's origin would no longer be a law, but fluid reality.
It is still plausible that a creator could have installed unchangeable natural laws into current existence, just like such laws could be in the evolutionary process. However with undefined evolutionary processes, can an unchangeable law even exist? Even in defined evolution, what is to stop reality from changing at any given moment? Or in the case of a creator, it is any one's guess what those laws are without direct revelation from the creator, or a built in means to figure these laws out and accept them as unchangeable laws.
Dear @Plotinus (and everyone else in this thread!),
what are your thoughts on the mariolatry (cult of mary? no idea how you'd call it in English), and other non-canonical Christian writings, like those found in the Nag Hammadi Library? How and why did the canon come to be as it is, with what motivation were certain texts included or excluded?
what plant or oil is referred to with "Jesus Christ (the anointed one)"? Have you heard of the theory that the biblical kaneh bosom is cannabis, and how much are you cringing right now? how likely is it that the "anointing oil" that is referred had some sort of psychedelic/halucinogenic properties? furthermore, do you know about entheogen use in early (or later) Christian cults or "mainstream" Christianity?
(I know it's vice, just for the funsies)
Lastly, do you know about many facets of Christendom that originally weren't canonical, or even part of Christianity, but that were accepted/canonized because it made the assimilation of other naturalistic/pagan religious groups into Christianity easier?
To save Plotinus a bit of typing, I thought I could step in.
Anointing was just a ritual to sanctify, bless or cure someone, and is also used to sanctify and bless kings, chiefs and other rulers. For the Jews particularly, seeing as how both Saul and David were anointed according to the scriptures, why shouldn't the Messiah -- and the son of God -- be anointed?
Wikipedia: Holy anointing oil
And about Kaneh bosem:
Plotinus can of course speak for himself, but it does seem rather unlikely that it's cannabis, no?
Celebrating Christ-mass on the 25th of December is the obvious one, I suppose.
In addition many of the different Saints and/or what they were supposed to have done can probably also fit the bill. Midsummer is called «St. John's evening» (in Norway and Denmark, at least). And Halloween -- All Saints' Eve -- has most of it's roots in Celtic traditions.
A bit belatedly, but I have to point out that it doesn't anymore.
It's not a -latry
-doulia for saints
hyperdoulia for the Virgin
latry for God alone.
According to the RCC.
On top of what cheetah posted, I have to point out that usually in Mediterranean culture oil is olive oil. In fact ‘olive’ and ‘oil’ share an etymological root, because they were both so closely associated (in Arabic it's still zaitun, too, which yields modern -Castilian- Spanish aceituna and aceite - it's related to the word zayit quoted by Cheetah). I don't know whether it's actually specified in Biblical texts at all.
Those are two separate questions. The veneration of Mary developed over the first few centuries of Christianity - or even longer, really - I think as a result of internal logic rather than external influence. Much of it, e.g. the insistence on Mary's perpetual virginity (even in parturition!) surely had a lot to do with weird attitudes to sex and the female body, but all of that is too familiar a story to need rehearsing now, I'm sure.
On the issue of the canon, it really evolved as a reflection of usage. From an early stage, Christians seem to have used certain books both liturgically and in private reading; they were simply what they had. Within a century or two there was a de facto uniformity of use throughout the Christian world - at least to some degree. Most of what we recognise today as the New Testament was regarded as authoritative by most churches, but this uniformity wasn't absolute - e.g. some churches did not recognise the book of Revelation, and others were suspicious of Hebrews. The Marcionites rejected most of it, while many Gnostic groups, as well as the Montanists, had lots of extra books. The criterion that was used when these things came to be settled was apostolic authorship. Books were regarded as canonical if they were written by apostles, and spurious if they were not.
Clearly the church got quite a lot of this wrong, at least by the judgements of most modern New Testament scholars, as the only New Testament books that can be comfortably called "apostolic" are seven of the fourteen texts attributed to Paul. However, the church was more correct than one might initially think, if historical reliability is the criterion. Because the writings that did make into the canon are, for the most part, earlier and more useful for understanding both Jesus and the earliest Christians than any writings that did not make it into the canon. When it comes to Gospels, in particular, the four in the New Testament have vastly more claim to historicity than any non-canonical ones. That's particularly true for the Synoptics (the first three), but even John's Gospel seems much less legendary in nature than most of the non-canonical ones.
To be honest I'm not sure I can think of anything that was accepted or canonised specifically in order to make the assimilation of other religious groups easier. It may indeed be the case, as people often say, that Christmas was dated to 25 December in order to co-opt some earlier festival, but I don't think there's any real evidence that this was done deliberately if it was done at all. In early medieval Europe, the usual approach of missionaries was not to assimilate pagan practices but to aggressively rebel against them - e.g. Boniface's habit of chopping down trees that were held to be holy and building chapels in their places. At least some Christians were prepared to tolerate non-Christian cultural traditions where they didn't seem to be of religious significance - e.g. Pope Nicholas I's ruling that the Bulgars were allowed to carry on wearing trousers even after conversion, but they were not allowed to use magical stones for curing illnesses - but this wasn't a matter of assimilating those practices into Christianity as a part of it, it was just a matter of allowing them to continue. I would suspect that where pagan religious practices continued in a Christianised form, it wasn't because anyone deliberately encouraged them to make the transition to Christianity easier - it was because people just carried on doing things that they were familiar with or that they thought were important, and they just acquired Christian meanings as time went on.
From the Epistles of the Pope Gregory the Great, from 601 AD, Book XI, Letter 76,
This was the top-down directive for the strategy how to christianise and to deal with pagan stuff.
Saint Servatius, born in Armenia, who died in 384 AD in Maastricht (NL), and later the family Saint of the Carolingian dynasty, applied AFAIK that principle already. The St Servatius basilisk in Maastricht was build on his burial chapel, on a Roman temple.
See also: St. Martin of Tours
What are the aspects of a text that make you feel it is more historical, or conversely, more legendary? The obvious one is that texts written closer to the described events can make a greater claim for historicity. I would also guess that the more supernatural the described events seem, the more people would put it into the legendary realm. But beyond that, are the any other criteria you would apply?
You're quite right of course - I had a feeling that Gregory had written something like this but couldn't place it. I think though it's worth pointing out that what he recommends is the transformation of pagan practices, not their uncritical adoption.
Well, one obvious criterion is that the text portrays Jesus in ways that are not anachronistic and which do not contradict what we know of first-century Galilean Jews (not that that is a huge amount). Any text in which Jesus warns against - or endorses - beliefs or practices which arose much later is obviously suspect, as is any text in which Jesus predicts detailed events that occurred much later. Most fundamentally, the more you can answer "yes" to the question: "Would a later writer have had a strong motive to make this passage up?" the more historically suspect the text, and the more you can answer "no" to it, the less suspect it is. The canonical Gospels contain quite a lot of stuff that you would not expect later writers to invent (e.g. things Jesus says that are embarrassing, such as predicting the end of the world within a generation) and which therefore seem prima facie probably authentic. You can't generally say this of e.g. the second-century Gnostic gospels.
Separate names with a comma.