Christianity confuses me! - Livre d'Or








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livredor
Christianity confuses me!
Saturday, 07 February 2004 at 05:49 pm
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So, months ago, rysmiel asked me to go into detail about what it is about Christianity that I find so off-putting. I've been thinking about this in the intervening months, and I think I'm about at the stage where I can try to write it up.

I am aware that there are a number of Christians (of various flavours) reading this. This isn't a disclaimer, as such; if you want to take offence at this little essay, you're probably entitled to. To a very large extent, I'm shelving all I have learnt in over a decade of serious commitment to Jewish-Christian dialogue, and reverting to my eight-year-old self who got into trouble for complaining to my form teacher, But your religion makes no sense! I do want to point out, though, that I don't mean this in any way as a personal slight against any Christian individual. I am also very well aware that Christianity isn't monolithic, and I do already realize that you could almost certainly point to a Christian who doesn't do or believe any one of the items on the list.

A parable that I rather like: To-what-may-this-be-compared? A traveller comes to a foreign country. He peeks in through the windows of a building, and sees people moving about in a bizarre way. These foreigners are right weird, he concludes, as he goes on his way. Later, a second traveller arrives at the same building. Instead of peeking through the windows, he knocks on the door. The foreigners welcome him in and he finds himself in a dance hall. At the moment I'm being the first traveller; Christianity looks weird to me because I don't hear the music.


Moooood: confusedconfused
Tuuuuune: Madonna: Sky fits heaven
Discussion: 82 contributions | Contribute something

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shreena: couply
From:shreena
Date:February 7th, 2004 06:02 pm (UTC)
12 minutes after journal entry, 07:02 pm (shreena's time)
(Link)
Interesting post. I more or less agree, although I think that the big thing for me is the text issue rather than the proselytizing. It really unnerves me how often a conversation with a Christian reveals that I know more about the Bible and biblical interpretation than they do. Admittedly this is largely because it's such a large part of my PhD, but still it bothers me that virtually all of the Christians I have come across have such an unscholarly attitude towards the Bible. If I were to decide to base my life around what a text said, I would damn well want to study it extremely closely and, for the most part, I don't see Christians doing this even where they are otherwise intelligent and scholarly people. (Hopefully, this won't offend the Christians I know reading this. Will use icon that contains my lovely, cuddly, Catholic boyfriend ;) )
(Reply to this comment) (Thread)
livredor: words
From:livredor
Date:February 7th, 2004 07:16 pm (UTC)
1 hours after journal entry, 08:16 pm (livredor's time)
(Link)
Yay, this seems like a very good opportunity for my text obsession icon!

I wouldn't expect every practising Christian to do a PhD in biblical interpretation, no. That would be taking things too far. But I do find it odd that an active engagement with the text is so rare among Christians.

And I agree with you, that it's odd that people who are generally scholarly suddenly become totally uncritical with respect to the Bible. Now, I do know Jews who are a bit like that, but at least they do study texts in depth, just with a different approach from what they would use for studying anything else.
(Reply to this comment) (Up thread) (Parent) (Thread)
kht: default
From:kht
Date:February 7th, 2004 06:23 pm (UTC)
34 minutes after journal entry, 07:23 pm (kht's time)
(Link)
Yes, the whole "justification by faith" thing bothers me somewhat. I can live my life doing my very best to do good things, but if I'm unlucky enough to choose the "wrong" religion or be born into a non-Christian culture, I'm condemned to hell for ever? And this is the action of a just and loving God? Hmmm. Not convinced.

