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Three Centuries Of Christian Atrocities
#51

Three Centuries Of Christian Atrocities
(03-09-2020, 10:40 PM)SteveII Wrote: The meaning of any writing is not relative to the reader. It is the intended meaning of the author that governs meaning of the words. While it might not always be clear what the writer meant, it does mean that all interpretations are not created equal and only one is essentially correct.

None may be correct.

Quote:If there is only one correct meaning, then the ideology remains objective whether it is correctly interpreted or not. This last point is important. There is only one meaning.

There may be, but it is not the case that anyone has sussed it out.  That in  no way makes it objective.
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Science is about answering questions.
Theology is about avoiding questions.
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#52

Three Centuries Of Christian Atrocities
(03-09-2020, 10:40 PM)SteveII Wrote: . If there is only one correct meaning, then the ideology remains objective whether it is correctly interpreted or not. This last point is important. There is only one meaning.

There may be only one intended meaning, but seeing as we don't really have access to that and denominations, and even teachers within those denominations interpret things differently and claim they have the truth, they are then making their own ideology supposedly led by the same spirit of god.  

Your view on what a scripture means is as fallible as theirs, it was humans who wrote it and humans who decide what it means further down the line, each feeling satisfied that their own interpretation is the one endowed with gods wisdom, while still remaining Christians in their own understanding.  Right now we have no reason to believe that one person has a better interpretation than another because each claims the bible teaches with clarity, is one unified theme inspired by god, and they can be sure that they have it right because the holy spirit leads them.
Those who ask a lot of questions may seem stupid, but those who don't ask questions stay stupid.
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#53

Three Centuries Of Christian Atrocities
A religious belief only works in providing the world with peace when everyone adheres to the same religious belief. That can never happen, despite Joseph Campbell's unrealistic optimism.
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#54

Three Centuries Of Christian Atrocities
(03-11-2020, 12:07 PM)Phaedrus Wrote: A religious belief only works in providing the world with peace when everyone adheres to the same religious belief. That can never happen, despite Joseph Campbell's unrealistic optimism.

You mean it's a myth? Big Grin
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#55

Three Centuries Of Christian Atrocities
(03-10-2020, 07:40 PM)Reltzik Wrote:
(03-10-2020, 04:25 PM)SteveII Wrote: ...

Perhaps, but there are a wide array of tools to get at a decent approximation of what the author meant.  Often it isn't all that hard--especially for the subject of this thread. For example, whether of not Paul was teaching trinitarianism in Col 2:9, is vastly different from the question of did Jesus allow for atrocities in Matthew 5:38-48.

...

But you have not connected the "awful fruits" with the ideology--which is necessary to characterize an atrocity as 'Christian'. There are plenty of other reasons someone might want to do something bad. At best you have a shame-on-you argument because the person claimed the ideology and then did something contrary to it.

But I did link it to the ideology, through the Great Commission.  It's difficult to argue that many of the abuses committed were about forcing people to convert to Christianity and/or suppressing competing religions (the evil of which is a theme throughout the Bible).  While I'm viewing the OP list with a bit of skepticism, as just one of many other examples of this doctrine leading to atrocities I could point to Charlemagne's policy towards the Saxons: Convert or die.

Good discussion.

A few things about the Great Commission

1. A "convert or die" policy is easily contrary to every single chapter of the NT. It is impossible to arrive at such a policy by reading the NT. It would require added premises not found there.
2. Don't conflate commands in the OT to govern a theocracy with a Christian ideology. If that is the basis for a "convert or die" policy, then there is clear failure in understanding the plain reading of both the OT and the NT. If contrary to plain reading, it can't be part of the ideology.
3. If you have an ideology and then add additional premises, you can't describe the conclusion as the original ideology. You have a new one that needs a new name. So in Charlemagne's case, it would be that of the Holy Roman Empire. Later, it will be "Catholic ideology".
4. If an ideology is whatever people want it to be or add to it at will, then the word loses all meaning.

Quote:Or I could point to the extensive anti-Semetic abuses committed based on the doctrine of Jewish Deicide -- that the entire Jewish race bears a blood-guilt for killing Jesus, based on Mathew 17:25.  Now you may interpret this passage differently, either on its own or in regard to its larger importance in the whole Bible, and a lot of Christians do.  But the same act of interpretation also leads a lot of people to believe in that particular bloody doctrine, which is an example of how the act of belief based on interpretation of the Bible is itself both unreliable and dangerous.

That's much easier. I mentioned in my last response there are a variety of ways to ascertain the intended meaning of a passage. One of those is to use other passages as a control of what the first could mean. There are a 1000 verses in the NT that both implicitly and explicitly say that Jesus' death was voluntary (John 3:16-17 being a notable example). This prevents a justified conclusion that supports Jewish Deicide. Again, you need either a complete misunderstanding of the ideology or you need to add to it to get to that conclusion. Either way, you can't call that part of Christian ideology.

Necessary to any ideology is the ability to ascertain a proposition as a) necessary to it, b) permitted/justified, c) explicitly not permitted, and d) agnostic about it. Otherwise you lose all meaning. We are not talking about the doctrine of the trinity here. For example, if you want to say that leader x, claiming a 'Christian' justification did action y, and therefore the action is Christian, you potentially redefine the meaning of Christian each time.

Ironically, this also guts the atheist's point of calling it a Christian atrocity in the first place. The point then has no meaning and deserves a shoulder shrug because then logically I get to claim my own definition which insulates me from the criticism.

Quote:But even without that link of ideology, I can also call an atrocity Christian by A) Showing it was done by Christians and B) Showing those Christians did it BECAUSE they were Christians, rather than incidental to being Christians.  This is the standard by which we might call the abuses at Abu Gharib prison following the Iraq War an American atrocity, even if they were performed by a very small percentage of Americans, who (analogous to not conforming to the ideology, whatever that actually is) violated standing orders and American law in the process.  I doubt most people would argue that classing it as an American atrocity is a totally baseless view to have, even if they might not be inclined to put it that way themselves.
 
A) Showing it was done by Christians
B) Showing those Christians did it BECAUSE they were Christians, rather than incidental to being Christians.

Actually, I'm not sure (A) is necessary. I could not believe in Christianity, but intentionally do something in accordance with it for some other purpose. For example, if I were a leader, I could enact a law that makes the Muslim portion of the population happy to motivate, for peace, or because I am a nice guy. It's obviously not sufficient because Christians do myriads of activities that are not explicitly Christian. So, (A) is neither necessary nor sufficient in ascertaining whether or not an action is in accordance with a Christian ideology. The only think left is the action has to actually be in accord with the ideology or we have a word that has no real meaning.

