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Ask a Theologian

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by Plotinus, Feb 13, 2007.

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  1. Plotinus

    Plotinus Philosopher Administrator

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    Well, I don't know enough about that period to be able to give you a reliable answer, but this is the sort of thing that Reformation scholars spend much time debating. One important thing to bear in mind here is that at that time - and indeed at most periods before now, possibly including now - you couldn't really distinguish between theological factors and other factors. Everything was so closely bound up together. I mean, you can't distinguish between "inside the church" and "the surroundings"; the church was everything and everything was the church. This is why popular presentations of, say, the Galileo affair are misleading; it wasn't Galileo versus the church, because Galileo was part of the church. It was some elements of the church versus other elements of the church. The same is true of the Reformation.

    That said, I think that in many ways the church was in a pretty bad state by the time of the Reformation; it's hardly surprising that something major happened. But then, was it in a worse state than (say) the mid-fourteenth century? Hard to see how it was. So why did Luther have such a different career from Wycliffe? You can certainly point to (partly) non-theological factors, such as the fact that Luther was protected by local rulers. And other German princes endorsed his movement enthusiastically, simply because it was a means of asserting their own authority, not because they particularly agreed with or even understood his ideas. Plus I'd say that Luther was simply a more able thinker than Wycliffe (whose book on universals is one of the weirdest pieces of philosophy I have ever read).

    But all of this is true of any large and complex historical phenomenon, religious or otherwise. You can't usually isolate particular events and say these were the ones that caused it; it was caused by all of them.
     
  2. zxcvbnm

    zxcvbnm The Nobody

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    The concept of a good God is one of the essentials of christianity. However, in the Bible there are more than just a few sections where that goodness and morality can be seen at least disputable:

    The promise to not destroy the world again after the Flood - the Revelation's clear "God's wrath" and the following destruction of the world. The promise has been translated as literal in defense against this argument, but in that case it could be seen quite deceptive.

    The commandment not to kill - numerous situations where deaths can be clearly liked to divine intervention according to the Bible, among them the deaths of dozens of children who only mocked a prophet, and Job's family, who died because their relative was too perfect

    The decision to make David count the people of Israel - the passage where Satan is accused of this

    And many others.

    Is there any objective morality in christianity, if there is, then what is it, as such things can be tolerated from a good god, or is this just a misunderstanding?
     
  3. C~G

    C~G Untouchable

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    Exactly.

    However it shouldn't derail us from trying to find possible critical factors in the process of change that might have given that extra push compared to other times which made it all happen.

    I really wanted to hear your input to the issue and I appreciate your answer.
    :)
     
  4. Mark Young

    Mark Young Formerly Sir Eric

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    Sorry if my questions have been asked before, but this thread requires a lot of time to read.

    1). I'm a big fan of Josephus. Even though he deals with what is primarily OT topics, what influences do you see his writings have had in the shaping of modern Christianity, and do you agree with this influence?

    2). What, if any, do you identify as the main theological discrepencies that you see in modern Christianity?

    3) As a theologan, how do you interpret speaking in tongues, laying on of hands, faith crusades and other activites that are hallmarks of the Pentecostal Demonination?

    I have others, but 3 is enough for now. :)
     
  5. Plotinus

    Plotinus Philosopher Administrator

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    Christianity isn't the same thing as the Bible and certainly not the same thing as the Old Testament. Most Christians would agree that the kind of behaviour you describe is wrong, but they would probably say that these passages are not to be taken literally; or that they really did happen but reflect special circumstances of the time; or that they reflect primitive notions of God or morality which later Judaism and Christianity moved away from. The Bible is not one book but a collection, and each book reflects only its author's beliefs; it's not legitimate to treat them as a single book and conclude that it's inconsistent. Certainly Christians aren't obliged to think that all this stuff really happened or that the portrayal of God it offers is the correct one.

    I don't think Josephus really had any influence upon Christianity to speak of; he was a historian, not a theologian, and he certainly wasn't a Christian. There is a well-known passage in his work about Jesus, but it's generally accepted that this is a Christian interpolation (no way would Josephus have really stated that Jesus was the Messiah) - although presumably there was an authentic reference to Jesus there originally. So I'm not sure what supposed influence you're thinking of, although I don't know a whole lot about Josephus so I'm willing to be educated.

    I'm not sure what you mean by "discrepancies"! Do you mean inconsistencies?

    Again, I'm not sure what you mean by "interpret". They're just things that people do. I'm sure that the "supernatural" manifestations such as speaking in tongues can be explained pretty well as natural phenomena such as group hysteria and the like. Pentecostalism isn't a denomination, though - it's a movement or tendency which is found in many denominations.
     
  6. Erik Mesoy

    Erik Mesoy Core Tester / Intern

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    murder

    10char
     
  7. Plotinus

    Plotinus Philosopher Administrator

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    The word found in Exodus 20:13 is raw-tsak, and it can be translated as either "kill" or "murder". "Kill" is probably better, because the same word is used in other verses - such as Deuteronomy 4:42 - to refer to unintentional killing, so its meaning is clearer wider than just murder.

    Thomas More pointed out a nice problem with interpreting this as a prohibition upon murder rather than killing in general. The difference between murder and killing is a legal one, which is established by the state; something which is considered murder in one country (or period of history) may be considered lawful killing in another. If you say that there's a moral difference between killing which is not sanctioned by the state (ie, murder) and killing which is sanctioned by the state (eg, capital punishment), then you're making the state the arbiter of what is morally acceptable. But morality shouldn't be that arbitrary - you can't leave it up to the state to say which sorts of killing are morally all right and which aren't. For example, if you had an unjust government which made it legal to kill anyone with red hair, then killing someone with red hair would not be murder. But it would still be wrong. Therefore the distinction between rightness and wrongness has nothing to do with what the state says. Of course it was a bit rich of Thomas More, of all people, to talk like that given that he ordered the execution of Protestants, but there you go.
     