And evangelists: much as I like my evangelist friends, and much as appreciate their concern for my immortal soul, it annoys me when they tell me that my life has no meaning and cannot possibly be fulfilling without God.
(Reply to this comment) (Thread)
livredor: ewe
From:livredor
Date:February 7th, 2004 07:27 pm (UTC)
1 hours after journal entry, 08:27 pm (livredor's time)
(Link)
You put that very well; this is pretty much exactly how I feel about the issue.
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chickenfeet2003: default
From:chickenfeet2003
Date:February 7th, 2004 06:27 pm (UTC)
38 minutes after journal entry, 02:27 pm (chickenfeet2003's time)
(Link)
Personally I find all religions incomprehensible. For example, how can anyone seriously believe that the Supreme Being cut a special deal with an obscure band of nomads? Doesn't the whole idea of a Chosen People imply massive disrespect for everybody else?
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kht: default
From:kht
Date:February 7th, 2004 06:31 pm (UTC)
41 minutes after journal entry, 07:31 pm (kht's time)

Re:

(Link)
I suppose every obscure bunch of nomads wants to feel special...
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Re: - neonchameleon (2/7/04 08:58 pm)
(no subject) - livredor (2/8/04 06:46 pm)
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Re: - chickenfeet2003 (2/7/04 08:05 pm)
(no subject) - livredor (2/8/04 07:01 pm)
Re: - chickenfeet2003 (2/8/04 08:04 pm)
(no subject) - livredor (2/9/04 09:48 pm)
Re: - chickenfeet2003 (2/9/04 10:37 pm)
(no subject) - livredor (2/10/04 09:39 pm)
(no subject) - livredor (2/13/04 05:27 pm)
Re: - neonchameleon (2/9/04 09:35 pm)
(no subject) - livredor (2/20/04 01:19 pm)
(no subject) - chess (2/24/04 02:05 am)
(no subject) - livredor (3/6/04 07:18 am)
(no subject) - livredor (3/6/04 07:54 am)
(no subject) - chess (3/15/04 07:26 am)
(no subject) - livredor (2/20/04 01:39 pm)
Re: - neonchameleon (2/9/04 09:45 pm)
(no subject) - livredor (2/20/04 02:11 pm)
Re: - pw201 (2/10/04 12:12 am)
(no subject) - livredor (2/10/04 10:06 pm)
Re: - pw201 (2/11/04 12:34 pm)
(no subject) - livredor (2/13/04 05:44 pm)
Non-believers are Wrong? - (Anonymous) (10/29/04 12:00 pm)
wychwood: turtle
From:wychwood
Date:February 7th, 2004 08:15 pm (UTC)
2 hours after journal entry
(Link)
I'm not going to go into detail on most of your post, though I found it interesting (and not in the least offensive). But to bring up the proselytising point: this varies very greatly from denomination to denomination. As far as I understand it for the Catholic communities I've been a part of, you certainly *don't* go around pushing it down other people's throats; instead, you try to show other people *through your life* what it means to be a Christian, and if someone asks you, then you do the best you can to explain things to them. But door-knocking and so on is something that strikes me, also, as extreme arrogance. I may believe that my religion *is* true, but I could be wrong, and besides, who am I to judge others? That's not what God told us to do. Spread the word, yes, but don't bury people under it.

Similarly with faith, I pretty much follow what CS Lewis says:

"the Glorious One...said, Son, thou art welcome. But I said, Alas, Lord, I am no son of thine but the servant of Tash. He answered, Child, all the service thou hast done to Tash, I account as service done to me...if any man swear by Tash and keep his oath for the oath's sake, it is by me that he has truly sworn, though he know it not, and it is I who reward him... But I said also (for the truth constrained me), Yet I have been seeking Tash all my days. Beloved, said the Glorious One, unless thy desire had been for me thou wouldst not have searched so long and so truly. For all find what they truly seek." - The Last Battle


Not that I think any of the major religions follow Tash or his equivalent, but the idea that the seeker after truth will not be disappointed is one that makes a lot of sense to me. I cannot believe that a truly good, loving God (be he the Jewish or Christian one, or another entirely) could condemn people for living good, loving lives, but honestly believing and following something which was not the truth. That could just be my interpretation, but Jesus was not harsh or judgemental.