For some of the same reasons (B) is not necessary either. But more to the point, it is clearly not sufficient. I could be the case that the person was misinformed, misled, cognitively impaired and acted with honest motivation or, simply lying about the reason for a number of reasons such a claim would be advantageous. For example,

Regarding the Abu Gharib abuses. I don't think it fits your own standard in (B). Calling it an American atrocity is at best describing the political authority who was responsible for allowing it. That is not analogous to Christian ideology. There is no authoritative body that has responsibilities it can fail to perform.

Quote:The causal link is what's important, because that's how results are measured and how we make decisions about whether this or that activity is dangerous.  It's what lets us say, "If I do A, B will happen", or at least, "If I do A, there is a significant chance that B will happen."  It lets me say, "If I try to interpret the Bible (or rely on someone else's interpretation), accept it on faith, and use that as a guide in my life, there's a significant chance that this will lead me to do some horrendous things."  This particular tree frequently bears those particular fruits.
 
Okay, your argument goes something like this:

1. Interpretation of the Bible has led to horrendous things.
2. Therefore it is possible that interpretation of the Bible will lead me to do horrendous things.

But notice that limits what you are justified in claiming: Action A is a Christian Interpretation Atrocity because interpretation =/= ideology and you can't just substitute one for the other. There is an objective meaning the author intended. That is equal to the ideology.

Quote:Am I saying "shame on every Christian because of the actions of these specific Christians" or anything like that?  No, I am not, and please quote one of my posts if I have.  I'm saying that indulging in Christian beliefs has, in many cases, led to some pretty nasty consequences.  I can go a bit further to say that indulging in such a belief could therefore be viewed as dangerous.  Not necessarily something that will definitely result in the believer doing something harmful, but which has a significant possibility of leading to that result.  A metaphor I like is of some recreational drug that is known to send, say, 5% of users into psychotic episodes, but doesn't have that side effect for anyone else.  Playing those odds can be viewed as irresponsible.  And yes, I'm also taking a few digs at an irksome and odious slander (which, to my knowledge, you have not advanced) at large in our society that being a Christian automatically makes one better, more loving, and more moral than being an atheist.  But no, I'm not saying that you specifically should feel shame for Christian atrocities.

I would say that the NT teaches that being a Christian should make you aware that you are not better than anyone else. Humility and thankfulness for undeserved grace is a pretty central theme.
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#56

Three Centuries Of Christian Atrocities
Stevie - you are walking proof of what Gandhi and H. L. Mencken said:

Quote: “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”

― Mahatma Gandhi


Quote: “The trouble with Communism is the Communists, just as the trouble with Christianity is the Christians.”

― H.L. Mencken
Robert G. Ingersoll : “No man with a sense of humor ever founded a religion.”
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#57

Three Centuries Of Christian Atrocities
I have to chuckle at the thread title.  "Three Centuries of Christian Atrocities".  THREE centuries?!  How about TWENTY centuries of Christian atrocities.  Chuckle
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#58

Three Centuries Of Christian Atrocities
I really think poor old Steve needs to get a life LOL.
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#59

Three Centuries Of Christian Atrocities
(03-12-2020, 03:41 PM)Dancefortwo Wrote: I have to chuckle at the thread title.  "Three Centuries of Christian Atrocities".  THREE centuries?!  How about TWENTY centuries of Christian atrocities.  Chuckle

Clearly we are cherry picking the golden years !!
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#60

Three Centuries Of Christian Atrocities
(03-12-2020, 08:51 PM)possibletarian Wrote:
(03-12-2020, 03:41 PM)Dancefortwo Wrote: I have to chuckle at the thread title.  "Three Centuries of Christian Atrocities".  THREE centuries?!  How about TWENTY centuries of Christian atrocities.  Chuckle

Clearly we are cherry picking the golden years !!

The best of the worst, eh?  Tongue   The 12th century wasn't so great either.  Later there was the protestant movement.....lots of people died, wars were fought, some were disembowled, some burned as heretics.  Fun times.   Nod
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#61

Three Centuries Of Christian Atrocities
(03-11-2020, 05:26 PM)SteveII Wrote: Good discussion.

A few things about the Great Commission

1. A "convert or die" policy is easily contrary to every single chapter of the NT. It is impossible to arrive at such a policy by reading the NT. It would require added premises not found there.

I'm being pedantic here for the sake of silliness, but not EVERY single chapter.  Just starting at the beginning, Matthew 1 has nothing at all to say on the subject either way.  I'd guess that easily fewer than half the chapters have anything to say on the subject.

But being a bit less silly, it is quite possible to arrive at such a policy by reading the New Testament.  All one has to do is what a LOT of Christians do: cherry pick.  That part about loving one's enemies doesn't fit your taste?  Well, just skim over that, the same way other Christians skim over the part about slaves being told to obey their worldly masters.  You can read it without reflecting on it deeply as you move on to other parts that you find more significant.

And yes, I know, you're trying to make a point about some objective ideology contained within the words themselves, but this entire thread has been from start to finish about how Christians have acted on ideology and how they continue to do so in the present, and that's the ideology they're acting on. Not some objective, original ideology, but the ideology that interpretation and tradition caused to exist in their present time.  If we're drawing a distinction between the two, then let's keep track of what we're talking about.

Later in your post you drew a distinction between the concept of a Christian atrocity and a Christian interpretation atrocity, as one that derived not from the core, original ideology of the Biblical authors but instead from interpretation.  At least, that's how I read what you wrote.  In the same vein, I'd like to draw a similar distinction.  Let's on one hand have original ideology, meaning whatever the various Biblical authors were trying to put down, at the various times they wrote.  On the other hand, we will have interpreted ideology, meaning what later, practicing Christians interpreted the ideology of Christianity to be, rightly or wrongly, be it through reading the words on the page, or relying on tradition, or believing in some later revelation (from speaking in tongues or Papal decree or LDS prophets or whatever), or the preaching of particular priests/ministers/whatever, et cetera.

As defined, it should be obvious that every Christian since the last Biblical author's death has had access to only interpreted ideology.  Original ideology is inaccessible.  Some interpretations may be more straightforward than others, and, hypothetically, there may even be a perfectly correct interpretation out there.  But even a correct interpretation would still be an interpretation.

(03-11-2020, 05:26 PM)SteveII Wrote: 2. Don't conflate commands in the OT to govern a theocracy with a Christian ideology. If that is the basis for a "convert or die" policy, then there is clear failure in understanding the plain reading of both the OT and the NT. If contrary to plain reading, it can't be part of the ideology.

It's quite easy for a plain reading to lead to an interpretation incorporating the OT into Christian ideology.  As one possibility, just focus in on Jesus saying that not one jot or tittle of the old law would pass away until heaven and earth had passed away and all was fulfilled, note that some stuff from Revelation has definitely not come to pass yet and the earth, at least, is still here, and thereby conclude that the old law is still in force.

It's also quite easy to make a plain reading and interpret it the opposite way.

