Posted: Apr 14, 2019 8:19 pm
by willhud9
Rumraket wrote:
willhud9 wrote:
Rumraket wrote:
willhud9 wrote:Quite simply he states that moderate Christians aren’t exactly Christians because they cherry pick their verses.

Oh and, isn't that essentially right? Is there no end or limit to what a Christian can be? What is a Christian then, what does the word refer to? If there is no limit to how far one can depart from Christian scripture and yet remain a Christian, then it is a word without meaning. A category that has the potential to encompass literally everything. One could be an ISIS muslim, or an atheist, or not exist at all, and still be a Christian.
A Christian is someone who identifies as Christian.

So literally everyone can be a christian, they just need to say that about themselves. A category with no defining attribute besides the label itself.


Yep. Why shouldn’t it? What objective qualifier would you have otherwise?

willhud9 wrote:The difference of theological beliefs vary staggeringly between someone who identifies as Roman Catholic vs Southern Baptist vs Mormon vs. Presbyterian vs. Coptic vs. Unitarian.

It varies, sure. "Staggeringly" is subjective.
There are commonalities though. The most obvious is they're all theists who believe in a personal God. Then there's the Bible from which they either outright get most of their theological views, or inspires them. They might emphasize or downplay different parts. Generally there's a message of salvation and promise of eternal life through Jesus Christ.


That is so generalized it’s almost meaningless. To what degree is God seen as personal varies widely, to what degree the Bible has authority varies widely, the definition and concept of salvation, conditions of salvation, who can get salvation, etc., what is eternal life, and even the person of Jesus Christ varies staggeringly. To try and force for labels to create a “true definition for Christians” is absurd.

willhud9 wrote:Which is why when atheists try to throw their lack of knowledge about theology to score “rationality points”

Can I win money with enough points? Where do I sign up?


No money sadly. :lol:

willhud9 wrote: by saying Christians contradict each other, or Christian theology is full of contradictions, well no shit. There are so many view points, theological interpretations, etc. that you cannot possibly narrowly constrain or define Christianity, Judaism, or Islam, or many other major religions of the world.

How narrow is "narrowly"? You can certainly find areas of agreement and commonality. The bible is a good place to start.


Is it though? Which Bible? Eastern Orthodox have more books than Catholics who have more books than Protestants.

Yeah, you can certainly narrowly define christianity, and the implication that it can really mean or be anything at all is both absurd and implausible. The fact that there are people who disagree doesn't make the claim that christianity is essentially defined as some collection of central theological claims, false. Just like the roundness of the Earth isn't contingent on some universal consensus.


As I said, the identity of Christianity depends on the practitioner. Ironically, you could consider Christianity a variant of Judaism. But you’d throw Jews and Christians into a tizzy.

You seem to have thrown yourself entirely into the camp that the mere fact of disagreement means nobody can be right or wrong on the matters of what some particular religion is or says. You don't have to think the religion is true to be able to see that somebody can be wrong about what the religion says.


There really isn’t any wiggle room for disagreements. The view of religions is widely varying. You cannot generalize something so diverse and expect any sort of reliable definition. Outliers to that generalization clearly exist. That doesn’t make them any less Christian.

willhud9 wrote:Which then makes the quest for the “moderate” Christian that much more unreasonable. Moderate as compared to what?

That makes zero logical sense. You're saying there is no such thing as a moderate, and that all interpreations are equally valid and plausible? Where does this end? Do you apply this standard consistently in all areas of your life?


Not my point. My point is that the gap between super liberal Christian and super conservative Christian is so wide that to define what the middle ground or “moderate” definition is is nearly improbable. Or at the very best just a useless categorization with no real meaning.

willhud9 wrote: You have Christians who think the entire Bible is a book of wisdom but not God inspired.

You probably also have people who describe themselves as Christians, but who think the whole thing is both false and bullshit with a negative societal impact, but who keep their mouth shut and bow their heads and apologize for their mere existence just because they don't like to be confrontational and think religion is somehow a protected class socially exempt from criticism.


Sure, but if they acknowledge that they aren’t really Christians but just go with it for societal considerations they don’t really identify as Christian do they? They are saying it’s a cover, or they just don’t care period. If they identify as Christian because “my family has always been religious” I’d still consider that them identifying as Christian even if they don’t practice and by all purposes are no different than an atheist/agnostic. Who are you to say someone’s identity is not what they say?


willhud9 wrote:You have Christians who believe in sola scriptura as if it’s infallbile. Two opposite sides of the spectrum. Why is one considered non-Christian and the other a Christian?

Well they claim to get those view from the Bible itself,


Who claims? More liberal Christians don’t. Fundementalists do. Again why are liberal Christians not proper Christians but Fundies are?

so one could read it to see if that is in fact a plausible reading of what it says. You know, do actual Biblical study and scholarship. There are actual words in the damn thing, and those words do in fact mean something. And written words can in fact be misunderstood. That doesn't mean any and all interpretations are equally plausible or valid. Perhaps you disagree and think they are, but why should it be true of the Bible or religion, yet not true of other works of fiction? Is Voldemort actually in the Harry Potter books or not? Is there a fact of the matter about what Rowling wrote in the damn books, or meant to say, or is it maybe a book about gardening, coffee brewing, or astronomy?


Your point is fallacious. A proper analogy would be a biography. Many biographies both modern and historical have taken liberties with statements the person in question has said. It builds up their character, even though it’s not exactly “historical.” But the fact is the character is historical. The same is true in regards to Christian beliefs in regards to Biblical figures (but even this varies as some Christians and Jews believe Moses was a folk hero and not a real person, where others believe he was real, meanwhile others believe he is a combination of wisdoms personified in a person.)