Yeah. Generally, all comments in this post are reflections of my opinion rather than Catholic doctrine, but hopefully don't contradict said doctrine. I may come back later and talk about some of the other points, because, again, I don't entirely agree with all of what you're saying.
(Reply to this comment) (Thread)
livredor: letters (thanks to darcydodo)
From:livredor
Date:February 8th, 2004 07:05 pm (UTC)
1 days after journal entry, 08:05 pm (livredor's time)

(Link)
I found it interesting (and not in the least offensive)
Oh, thanks for the reassurance! I occasionally worry that I may be saying things that Christians might find offensive, because of the problems I have with understanding Christianity, and you seem to be very good at coming along and being all not offended. This I appreciate!
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(no subject) - livredor (2/10/04 10:31 pm)
Re: - wychwood (2/11/04 04:59 pm)
(no subject) - livredor (2/11/04 11:37 pm)
From:neonchameleon
Date:February 7th, 2004 08:57 pm (UTC)
3 hours after journal entry
(Link)
  • Translated texts
    In the vast majority of Christian societies, there has been no way of getting at the source texts and even for those that could, there was no way of getting as close to the source as the translators managed- after all, they were supposed to be experts. This view has unfortunately stuck in many places.

  • Vows
    Most people don't like to break them. They therefore provide an extra source of strength for people thinking of tuning their back on Christianity. As for vows taken on behalf of someone else. Grr! (They rely on notions of responsibility).

  • Original Sin
    With any religion, you need to explain the nature of evil. This way works. It's both abhorrent and incorrect, but it is logically near-sound.

  • Faith
    If by this, you mean the doctrine of "Salvation by Faith Alone", that's an artifact of the Reformation that has grown far beyond its usefulness and is misunderstood by many of its proponents anyway (see point 1). Pre- the Reformation (and in the West...), your standing with God was thought to be equivalent to your standing with his Holy Church and the priests that represented him on earth. The Catholic Church pre-reformation used this to make money by e.g. the selling of indulgences. The answer to this was Salvation by Faith Alone - i.e. your standing with God rather than with any mortal agency. Unfortunately this has both grown out of control and been corrupted over the years- if one has faith then one should act accordingly and e.g. works should come out of this- although the corruption is to forget this. Good idea (in fact one I agree with to an extent) but one that has been perverted by misunderstanding.

  • Proselytizing
    You see someone doing something wrong and you often want to help them. If you know (and here you and I differ from evangelists) that you are right and they are wrong, you try to get them to do the right thing. At root it is a charitable, if unflattering impulse.
  • (Reply to this comment) (Thread)
    livredor: default
    From:livredor
    Date:February 13th, 2004 06:30 pm (UTC)
    6 days after journal entry, 07:30 pm (livredor's time)
    (Link)
    In the vast majority of Christian societies, there has been no way of getting at the source texts
    This is possibly an explanation why there isn't much emphasis on reading texts in the original. But it doesn't make the attitude particularly palatable to me. It also seems a bit chicken-and-egg; why has there been such restricted lay access to texts through Christian history? It's not just a technology problem of not having access to physical books, because other cultures have sustained much higher levels of literacy and access against the same technological background.

    Vows
    Most people don't like to break them. They therefore provide an extra source of strength for people thinking of tuning their back on Christianity

    Yes, that's exactly my problem! Because it means that people who do turn their back on Christianity (or a marriage, or the priesthood, or whatever) are breaking vows as well as doing something which is considered to whatever extent bad. The idea of using a sacred vow just as a crutch to try to motivate yourself to keep resolutions is something I have real problems with.

    It's blasphemous, for a start; I don't know how Christians read the Commandment not to take God's name in vain, but the most literal meaning of it is that one shouldn't invoke God's name to make gratuitous vows. But regardless of whether you care about that, I can't see any possible argument for taking vows lightly. I don't think you even have to be a theist to see that vows are important. The whole concept of a vow is hugely devalued if people go about making vague vows, or vows they more or less expect, and are expected, to break.
    (Reply to this comment) (Up thread) (Parent) (Thread)
    greengolux: default
    From:greengolux
    Date:February 7th, 2004 10:52 pm (UTC)
    5 hours after journal entry
    (Link)
    I'm very interested in this kind of thing, being an atheist half-Jew who did a degree in Christian theology. My view of Christianity is probably a bit skewed, given that all the Christians I know were on my course, and therefore approaching their religion in a critical and scholarly light.