My point isn't that the interpretation incorporating OT law does or doesn't correspond with original ideology.  My point is that's just one example of the varied multitude of interpreted ideologies that interpretation has produced.  Interpretation is unreliable, and has often resulted in an interpreted ideology which motivates atrocities.

(03-11-2020, 05:26 PM)SteveII Wrote: 3. If you have an ideology and then add additional premises, you can't describe the conclusion as the original ideology. You have a new one that needs a new name. So in Charlemagne's case, it would be that of the Holy Roman Empire. Later, it will be "Catholic ideology".

And who can read a text without bringing their own life experiences and preconceptions into that reading?  Who can interpret any text, including the Bible, without viewing it through their own unique lens?  Without bring the standards of their own society in to color what they take away from it?

To illustrate just one example, the OT passages which establish slavery as part of the old law, and Paul's NT tacit approval of the practice and the lack of explicit NT condemnation of it, would have struck Christians throughout most of history as fairly unremarkable.  Something to be read and cited, perhaps, but not something that provoked cognitive dissonance to the point where you had a whole bunch of people looking for a different way of reading it or some way to excuse it.  That's because for most of history, Christians lived in societies which practiced slavery, and so the presence of slavery as something that God allowed was no more remarkable than, say, God commanding there to be solid ground.  It was part of their world.  Very few, if any, read the Bible as in some way forbidding slavery.

It's only in modern times -- let's say, from the 1700s on -- that a general societal move away from the practice of slavery changed the cultural lens through which people viewed the Bible and they started interpreting otherwise en masse, and they started interpreting things like the Golden Rule as forbidding slavery.  To see that in action, go back to the editorials published in the times leading up to, and during, the (United States) Civil War to see both going on at the same time, with Northern abolitionists certain that slavery was an affront to God while southerners were able to cite chapter and verse about how it was nothing of the sort.  And now, in the modern day, with slavery abolished nearly every place in the world, few people read the Bible and interpret it as meaning slavery is permissible.

Or for another subject, consider the value of criminal punishment.  Modern, pragmatic ideas of justifying it through the benefits of reform, incapacitation, or deterrence would have been outre through most of history.  Typically, for most of the past 2000 years, punishments were predicated on one of two ideas -- either balancing the scales by causing harm equal to the offense (eye for an eye retribution or paying restitution), or to set an example showing that the authority meting out the punishment was the biggest meanest badass around and no one else should dare defy him or it or look what they'll get.  In that context, things like God slaying all the firstborn of Egypt make perfect sense: showing that God is the biggest meanest badass around and look what happened when Egypt defied Him, and the well-being of innocent children is at most a secondary consideration.  It's only in the modern era that this inspires dissonance, and that dissonance colors how modern Christians interpret the passages.

So did Charlemagne bring in his own premises?  Of course!  Did the Catholics bring in their own premises?  Of course!  Are you doing the same thing?  Of course! Any time we interpret any work, we always bring something into it.  Always.

(03-11-2020, 05:26 PM)SteveII Wrote: 4. If an ideology is whatever people want it to be or add to it at will, then the word loses all meaning.

Then either it loses all meaning, or it remains locked away in an inaccessible past, because there is no way to get at it without adding something to it.   (I'll excise the "at will" part from your statement, since I think you'll agree that distortions caused by accident would also cause it to lose all meaning.)

(03-11-2020, 05:26 PM)SteveII Wrote:
Quote:Or I could point to the extensive anti-Semetic abuses committed based on the doctrine of Jewish Deicide -- that the entire Jewish race bears a blood-guilt for killing Jesus, based on Mathew 17:25.  Now you may interpret this passage differently, either on its own or in regard to its larger importance in the whole Bible, and a lot of Christians do.  But the same act of interpretation also leads a lot of people to believe in that particular bloody doctrine, which is an example of how the act of belief based on interpretation of the Bible is itself both unreliable and dangerous.

That's much easier. I mentioned in my last response there are a variety of ways to ascertain the intended meaning of a passage. One of those is to use other passages as a control of what the first could mean. There are a 1000 verses in the NT that both implicitly and explicitly say that Jesus' death was voluntary (John 3:16-17 being a notable example). This prevents a justified conclusion that supports Jewish Deicide. Again, you need either a complete misunderstanding of the ideology or you need to add to it to get to that conclusion. Either way, you can't call that part of Christian ideology.

Necessary to any ideology is the ability to ascertain a proposition as a) necessary to it, b) permitted/justified, c) explicitly not permitted, and d) agnostic about it. Otherwise you lose all meaning. We are not talking about the doctrine of the trinity here. For example, if you want to say that leader x, claiming a 'Christian' justification did action y, and therefore the action is Christian, you potentially redefine the meaning of Christian each time.

Ironically, this also guts the atheist's point of calling it a Christian atrocity in the first place. The point then has no meaning and deserves a shoulder shrug because then logically I get to claim my own definition which insulates me from the criticism.

Regarding your dismissal of the doctrine of Jewish Deicide: Why can't it be both?  Why can't people misbehave in a way that is exactly what God wishes them to do, leading to something that Jesus went through voluntarily, and be punished for it regardless?  That's perfectly consistent with the text.  As just one example, God knew that Judas would betray Jesus, and predicted it, and it was part of His plan for salvation (since no betrayal would have meant no crucifixion, or at least not on the provided timeline), and yet Judas ends up with his bowels on the ground anyway.

No, I'm not arguing for the doctrine of Jewish Deicide.  I'm pointing out something that you've brought to your interpretation: the premise that God wouldn't want punished people who killed Jesus on the grounds that Jesus's death was voluntary.  Nowhere in the Bible is that stated.

But that's beside the point.  The point, since I don't think I've explicitly stated it, is this: The ONLY way to attempt to get at original ideology is through interpretation, resulting in an interpreted ideology which one can at best hope matches the original.  Yet even then interpreted ideologies are too varied for an observant and self-aware individual to believe that likely.  And to top it all off, interpreted ideologies have a history of inspiring horrific atrocities.

If you want ideology in your life, rather than as some past abstraction, then it comes as part of a package deal with interpretation.  You can't have one without the other.  And that means that your distinction between a Christian atrocity and a Christian interpretation atrocity is... well, it's not exactly meaningless.  But it makes the concept of a Christian atrocity something that can never happen, and the reason it can't happen isn't because the ideology is so pure and loving, but because it isn't something that anyone has access to any more.  Your distinction transforms it into a remote and purely theoretical concept, isolated from any dirt and muck that Christians might roll around in.  In so doing, the distinction also isolates Christians from it.

So I'm playing along with your distinction, but it makes no difference. In practice, when answering questions like "should I buy into this religion as a moral guide" or "should I act on (my interpretation of) Christianity", or when seeing other people answer those questions, the atrocities should be alarming regardless of whether or not we distinguish between original vs interpreted theology.  Break down that model however you like, the outcome is the same regardless.