With respect to the people who say the Bible is a book of wisdom, but not God-inspired, yet who would describe themselves as Christian, there is an obvious sociological explanation for this fact which does not entail the absurdity that Christianity can be anything and everything imaginable. They have taken this position because they feel at least in part it is less confrontational and have some sort of emotional connection either to the religion itself and therefore can't fully let it go, or with believing friends and family members. As an atheist I would obviously agree with them that the book isn't actually inspired by any God, and at least in some places contain some wisdom, but there is a fact of the matter about whether that is what the book claims for itself regardless of how many people we can find who disagree.


I could get into a lengthy discussion parsing through a variety of Bible verses, and go back and forth, but I don’t quite see the point. Your starting point is saying that the Bible is the core to the Christian belief system and I fundamentally disagree. For generations many practicing Christians were semi-literate or illiterate. Was their faith rooted in the Bible? Or was it rooted in their Church? Priest? Community? Personal revelations. The fact remains that even today the Bible remains a widely varying topic for practicing Christians.

The point here isn’t to try and defend Christianity as logical. It’s not.

willhud9 wrote:Wouldn’t a moderate Christian therefore then be (at least if our basis was scriptural authority, like I said we could do this with any theological position) a Christian with a blend of beliefs?

You are confusing what happens, culturally and sociologically, with what the definition of a Christian actually is orr should be. The fact that there is a discrepancy between any one of many possible definitions of Christanity, and how Christianity manifests through it's adherents still doesn't mean we have to consider all possible definitions of Christianity equally valid, plausible, or sensible.


So you are saying one form of dogma is truer than others? One creed is more Christian than another? On what basis? What is your foundation and why? Why is a Christian who believes in Jesus and God, but thinks the Bible nothing more than stories less a Christian than one who believes everything in the Bible literally happened? ETA: This falls into the same kind of thought process early Christians had in regards to Aryan theology. Were Aryan Christians not true Christians because they didn't believe Jesus was human ever? Coptic Christians don't believe in the trinity.

I get why you would want to do that for it's apparent non-confrontationalism and spirit of solidarity and coexistence. That doesn't mean it's actually true.


It has nothing to do with that for me. It has to do with identity and self reflection. I have no objective basis to say someone isn’t a Christian. That’s something I used to do as a Christian when I was restricted to my dogma. Oh if you don’t accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior in this exact manner you aren’t a Christian. Except that isn’t universal for all practicing Christians.

willhud9 wrote: Genesis is believed to be poetry. Moderates don’t believe God literally created the Earth the way described in the beautiful prose of Genesis.

Yes and we know why. They want to have their cake and eat it too. Genesis started to be reinterpreted as allegory, metaphor, or "poetry" when it became clear it was bullshit. This way it can still be true without conflicting with science if we just take all the words to mean something else than what they normally mean. So a desire to preserve Biblical inerrancy is overruling accepting that the book contain falsehoods, even for moderates.


Christians and Jews were writing about the poetical context of Genesis, Exodus, Deuteronomy long before the Entitlement. Was it mainstream religion? No. But liberal Christians and Jews have been around for centuries.


willhud9 wrote: But they do believe in the authority the Gospels may have in recording Jesus’s words/teachings or Pauline theology. Therefore they take those passages, and verses with more seriousness. That’s not cherry picking.

What a strange statement. They don't ignore genesis, instead they just reinterpret it, so they're not cherrypicking. Perhaps in that instance they're not. Ask them about Deuteronomy 13:6-16, or about laying with a man as if you would with a woman. And dusins of other grotesque examples of cruelty, and suddenly it's a book of wisdom and a book of... wisdom for another time that we can now today conveniently ignore and forget because it was just totally meant for another time. So it's not cherrypicking. It's something else, but it isn't cherrypicking. It's totally valid, we need to respect the moderates.


You are ranting. Many Christians and Jews believe the Holy Law found in Leviticus and Deuteronomy was God setting too high a bar that everyone knew was impossible. The strict punishments for failure to comply with the laws were rarely enforced in Levitical history. It actually sets the stage for the Pharisee movement in Judaism because ancient jews weren’t taking the Law seriously. Which in Christianity blends perfectly with Pauline theology. So was the wisdom found in those early texts commandments to literally follow or wisdom showing that no effort humans attempt can truly bring one to be holy with God? Many Jews attest that the absurdity of the Law was example of it being more a hyperbolic caricature of what is expected to be holy rather than literal laws the Jews had to follow. Those books were written during a time when Jews were following the laws of Babylon.

Let's all bow our heads in shame, apologize for our atheist militarism, and spread our buttcheeks.

willhud9 wrote:There is no instruction manual for Biblical hermeneutics to say accept all of this or none of this.

There certainly isn't, and as an atheist I would use that argument to undermine the plausibilty of the religion as truly being inspired by an omnipotent God. You'd think such an entity could communicate more clearly. But this is not to say that none of it can be made sense of, and that therefore all readings are equally plausible and valid. They aren't. And we know perfectly good sociological and psychological explanations for why some messages are reinterpreted and others aren't, and still others are forgotten or ignored. Because they conflict with surrounding culture, and with science, or with the readers own views and emotions. That really just mean we can actually some times say that someone is in fact wrong about how they understand it.


Ultimately, without engaging in a contest of apologetics any further, I believe Christianity is a huge entity of a religion that saying someone is more or less a Christian based off of a generalization is fallacious and leads to No True Scotsman conclusions.

That’s my take on it.