    [Texts]
    Obviously, this was one of the things that all my Christian friends took very seriously. All of them learnt both Biblical Greek and Biblical Hebrew. All of them agree that you can't properly engage with the texts without learning at least some of the original language.

    [Faith]
    I had some talks with my Christian friends about whether or not God would blame me/punish me for being a non-believer, even though I do my best to be a morally upright person. They all agreed that since God is good, there's no way he'd heap blame on me simply for not becoming a Christian. Some Christian thinkers and philosophers of religion argue that God would actually be angry if an atheist tried to force themselves to believe something that goes against their natural God-given faculties of reason or intuition.

    [Proselytizing]
    I can understand why this upsets people, and coming fromcertain types of Christian it upsets me too. But I can also understand that if you believe that you've found something incredibly special and true in the Christian faith then you'd want to share that with other people.

    Obviously, my experiences have been with inquiring, open-minded Christians. I'm sure there are other Christians out there who are not nearly as reasonable. But I'm not sure whether to blame the whole religion for this, or just those particular Christians.

    I like your analogy of looking in through the window and not hearing the music. Despite lots of thought, discussion and study of religious ideas, I still don't 'get it' and probably never will. In fact, I think I've even opened the door and gone right into room, but I seem to be deaf. ;-)
    (Reply to this comment) (Thread)
    From:neonchameleon
    Date:February 9th, 2004 09:51 pm (UTC)
    2 days after journal entry

    Re:

    (Link)
    Obviously, my experiences have been with inquiring, open-minded Christians. I'm sure there are other Christians out there who are not nearly as reasonable. But I'm not sure whether to blame the whole religion for this, or just those particular Christians.

    I think, alas, that your experiences are firmly in the minority. On the other hand, there is AFAIK nothing inherent in Christianity to say why this should be so.

    (The people that amuse me are the Sola Scripturam won't-look-at-the-sources people (who usually take the KJV as authoritative))
    (Reply to this comment) (Up thread) (Parent) (Thread)
    (no subject) - livredor (2/10/04 10:57 pm)
    Comment hidden
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    livredor: default
    From:livredor
    Date:February 8th, 2004 08:41 am (UTC)
    14 hours after journal entry, 09:41 am (livredor's time)
    (Link)
    Anon, I don't consider this a very helpful comment. This is not a discussion where making unsubstantiated offensive remarks about Christians (or the mentally ill, for that matter) is the order of the day. I'm therefore going to screen it, because I want my friends, including my Christian friends, to be able to feel comfortable in the discussion.

    You're very welcome to contribute if you are prepared to keep your tone polite.
    (Reply to this comment) (Up thread) (Parent) (Thread)
    From:kemelios
    Date:February 8th, 2004 03:30 pm (UTC)
    21 hours after journal entry
    (Link)
    Have you seen this article about Mel Gibson's new film The Passion? It's "one of the greatest opportunities for evangelism in 2,000 years." Ick, ick, and more ick.
    (Reply to this comment) (Thread)
    livredor: teapot
    From:livredor
    Date:February 13th, 2004 08:14 pm (UTC)
    6 days after journal entry, 09:14 pm (livredor's time)
    (Link)
    Thanks for that article, it's interesting. The thing is, if you start from the principle that evangelism is good, things like this follow quite logically. I mean, to my mind there's a lot less wrong with using the opportunity of a high profile film which is relevant to Christianity, than with the principle of going around trying to get converts in the first place.

    Actually, what I find really disturbing about that article is the quote about how exciting it will be to see what it would have been like to have been there in person to see Jesus crucified. That's starting to get to the point where it's sick; whatever the theological significance (which I don't claim to understand) of the crucifixion, it's unpleasant to take that much delight in someone being tortured to death.
    (Reply to this comment) (Up thread) (Parent) (Thread)
    (no subject) - kemelios (2/13/04 08:47 pm)
    pw201: default
    From:pw201
    Date:February 8th, 2004 04:45 pm (UTC)
    22 hours after journal entry, 05:45 pm (pw201's time)
    (Link)
    But those who do think that Scripture has authority really confuse me when they don't bother to learn the original languages.