Are you, personally, isolated from the interpreted ideology that leads to this doctrine and the atrocities that resulted from it?  Yes.  Is your personal interpreted ideology also isolated from it?  Yes.

But I can't say the same thing for your choice to live your life in accord with an interpretation of the Bible.  That is the common thread here, and it's something which seems to be required to be properly called a Christian.

And no, I'm not saying that makes you guilty of those atrocities or implicates you in them.  I lean towards the idea that the choice is reckless and negligent towards the well-being of others, but I won't firmly commit even to that much.

(03-11-2020, 05:26 PM)SteveII Wrote:
Quote:But even without that link of ideology, I can also call an atrocity Christian by A) Showing it was done by Christians and B) Showing those Christians did it BECAUSE they were Christians, rather than incidental to being Christians.  This is the standard by which we might call the abuses at Abu Gharib prison following the Iraq War an American atrocity, even if they were performed by a very small percentage of Americans, who (analogous to not conforming to the ideology, whatever that actually is) violated standing orders and American law in the process.  I doubt most people would argue that classing it as an American atrocity is a totally baseless view to have, even if they might not be inclined to put it that way themselves.
 
A) Showing it was done by Christians
B) Showing those Christians did it BECAUSE they were Christians, rather than incidental to being Christians.

Actually, I'm not sure (A) is necessary. I could not believe in Christianity, but intentionally do something in accordance with it for some other purpose. For example, if I were a leader, I could enact a law that makes the Muslim portion of the population happy to motivate, for peace, or because I am a nice guy. It's obviously not sufficient because Christians do myriads of activities that are not explicitly Christian. So, (A) is neither necessary nor sufficient in ascertaining whether or not an action is in accordance with a Christian ideology. The only think left is the action has to actually be in accord with the ideology or we have a word that has no real meaning.

For some of the same reasons (B) is not necessary either. But more to the point, it is clearly not sufficient. I could be the case that the person was misinformed, misled, cognitively impaired and acted with honest motivation or, simply lying about the reason for a number of reasons such a claim would be advantageous. For example,

Regarding the Abu Gharib abuses. I don't think it fits your own standard in (B). Calling it an American atrocity is at best describing the political authority who was responsible for allowing it. That is not analogous to Christian ideology. There is no authoritative body that has responsibilities it can fail to perform.

And just as you can say that the Abu Gharib prisoner abuses were an American atrocity because that describes the political authority responsible, couldn't we say that Christian ideology is the spiritual authority responsible?  How is that not analogous?  If the fact that it was a violation of the political authority's dictates (and it was) don't serve to isolate America from being tainted by that atrocity, why would the idea that the various atrocities committed by Christians violated that spiritual authority isolate that spiritual authority from being tainted?


But okay, I'll leave stand this distinction which you describe later as a Christian atrocity versus a Christian interpretation atrocity, since I'm playing along with it.  And your example seems to have vanished.  Oh well.


(03-11-2020, 05:26 PM)SteveII Wrote:
Quote:The causal link is what's important, because that's how results are measured and how we make decisions about whether this or that activity is dangerous.  It's what lets us say, "If I do A, B will happen", or at least, "If I do A, there is a significant chance that B will happen."  It lets me say, "If I try to interpret the Bible (or rely on someone else's interpretation), accept it on faith, and use that as a guide in my life, there's a significant chance that this will lead me to do some horrendous things."  This particular tree frequently bears those particular fruits.
 
Okay, your argument goes something like this:

1. Interpretation of the Bible has led to horrendous things.
2. Therefore it is possible that interpretation of the Bible will lead me to do horrendous things.

But notice that limits what you are justified in claiming: Action A  is a Christian Interpretation Atrocity because interpretation =/= ideology and you can't just substitute one for the other.  There is an objective meaning the author intended. That is equal to the ideology.

And there's the distinction.  I feel I've adequately addressed it, so I'll move on.


(03-11-2020, 05:26 PM)SteveII Wrote:
Quote:Am I saying "shame on every Christian because of the actions of these specific Christians" or anything like that?  No, I am not, and please quote one of my posts if I have.  I'm saying that indulging in Christian beliefs has, in many cases, led to some pretty nasty consequences.  I can go a bit further to say that indulging in such a belief could therefore be viewed as dangerous.  Not necessarily something that will definitely result in the believer doing something harmful, but which has a significant possibility of leading to that result.  A metaphor I like is of some recreational drug that is known to send, say, 5% of users into psychotic episodes, but doesn't have that side effect for anyone else.  Playing those odds can be viewed as irresponsible.  And yes, I'm also taking a few digs at an irksome and odious slander (which, to my knowledge, you have not advanced) at large in our society that being a Christian automatically makes one better, more loving, and more moral than being an atheist.  But no, I'm not saying that you specifically should feel shame for Christian atrocities.

I would say that the NT teaches that being a Christian should make you aware that you are not better than anyone else. Humility and thankfulness for undeserved grace is a pretty central theme.

That's certainly an interpretation I would take away from the NT as well.

But quite a few people don't.  That interpretation HAPPENS.  Leave out whether it's correct or incorrect.  It exists.  It affects the world.  It leads to harm.  Interpretation leads a thousand different directions, quite a few of them unsavory.  That's what makes it dangerous.

So I've asserted this several times already, but I'll put it to you as a challenge.  Can you offer either:

A)  A good argument that interpretation of the Bible (and acting on / living by that interpretation) is NOT a somewhat dangerous and/or reckless path to follow, given that a certain percentage of interpretations lead to very unhappy happenings?

.... or...

B)  Some way to get at original ideology without interpretation?

If not, it would seem that any widespread adoption of Christianity would result in some number of atrocities through harmful interpretations, without comment on whether those interpretations were correct or not.
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#62

Three Centuries Of Christian Atrocities
(03-11-2020, 05:26 PM)SteveII Wrote: 2. Don't conflate commands in the OT to govern a theocracy with a Christian ideology. If that is the basis for a "convert or die" policy, then there is clear failure in understanding the plain reading of both the OT and the NT. If contrary to plain reading, it can't be part of the ideology.

Christians do this all the time, and why just the NT, is it not the very same god and the very same holy spirit inspiration, Christians swap between plain reading and 'it's just a story meaning something else (insert something more believable here), or it's out of context, or some other excuse.
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#63

Three Centuries Of Christian Atrocities
A number of cases of mass killings, at God’s behest,  are recorded in the Old Testament:

• The Flood (Genesis 6-8)
• The cities of the plain, including Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 18-19)
• The Egyptian firstborn sons during the Passover (Exodus 11-12)
• The Canaanites under Moses and Joshua (Numbers 21:2-3; Deuteronomy 20:17; Joshua 6:17, 21)
• The Amalekites annihilated by Saul (1 Samuel 15)
I'm a creationist;   I believe that man created God.
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#64

Three Centuries Of Christian Atrocities
SteveII, one of your central problems here (and arguably the most important one) is failing to defend what seems to be a hidden premise, namely that your version of Christianity is at least significantly closer to its true message than that of violent and/or bigoted fundamentalists.  Granting for the moment that the original intent of the Biblical authors is still relevant despite nobody really having access to it, how are you so confident that your comparatively benign interpretation is the least distorted reading?  This is what I was getting at in my thought experiment with the Spanish Inquisitor in the "Indoctrination" thread, too.