  8. zxcvbnm

    zxcvbnm The Nobody

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    Kill in the version I use. Not murder

    "Älä tapa"

    = Thou shalt not kill
     
  9. Erik Mesoy

    Erik Mesoy Core Tester / Intern

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    I have two versions that say both; my opinion on the subject is derived partly from Israelite9191 who tells me that on rabbinical authority, it's been unanimously "murder" for thousands of years before the Church started messing with the translations and put in "kill" for whatever reason. Not from him but from my own experience, it seems that the newer translations are heading back to "murder" again, possible because this debate keeps springing up. (e.g. KJV "kill", -> NKJV "murder".)
    Footnote: A count of English translations on www.biblegateway.com is 2 to 1 in favor of "murder".

    Thomas More's argument seems to rest on the state being the final arbiter of life and death. Does anyone else see a problem with this?
     
  10. Plotinus

    Plotinus Philosopher Administrator

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    The problem is that the same word appears elsewhere clearly meaning "kill" and not murder, so it's at best ambiguous. It's not a matter of what different translations say, whether Jewish or Christian, but of how the word is used, and there is no clear answer there. I can't help pointing out that the text in question only came into existence a few hundred years before Jesus was around, so I'm not sure how there could have been any interpretations of it "thousands of years" before the church.

    As for More, his argument was meant to be against the state's being the final arbiter of life and death - it's meant as an argument against capital punishment, the point being that God instructs us not to kill, so the state can't set out conditions under which killing is permissible - otherwise the state is really the one giving the orders, not God. The argument appears in Utopia, but as I say, it's hard to see any evidence in More's own life that he actually accepted it himself.
     
  11. Erik Mesoy

    Erik Mesoy Core Tester / Intern

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    Before the church started messing around with the translation was the impression I got, not before the church existed.
     
  12. Eran of Arcadia

    Eran of Arcadia Stormin' Mormon Retired Moderator

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    The problem I have with it being "kill" is the fact that in many other books of the OT the Israelites are in fact commanded to kill individuals and members of groups; how is that to be reconciled with an interpretation of the commandment as "don't kill"?
     
  13. Elrohir

    Elrohir RELATIONAL VALORIZATION

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    But the word used in Exodus 20 for kill is râtsach. (H7523 in the Strong's) I can't find this word used anywhere except to refer to an illegal killing. It can refer to a sort of manslaughter type thing in Numbers and Dueteronomy, but that seems to be the mildest form. (Still illegal, though - all the passages I saw were talking about how a man who did this could flee to a certain city to hide) Elsewhere it's grouped with stealing, adultery and idolatry (Jer. 7:9) with swearing, lying, stealing, and adultery (Hos. 4:2)

    Am I missing something, or is ratsach actually used to refer to killing in a general sense somewhere, instead of specifically murder?
     
  14. Zenon_pt

    Zenon_pt Civing on the real world

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    Don't if it was already ask, but: Why Christianaty create the anti-christ (the devel), if in others religion there are none? Or are there?
     
  15. SS-18 ICBM

    SS-18 ICBM Oscillator

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    How would you respond to this?
    "Theology has justifications for anything God does, no matter how heinous it might seem to be."
     
  16. Erik Mesoy

    Erik Mesoy Core Tester / Intern

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    The Book of Job says:
    "Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and the Adversary [Satan] also came among them"

    Is that the sort of thing you're looking for?
     
  17. Berzerker

    Berzerker Warlord

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    Okay, I got a tough one unfortunately and I dont know if I can ask it properly

    In "Hamlet's Mill" a German author is cited who did a study of Dante's Inferno and his sources (Virgil?) concluding that Dante's description of approaching the red (river?) gates of Hades or Purgatory was from the perspective of someone leaving Heaven.

    Put another way, Dante describes a celestial voyage thru the layers of Heaven and Hell, but the transition from Heaven to Hell is marked by a red river with 2 guardians and he describes entering this transition zone coming from Heaven. What do you make of all that? Who was Dante's oldest source for his story? I know it goes back to the Romans and Greeks but does it go back further?
     
  18. Zenon_pt

    Zenon_pt Civing on the real world

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    No.
    More the real reason why human have the need to personify evil in an entity, more precisely in Christianity. While other religions are not mentioned of it. That's why I ask! Quite :confused: nes pa?
     
  19. RulerOfDaPeople

    RulerOfDaPeople Chieftain

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    If I make take an attempt at this one, one of the 10 commandments is: "Thou shalt have no other Gods before me." It also says somewhere else in the bible that God is a very jealous God and not to worship false idols or make gold/jewel idols for yourself (Buddhists do this frequently). So my assertion is that he may be patient with those of other religions (out of love for his creation/children), but not tolerent of other religions.
     
  20. RulerOfDaPeople

    RulerOfDaPeople Chieftain

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    I have a question:

    Why is it seen that someone cannot believe in both religion and science at the same time?

    And could Darwin be considered the founder of a religion (in a sense) considering that those who do not believe in an established traditional religion swear by, and follow his teachings ademently through what they read in books? Could Darwin be a "profit" of atheism?
     
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