    The serious Bible reading Christians I knew would usually have several translations of the Bible and would make use of tools like Blue Letter Bible. Actually knowing enough Greek to read the NT in the native language was rarer, though.

    how can one follow a God who would be so utterly unfair as to blame the whole of humanity for something Adam and Eve did?

    I never really saw this as being about blame, but rather about the spiritual state of humanity after the Fall. A bit of a fine distinction, perhaps, since in either case the effect is that without faith in JC it is impossible to please God.

    It does seem a bit odd that it's predicated on having exactly the right views about such things as the nature of God

    I'd be very surprised to see Christians saying that a correct understanding of the Trinity is essential for salvation, since it's practically impossible to talk about the Trinity without falling into some heretical -ism or other. Have you come across this?

    It's really, really hard for me to respect a belief system that is based on such a total lack of respect for not only my beliefs, but for those of anyone who thinks differently from the believer.

    I'm hardly going to disagree here, although, again, I am surprised that the Christians you have encountered place such an emphasis on theological correctness for salvation, although not surprised that some consider it very important for church order.

    One thing which S came up with about salvation by faith was "how much faith is enough?" My ex, K, and I once had a discussion in which she said that salvation by faith was fairer because otherwise you didn't have somewhat arbitrary pass mark for good works, but I never thought to ask S's question. I think that question rather telling, since it exposes arguments within Christianity about whether faith is a work, Calvinism vs Arminianism and so on.
    (Reply to this comment) (Thread)
    From:neonchameleon
    Date:February 9th, 2004 01:11 am (UTC)
    1 days after journal entry

    Re:

    (Link)
    You are aware of The Athanasian Creed?

    One of the three major creeds of the church (with the Apostles and the Nicene- the three endorsed by the 39 articles of religion for the Anglicans (although the Athanasian Creed seems to be in eclipse and have been dropped from the liturgy), endorsed by the Catholic Encyclopaedia and seems to also be necessary for the Orthodox), it starts "Whoever wishes to be saved must, above all, keep the Catholic faith. For unless a person keeps this faith whole and entire, he will undoubtedly be lost forever." and ends "This is the Catholic faith. Everyone must believe it, firmly and steadfastly; otherwise He cannot be saved. Amen."
    (Reply to this comment) (Up thread) (Parent) (Thread)
    Re: - pw201 (2/9/04 02:20 pm)
    Re: - neonchameleon (2/9/04 05:50 pm)
    (no subject) - livredor (2/13/04 10:31 pm)
    Re: - pw201 (2/15/04 04:51 pm)
    (no subject) - livredor (2/20/04 03:10 pm)
    Re: - pw201 (2/21/04 06:06 am)
    (no subject) - livredor (2/21/04 03:57 am)
    Re: - pw201 (2/21/04 06:34 am)
    (no subject) - livredor (3/13/04 08:36 am)
    (no subject) - livredor (3/13/04 09:02 am)
    (no subject) - pw201 (3/13/04 06:14 pm)
    Re: - pw201 (2/21/04 07:18 am)
    (no subject) - livredor (2/13/04 11:44 pm)
    Re: - pw201 (2/15/04 04:59 pm)
    (no subject) - livredor (2/21/04 05:40 am)
    Re: - pw201 (2/21/04 06:55 am)
    Re: - pw201 (2/15/04 05:25 pm)
    (no subject) - livredor (2/21/04 05:44 am)
    (no subject) - livredor (2/14/04 01:02 pm)
    (no subject) - livredor (2/14/04 01:43 pm)
    (no subject) - pw201 (2/15/04 11:17 pm)
    hatam_soferet: default
    From:hatam_soferet
    Date:February 8th, 2004 05:11 pm (UTC)
    23 hours after journal entry
    (Link)
    I love you! Your analysis of faith is SO rabbinic! Letting the converse pass on the principle that forgiveness is good...ah, you're pure Gemara.
    (Reply to this comment) (Thread)
    livredor: hands
    From:livredor
    Date:February 9th, 2004 10:15 pm (UTC)
    2 days after journal entry, 11:15 pm (livredor's time)
    (Link)
    I love you!
    Aww! Thanks badger *hug*

    you're pure Gemara
    Really? I don't think I've ever been called that before! I'm no less delighted with the epithet, mind you.
    (Reply to this comment) (Up thread) (Parent) (Thread)
    (no subject) - lethargic_man (2/10/04 01:05 pm)
    lisekit: default
    From:lisekit
    Date:February 9th, 2004 12:41 pm (UTC)
    1 days after journal entry
    (Link)
    I don't get how anyone is prepared to take someone else's word for what a sacred text actually says.