It's readily obvious that your interpretation is superior in terms of its ethical and practical consequences.  What remains to be established is its superiority in terms of reflecting the true intent of the Biblical authors and ultimately God himself.  Frankly, I get the vibe that you're implicitly (and perhaps subconsciously) equating the two, as if the former entails the latter.  But such an entailment rests on the presupposition that Christianity is a loving and peaceful religion.  In short, you confront two possibilities.  Either (1) the violent and bigoted fundamentalists are wrong in their interpretation, you have a much more correct one, and Christianity really is the compassionate and tolerant ideology you believe it is, or (2) you're wrong in your interpretation, the violent bigots have a much more correct one, and Christianity really is the cruel and intolerant ideology they portray it to be.  From where I'm standing, you seem to have dismissed #2 almost out of hand with little or no justification, and instead just assumed that #1 is what's going on.  What we're missing from you is a decent defense of that conclusion.

Finally, I'd like to take this opportunity to second virtually everything Reltzik has said in this discussion, especially the part about how the verses that people feel compelled to re-interpret and/or re-contextualize seem to change in suspicious alignment with external cultural shifts.  A mere few centuries ago, many of the Steves of that era would've been quite likely to cite scripture in defense of slavery and claim that the abolitionists are cherry-picking or otherwise misreading the text.  Nowadays, the prevailing trend in hermeneutics has reversed.  And I'm among those who strongly suspect that, in another generation or two, the descendants of today's homophobes will, when confronted with the passages their ancestors once proudly touted on the plainest of readings, overwhelmingly tend to engage in reflexive apologetics analogous to many that we see attempted here.  Such Christians already exist.  They just have yet to become the solidly dominant trend in the way that's already happened for things like slavery.  With that, we can ask the key question again, this time in diachronic terms.  What makes you, SteveII, so confident that this change in hermeneutic fashion is actually the result of us getting progressively better at accessing the Bible's true meaning, rather than the result of shifting tides in secular culture influencing and/or pressuring believers to re-interpret scripture in conformity with the changing societal millieu?
The only sacred truth in science is that there are no sacred truths. - Carl Sagan
Ἡ μόνη ἱερᾱ̀ ἀληθείᾱ ἐν τῇ φυσικῇ φιλοσοφίᾳ ἐστὶν ἡ ἱερῶν ἀληθειῶν σπάνις. - Κᾱ́ρολος Σήγανος


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#65

Three Centuries Of Christian Atrocities
Jesusism has always been malleable.
Robert G. Ingersoll : “No man with a sense of humor ever founded a religion.”
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#66

Three Centuries Of Christian Atrocities
(03-09-2020, 01:43 AM)SteveII Wrote: An ideology that has as the second greatest commandment to love your neighbor as yourself and another command to turn the other cheek cannot be a foundation for atrocities.

"Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword." Yep. A true message of love and forgiveness there. No way atrocities committed by the faithers could in any way be linked to the faith. [Image: Eye_Roll.gif]

Pull the other one, Stevie.
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#67

Three Centuries Of Christian Atrocities
(03-11-2020, 11:58 AM)possibletarian Wrote: ...Your view on what a scripture means is as fallible as theirs...

No, no, no. Stevie has determined the absolute truthiest, truth. Mostly through cherry-picking, ignoring the ugly bits, and a lot of wishful thinking.
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#68

Three Centuries Of Christian Atrocities
(03-12-2020, 07:04 PM)SYZ Wrote: I really think poor old Steve needs to get a life LOL.

Or at least read some fiction not, allegedly, written by iron age goat herders.
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#69

Three Centuries Of Christian Atrocities
(03-13-2020, 10:51 PM)Reltzik Wrote:
(03-11-2020, 05:26 PM)SteveII Wrote: I would say that the NT teaches that being a Christian should make you aware that you are not better than anyone else. Humility and thankfulness for undeserved grace is a pretty central theme.

That's certainly an interpretation I would take away from the NT as well.

But quite a few people don't.  That interpretation HAPPENS.  Leave out whether it's correct or incorrect.  It exists.  It affects the world.  It leads to harm.  Interpretation leads a thousand different directions, quite a few of them unsavory.  That's what makes it dangerous.

So I've asserted this several times already, but I'll put it to you as a challenge.  Can you offer either:

A)  A good argument that interpretation of the Bible (and acting on / living by that interpretation) is NOT a somewhat dangerous and/or reckless path to follow, given that a certain percentage of interpretations lead to very unhappy happenings?

.... or...

B)  Some way to get at original ideology without interpretation?

If not, it would seem that any widespread adoption of Christianity would result in some number of atrocities through harmful interpretations, without comment on whether those interpretations were correct or not.

I enjoyed reading your comments and the obvious thought you put behind them.

I'm going to go with B because I don't think it necessary to interpret the NT in the sense you mean.

Definition of interpret
transitive verb
1: to explain or tell the meaning of : present in understandable terms
interpret dreams
needed help interpreting the results
2: to conceive in the light of individual belief, judgment, or circumstance : CONSTRUE
interpret a contract
https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/interpreting

Throughout your response above, you used interpret/interpretation in the second sense of the definition. But I would go further than that. I think a case can be made that much of the NT content is already the interpretation (in the sense of 1) of the underlying truths. Let's grant for the sake of this argument that the gospels contain the teachings of Jesus (as most Christians believe). Jesus took great pains to "explain or tell the meaning of." He used parables and analogies everywhere.

Take the passages I mentioned previously. Matthew 5 (the Sermon on the Mount) or Luke 10 (Love you neighbor as yourself, who is your neighbor?...the Good Samaritan). I'm not sure there needs to be any attempt "to explain or tell the meaning of". The underlying truths were just explained in plain language. With the nature of the NT, it would take hours to cite all the similar gospel passages and then move on to the epistles which echo the themes but provide more "how and why" to implement them--it would be easier for someone to cite an example to the contrary.

You brought up the passage below as a possible source of interpretation issues.

Matthew 5:17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. 19 Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.

The last verse seems very important to the meaning of the previous verses because it answer the question "why am I saying this?" AND, the very next verse starts the series of (hate is a bad a murder, lust is as bad as adultery, and ends with loving your enemy) to make it even more difficult to keep the law--because the point is no one can keep the law--it is and always was impossible.