    The inner linguist in me agrees entirely; but on the other hand one of the most radical moments in Western Christianity came about with the first vernacular translations of the Bible. The illiterate peasantry in the 16th century couldn't really be expected to learn Hebrew, Greek or Latin, and so were theologically restricted by the clergy's version of what was actually being preached. You get a lot of genuinely radical thinking once Tyndale's bible appears in Britain, and people start to take issue with "offical" versions of what Scripture is said to mean.
    Likewise, you get another radical shift when literacy becomes more widespread in the 18th century, and people read along in their Bibles and debate over the meaning of the text. What I'm saying is, that when people gain access to Scripture (in this case, through translation and through increased literacy), then you see vigorous and interesting debate; wheras when people sat passively through sermons in non-vernacular languages, you have much less in the way of theoloical thinking among the masses. So I think the vernacular translations of Scripture have been a healthy thing, enabling people to access new dimensions of the Christian faith.

    I would add that I woud expect any serious mondern scholar to be conversant with the original texts; but of course not everyone is a serious scholar, and I still think it's important for the lay to be involved at an appropriate level.

    (Obviously, vernacular translations worldwide were an important part of proseltysing!)
    (Reply to this comment) (Thread)
    livredor: words
    From:livredor
    Date:February 14th, 2004 03:10 pm (UTC)
    6 days after journal entry, 04:10 pm (livredor's time)
    (Link)
    Wow, that's a really interesting historical perspective, thanks for that. And I love the idea that you have an inner linguist.

    I should point out here that I am not at all against translations. I'm not like certain Muslims who believe that the Koran can only ever be in Arabic, or like the rabbis who instituted a fast to mourn the tragedy of the Septuagint existing. What surprises me about a lot of (not all, by any means) Christians is that they don't look at the original at all, they're satisfied with a translation only.

    The illiterate peasantry in the 16th century couldn't really be expected to learn Hebrew, Greek or Latin
    The thing is, though, that the church had loads of resources and influence. There was nothing to stop them from educating people, but this was never seen as a priority. I am aware of Muslim Sharia schools where even illiterate people are taught the Koran (and enough Arabic to at least get by). And Jews have pretty much always made general literacy and familiarity with scripture a priority, even in the middle ages when they lived in largely illiterate societies. That this didn't happen in Christianity is an indication that access to the texts wasn't taken seriously.

    I would add that I woud expect any serious mondern scholar to be conversant with the original texts; but of course not everyone is a serious scholar, and I still think it's important for the lay to be involved at an appropriate level.
    I think I disagree with you here. I have no issue with serious Christian scholarship; it exists, and have no reason to believe it's at anything less than the highest standard. What bothers me is precisely that lay people and 'ordinary' people have so little engagement with the text. If it's the basis for your religion, it ought to be of more than just academic interest.

    (Obviously, vernacular translations worldwide were an important part of proseltysing!)
    Yes, but being nice to people is sometimes part of proselytizing too. The goal is the problem here, not the means. I have to admit that the Hebrew translation of the New Testament is considerably freaky, mind you.
    (Reply to this comment) (Up thread) (Parent) (Thread)
    Re: - lisekit (2/16/04 11:29 am)
    (no subject) - livredor (3/13/04 09:24 am)
    (no subject) - lisekit (3/16/04 10:05 am)
    rysmiel: bloody theodicy again
    From:rysmiel
    Date:February 9th, 2004 03:43 pm (UTC)
    1 days after journal entry, 11:43 am (rysmiel's time)
    (Link)
    This is lovely. Thank you. You're pretty much exactly on the reasons why I formally abjured Catholicism thirteen years ago, I too have issues, with faith, with proselytising, with lack of familiarity with the original texts, and with original sin; I think the biggest philosophical "yuck" I get from the whole construction of Christianity is how appallingly patronising it is to deem us all evil and in need of redemption, and they say we've all been redeemed and should be grateful for it. Redemption without consent squicks me utterly.