There is no reasonable way to spin these verses to imply that some atrocity x is permitted because Jesus didn't abolish the OT Law. If a "convert or kill" has it's root here, you simply pulled a verse out of context because any potential inference (and I think even that characterization is being to generous) to that is quickly cleared up with more plain language from the same passage. Further, there are several other passages that deal with what the law's purpose is in even clearer terms.

- No one (except for Jesus) has ever succeeded in keeping the law (Acts 15:10)!
- The law illustrates the impossible standard (Galatians 3:10-11; Galatians 5:3)
- The law cannot bring salvation (Romans 3:20; Galatians 2:8-10, 16; Galatians 3:1-5).
- As Paul makes clear, the law's job was to act as a schoolmaster in order to bring us to Christ (Galatians 4:1-7).

I will say that a few secondary doctrines are not as clear as we would like and --but I think they are all in-house squabbles and not germane to atrocity justification. Let me know if I am wrong.

You brought up slavery as an example of interpretations that were used to justify both sides. Those who used the Bible to support it needed to do two things: 1) equivocate on the various types of slavery and 2) ignore vast stretches of the Bible. Taken together, using the Bible as a defense is illegitimate. Such an assessment is not limited to our time or culture because neither of those two things change over time or culture. Chattel slavery based on race is contrary to Christianity for all times because it violates core principles of Christianity.

A quick comment about Jewish Deicide. How would one draw the conclusion that an entire race is culpable for putting Jesus to death from anything in the NT? I could see if you didn't have a NT perhaps but nearly every main character and author was Jewish and the entire theme depends on Jesus being crucified. I read the article on how people justified it. It is really really thin and, as I said in the last paragraph, violates core principles of Christianity.

No discussion on this would be complete without pointing out that there is a difference between Catholic and protestant views and can lead to confusion. The Catholics believe that they have the unique ability to add to what it means to be a Christian. That obviously leads to confusion because that makes many concepts a moving target. I am arguing for a NT-only definition of Christianity.

In summary, a 'Christian interpretation atrocity' is because of interpretation (in the second sense of the definition). I think it is obvious that the NT as a whole acts as a check against taking passages out of context--especially in the categories of violence and hate.
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#70

Three Centuries Of Christian Atrocities
(03-25-2020, 02:54 PM)SteveII Wrote: No discussion on this would be complete without pointing out that there is a difference between Catholic and protestant views and can lead to confusion. The Catholics believe that they have the unique ability to add to what it means to be a Christian. That obviously leads to confusion because that makes many concepts a moving target. I am arguing for a NT-only definition of Christianity.

In summary, a 'Christian interpretation atrocity' is because of interpretation (in the second sense of the definition). I think it is obvious that the NT as a whole acts as a check against taking passages out of context--especially in the categories of violence and hate.

Then you have a problem, what is the NT-only definition of Christianity when much of it's teaching are justified from the O.T. ?

Let's start with your definition of what you believe is the true N.T. definition of Christianity perhaps ?
Those who ask a lot of questions may seem stupid, but those who don't ask questions stay stupid.
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#71

Three Centuries Of Christian Atrocities
(03-15-2020, 02:33 AM)Glossophile Wrote: SteveII, one of your central problems here (and arguably the most important one) is failing to defend what seems to be a hidden premise, namely that your version of Christianity is at least significantly closer to its true message than that of violent and/or bigoted fundamentalists.  Granting for the moment that the original intent of the Biblical authors is still relevant despite nobody really having access to it, how are you so confident that your comparatively benign interpretation is the least distorted reading?  This is what I was getting at in my thought experiment with the Spanish Inquisitor in the "Indoctrination" thread, too.

It's readily obvious that your interpretation is superior in terms of its ethical and practical consequences.  What remains to be established is its superiority in terms of reflecting the true intent of the Biblical authors and ultimately God himself.  Frankly, I get the vibe that you're implicitly (and perhaps subconsciously) equating the two, as if the former entails the latter.  But such an entailment rests on the presupposition that Christianity is a loving and peaceful religion.  In short, you confront two possibilities.  Either (1) the violent and bigoted fundamentalists are wrong in their interpretation, you have a much more correct one, and Christianity really is the compassionate and tolerant ideology you believe it is, or (2) you're wrong in your interpretation, the violent bigots have a much more correct one, and Christianity really is the cruel and intolerant ideology they portray it to be.  From where I'm standing, you seem to have dismissed #2 almost out of hand with little or no justification, and instead just assumed that #1 is what's going on.  What we're missing from you is a decent defense of that conclusion.

Your point seems to include the assumption that original meaning cannot be known. As I said in my answer just above, I don't think the intended meaning is hard to find. There are plenty of illustrations, parables, analogies, and treatments in multiple passages to safeguard against a misunderstanding. As you noted, the bar is even lower than that because of the versions in the comparison. You are comparing

1. My "version of Christianity
2. The "violent and/or bigoted fundamentalist"

Even if my version is not entirely correct, it does not follow that the other version could be. I read something interesting last week that I think applies. It went something like "one of the most troubling aspects is that the formation of any ‘we’ must leave out or exclude a ‘they’.” In the same way, Christianity is partly defined by what it is not. You actually don't need a list of permitted actions, because entire categories of actions are excluded. You cannot in good faith think violence and bigotry are included.

So, regarding the bar, I don't actually have to show (although I think I can) that my version is right, I only need to show that other is not.

Now, if this were a different topic, the gap might close and my chances of being wrong increase.

Quote:Finally, I'd like to take this opportunity to second virtually everything Reltzik has said in this discussion, especially the part about how the verses that people feel compelled to re-interpret and/or re-contextualize seem to change in suspicious alignment with external cultural shifts.  A mere few centuries ago, many of the Steves of that era would've been quite likely to cite scripture in defense of slavery and claim that the abolitionists are cherry-picking or otherwise misreading the text.  Nowadays, the prevailing trend in hermeneutics has reversed.  And I'm among those who strongly suspect that, in another generation or two, the descendants of today's homophobes will, when confronted with the passages their ancestors once proudly touted on the plainest of readings, overwhelmingly tend to engage in reflexive apologetics analogous to many that we see attempted here.  Such Christians already exist.  They just have yet to become the solidly dominant trend in the way that's already happened for things like slavery.  With that, we can ask the key question again, this time in diachronic terms.  What makes you, SteveII, so confident that this change in hermeneutic fashion is actually the result of us getting progressively better at accessing the Bible's true meaning, rather than the result of shifting tides in secular culture influencing and/or pressuring believers to re-interpret scripture in conformity with the changing societal millieu?

I mentioned slavery in my answer to Reltzik:

You brought up slavery as an example of interpretations that were used to justify both sides. Those who used the Bible to support it needed to do two things: 1) equivocate on the various types of slavery and 2) ignore vast stretches of the Bible. Taken together, using the Bible as a defense is illegitimate. Such an assessment is not limited to our time or culture because neither of those two things change over time or culture. Chattel slavery based on race is contrary to Christianity for all times because it violates core principles of Christianity.