    wrt Mel Gibson's Passion film, I've seen trailers for it in the last couple of weeks, and it looks thoroughly tangled up in its own self-consciousness and self-importance and generally icky. There is no need to retell that story that way again, and when I compare it to a work of genius like Jesus de Montreal, [ which we saw again a few weeks back ] which does a phenomenal amount with how the story of Jesus echoes and has relevance in the modern world, there's just no need for it to exist.
    (Reply to this comment) (Thread)
    From:neonchameleon
    Date:February 9th, 2004 05:40 pm (UTC)
    1 days after journal entry

    Re:

    (Link)
    That's only one (or rather two) of the three standard views of the crucifixion. Substitutionary Attonement and Penal Substitutionary Attonement. The former tends to be the Roman Catholic belief and the latter the main Protestant/Evangelical belief, although the distinction between the two is a matter as to whether it was the sin or the fact the sin was against God that made it such a serious matter.

    The third (and Orthodox) belief is that of overcoming death and breaking its power (and possibly that of hell)- it is a matter of the rules having been changed for the better rather than one of redemption.

    Anglicans seem to believe any or all (or occasionally none (Abelard uncombined with anything else)) of the above... not that this is out of character for Anglicans.
    (Reply to this comment) (Up thread) (Parent) (Thread)
    (no subject) - livredor (2/14/04 04:14 pm)
    kathrid: default
    From:kathrid
    Date:February 12th, 2004 06:08 pm (UTC)
    5 days after journal entry
    (Link)
    Translated texts. OK, some Christians don't take the Bible seriously, which is fine. But those who do think that Scripture has authority really confuse me when they don't bother to learn the original languages. I don't get how anyone is prepared to take someone else's word for what a sacred text actually says.


    If you add to this the fact that the people who actually wrote down the gospels almost certainly weren't the people who originally knew Jesus (it is generally held that the gospels were written at least 60 years after his death, and so most if not all the apostles will have died by the time of writing) it gets even more silly that people take them as being entirely true. They have been translated from texts that might well have been based on flawed spoken versions of what actually happened.

    Also, many other sections of the New Testament are only there because they have been judged to be genuine from their manner rather than due to any genuine evidence that they were written by the people claimed as author. Basically, and good forger could have got a section of letters accepted as by Saint Paul simply by copying the style of known examples of his work. Plus, over quite a few centuries texts were added and removed or 'retranslated' by the catholic church, often changing the New Testament to match the theological fashions of the time. Given all this, it becomes fairly obvious that the New Testament's content is entirely subjective to the views of the Pope that last had it re-compiled.
    (Reply to this comment) (Thread)
    livredor: words
    From:livredor
    Date:February 14th, 2004 04:32 pm (UTC)
    6 days after journal entry, 05:32 pm (livredor's time)
    (Link)
    Thanks for this comment, kathrid. (And so glad you've finally succumbed to LJ!)

    I personally don't have a problem with the accuracy of scriptural transmission. After all, my religion is just as much text-based as Christianity, and subject to the same problems. I can completely understand people who don't want to take authority from text, for the reasons you've given or other reasons. My problem is that if you do believe that scripture has divine authority, you should make the effort to read it in the original.

    Plus, over quite a few centuries texts were added and removed or 'retranslated' by the catholic church, often changing the New Testament to match the theological fashions of the time.
    Now that sounds absolutely fascinating! Do you have a source for this statement, or are you just assuming that this is what happened? I'm quite interested in the question of text canonization, and from this it sounds as if Christian scriptures went through a very different process from Jewish ones. For how long did the NT remain fluid, do you know?
    (Reply to this comment) (Up thread) (Parent) (Thread)
    Re: - kathrid (2/14/04 06:45 pm)
    Re: - pw201 (2/16/04 01:18 pm)



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