I'm not sure you have justification for a reversing trend in hermeneutics. It is impossible to read that homosexual behavior is okay. So this reversal is better characterized as ignoring the Bible where it conflicts with current trends in culture. "Homophobes" is pejorative if you are referring to the view that homosexual behavior is wrong found in several places in the Bible. It is the wrong word.

You want to connect slavery and homosexual behavior to illustrate a trend to support your point. You have two problems. 1) they are not analogous so the Bible application applies differently to them. One is subjugation of rights of others based on circumstance and race and the other is not a a subjugation of rights--rather a designation that a behavior is morally wrong. 2) if you drag in the "rights" issues of homosexuals, you have left the realm of the NT and any justification from the NT (and labeling it Christian) for some sort of oppression is illegitimate: 'love you neighbor as yourself' governs (the second greatest commandment).

My confidence comes from the plain meaning of almost all of the NT as it relates to how we should approach such issues. It correctly identifies man's true nature (as basically selfish) and provides a prescription. It identifies the correct level where these things reside: the heart, and it teaches universal principles aimed at that level. It not only provides those things, it provides an objective basis for them: that if God can condescend to love you across a massive gulf and find ultimate value in you, there is no possible reason we should not value our fellow human beings. There are several passages that flesh that out (Philippians 2 is one of them).
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#72

Three Centuries Of Christian Atrocities
(03-25-2020, 04:21 PM)possibletarian Wrote:
(03-25-2020, 02:54 PM)SteveII Wrote: No discussion on this would be complete without pointing out that there is a difference between Catholic and protestant views and can lead to confusion. The Catholics believe that they have the unique ability to add to what it means to be a Christian. That obviously leads to confusion because that makes many concepts a moving target. I am arguing for a NT-only definition of Christianity.

In summary, a 'Christian interpretation atrocity' is because of interpretation (in the second sense of the definition). I think it is obvious that the NT as a whole acts as a check against taking passages out of context--especially in the categories of violence and hate.

Then you have a problem, what is the NT-only definition of Christianity when much of it's teaching are justified from the O.T. ?

Let's start with your definition of what you believe is the true N.T. definition of Christianity perhaps ?

You will have to explain what you mean that "much of it's teaching are justified from the O.T." While the OT fills in the context, it is not necessary to understand the actual content.
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#73

Three Centuries Of Christian Atrocities
(03-09-2020, 01:25 AM)SteveII Wrote: How do you think Hitler got an entire country to be okay murdering 6 million Jews?

Genocide seems to have been a favorite tool of the Old Testament god. Those Christians who implemented the Holocaust were simply following the examples laid out in the Bible on how to deal with undesirables who were taking up Lebensraum.

Also, it should be pointed out that the 30 Years' War was fought over whose definition of Christianity was correct. It was, by definition, caused by a split in Christian ideology. The atrocities in that war were precisely driven by Christian ideology, and disagreements about it.

(03-25-2020, 02:54 PM)SteveII Wrote: I am arguing for a NT-only definition of Christianity.

The fact that you must cherry-pick your own holy book in order to avoid the atrocities your god both commits and commands should tell you something about the evil nature of the faith you profess.
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#74

Three Centuries Of Christian Atrocities
(03-25-2020, 02:54 PM)SteveII Wrote:
(03-13-2020, 10:51 PM)Reltzik Wrote:
(03-11-2020, 05:26 PM)SteveII Wrote: I would say that the NT teaches that being a Christian should make you aware that you are not better than anyone else. Humility and thankfulness for undeserved grace is a pretty central theme.

That's certainly an interpretation I would take away from the NT as well.

But quite a few people don't.  That interpretation HAPPENS.  Leave out whether it's correct or incorrect.  It exists.  It affects the world.  It leads to harm.  Interpretation leads a thousand different directions, quite a few of them unsavory.  That's what makes it dangerous.

So I've asserted this several times already, but I'll put it to you as a challenge.  Can you offer either:

A)  A good argument that interpretation of the Bible (and acting on / living by that interpretation) is NOT a somewhat dangerous and/or reckless path to follow, given that a certain percentage of interpretations lead to very unhappy happenings?

.... or...

B)  Some way to get at original ideology without interpretation?

If not, it would seem that any widespread adoption of Christianity would result in some number of atrocities through harmful interpretations, without comment on whether those interpretations were correct or not.

I enjoyed reading your comments and the obvious thought you put behind them.

And talking with you has certainly been a step up from Drich.

(03-25-2020, 02:54 PM)SteveII Wrote: I'm going to go with B because I don't think it necessary to interpret the NT in the sense you mean.

Definition of interpret
transitive verb
1: to explain or tell the meaning of : present in understandable terms
interpret dreams
     needed help interpreting the results
2: to conceive in the light of individual belief, judgment, or circumstance : CONSTRUE
     interpret a contract
https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/interpreting

Throughout your response above, you used interpret/interpretation in the second sense of the definition. But I would go further than that. I think a case can be made that much of the NT content is already the interpretation (in the sense of 1) of the underlying truths. Let's grant for the sake of this argument that the gospels contain the teachings of Jesus (as most Christians believe). Jesus took great pains to "explain or tell the meaning of." He used parables and analogies everywhere.

I'm not sure I agree with your view of this, since dream-interpretation is being filed under definition 1.  Do you really think that people interpreting dreams are engaged in a reliable methodology?

But okay, I'll play along.  So when Christians try to glean the moral guidance the Bible, they'd be interpreting (definition 2) something which contains several interpretations (definition 1).  I don't see how that avoids the problems inherent in interpretation (definition 2).

And that's before we get into the editorial decisions involved in assembling the canon in the first place, especially deciding which texts to include as canonical and which ones to leave out.  Obviously someone (or several someones) interpreted (definition 2) which texts were reliable and which ones weren't, but why should we trust that they did so accurately (EDIT: meaning, without the problems that we've seen with interpretation, definition 2)?  As just one example, the standard which included the Book of Revelation while simultaneously excluding the Apocalypse of Peter has always eluded me.  We have in Revelation John having a dream, admitting it was a dream, interpreting (definition 2... or 1... I think it's 2?) that dream as divine revelation rather than just the sort of surreal absurdity that is normal to dreams.  Then later priests interpreted (definition 2) him as having interpreted correctly, and based on this interpretation of his interpretation canonized it.  Even if there were a clear definition-1 dream interpretation within the text (and there is, if it counts as definition-1), the decisions that elevated that dream to canon clearly involved definition-2 interpretation.

(03-25-2020, 02:54 PM)SteveII Wrote: Take the passages I mentioned previously. Matthew 5 (the Sermon on the Mount) or Luke 10 (Love you neighbor as yourself, who is your neighbor?...the Good Samaritan). I'm not sure there needs to be any attempt "to explain or tell the meaning of". The underlying truths were just explained in plain language.  With the nature of the NT, it would take hours to cite all the similar gospel passages and then move on to the epistles which echo the themes but provide more "how and why" to implement them--it would be easier for someone to cite an example to the contrary.

You brought up the passage below as a possible source of interpretation issues.

Matthew 5:17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. 19 Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.

The last verse seems very important to the meaning of the previous verses because it answer the question "why am I saying this?" AND, the very next verse starts the series of (hate is a bad a murder, lust is as bad as adultery, and ends with loving your enemy) to make it even more difficult to keep the law--because the point is no one can keep the law--it is and always was impossible.

There is no reasonable way to spin these verses to imply that some atrocity x is permitted because Jesus didn't abolish the OT Law. If a "convert or kill" has it's root here, you simply pulled a verse out of context because any potential inference (and I think even that characterization is being to generous) to that is quickly cleared up with more plain language from the same passage. Further, there are several other passages that deal with what the law's purpose is in even clearer terms.

- No one (except for Jesus) has ever succeeded in keeping the law (Acts 15:10)!
- The law illustrates the impossible standard (Galatians 3:10-11; Galatians 5:3)
- The law cannot bring salvation (Romans 3:20; Galatians 2:8-10, 16; Galatians 3:1-5).
- As Paul makes clear, the law's job was to act as a schoolmaster in order to bring us to Christ (Galatians 4:1-7).

I will say that a few secondary doctrines are not as clear as we would like and --but I think they are all in-house squabbles and not germane to atrocity justification. Let me know if I am wrong.[/quote]

I think that would depend on which secondary doctrines you're talking about, but I also think you missed the point.

I didn't bring those passages up as examples of possible sources of interpretation issues.  That wasn't a theoretical exercise.  I brought those passages up as actual sources of interpretation issues.  Those passages have actually been used to arrive at those interpretations.  The NT law still being in force, for example, is a key doctrine of the Seventh-Day Adventists, which is why they keep kosher and hold their sabbath on Saturdays.  You're trying to walk me through your own path to your own interpretation (which I agree seems on its face fairly straightforward and relatively benign) as a way of supporting a conclusion about how the Bible should be read, yet this is not a reliable or even relevant point to how it often has been read.  Say "We should read the text this way with this result" all you want, but that doesn't change me saying "The text has been read this other way, with this other result."

We seem to be having two different conversations here.  You're focusing on how the Bible should be read in theory (well, under one theory), and I'm focusing on how it sometimes get read in practice.

(03-25-2020, 02:54 PM)SteveII Wrote: You brought up slavery as an example of interpretations that were used to justify both sides. Those who used the Bible to support it needed to do two things: 1) equivocate on the various types of slavery and 2) ignore vast stretches of the Bible. Taken together, using the Bible as a defense is illegitimate. Such an assessment is not limited to our time or culture because neither of those two things change over time or culture. Chattel slavery based on race is contrary to Christianity for all times because it violates core principles of Christianity.

I suppose that depends on what you identify as the core principles of Christianity, which I'd in turn identify as a matter of interpretation (definition 2).  In your case, you seem to be identifying them as love/obey God and love/be kind to others, along the lines of Mark 12:28-31.  But does loving someone necessarily preclude enslaving them, by any standard a person may apply?  I'd interpret that as yes, it does (barring some edge-case ethical dilemma like an evil king telling you to either take this person as a slave or he'll execute them), but I also acknowledge that's my interpretation and that other people can, will, and have interpret otherwise.  So, in the larger context of the Bible, what seems to be the original meaning?  (Assuming, for the sake of argument, that there is an original meaning rather than a different one for every author.)

Well, let's look at 1 Timothy.  The opening of 1 Timothy identifies this as a letter from Paul to Timothy, operating in Ephesus.  IIRC, Paul's viewed as something of an authority in Christianity, second perhaps only to Jesus.  (And in practice, I've seen a lot of Christians who care more about what Paul said than what Jesus said.)  While Biblical scholarship disputes Paul's authorship, it's not really reasonable to expect that everyone or even a majority of people who attempt to interpret the Bible will have much knowledge of the ins and outs of Biblical scholarship even in the modern day, much less throughout most of Christianity's history.  In any event, we're talking about the text and what it seems to say, not scholarship on how authentic the text is.

1 Timothy 6:1 can, with a bit of squinting, seem almost defensible.  It says that slaves should be obedient and respectful, but gives the reason that doing otherwise could cause God's name and the church's teaching to be slandered.  It provides a practical, rather than moral, reason for slaves to play along... but that practicality is about the religion's reputation.  Paul certainly isn't showing any kindness to slaves in placing reputation above freedom.  But okay, for the sake of argument, MAYBE we could say this isn't in direct opposition to what you describe as the core principles.  Moving on, we run face-first into:

1 Timothy 6:2, NIV Wrote:Those who have believing masters should not show them disrespect just because they are fellow believers. Instead, they should serve them even better because their masters are dear to them as fellow believers and are devoted to the welfare of their slaves.

Now this is an odd duck, if we are to believe that slavery is contrary to the core of Christianity.  The Christian masters are readily, without any contention, identified as Christian believers.  Not only are slaves to serve them, but to serve them better than they would a non-Christian.  A pointed assumption is made that the masters are devoted to the slaves' welfare... something I would question as a matter of course, but that's probably my modern-day-culture bias talking.  In any event, the author puts it forward as fact.

I have difficulty interpreting(!) this text as not clearly meaning (if not explicitly, at least of necessity) that Christians are permitted, without censure, from owning slaves, and that owning slaves must be at least coherent with Christianity and its principles.  I'm not aware of any NT passage that says otherwise.

What's more, Ephesus was Roman territory.  Under Roman law, slaves were chattel.  The children of slaves were automatically slaves, and otherwise slaves were usually taken from the conquest of surrounding tribes and nations.  Was it chattel slavery based on race?  Not as we understand it, no.  Our modern concepts of race didn't really form until, oh, somewhere around late Renaissance times.  I could go back and forth on whether chattel slavery based on race is worse than chattel slavery based on nationality, or just as bad, but in my book they're both pretty awful.  But in the book of 1 Timothy, they aren't.

Whether you dispute this interpretation is beside the point.  The point is that this interpretation has happened.  For a good chunk of Christianity's history, it was the dominant view.  Regardless of what interpretation is or isn't correct (or even if there is such a thing as a correct interpretation), this highlights the unreliability of interpretation as an objective method.

(03-25-2020, 02:54 PM)SteveII Wrote: A quick comment about Jewish Deicide. How would one draw the conclusion that an entire race is culpable for putting Jesus to death from anything in the NT? I could see if you didn't have a NT perhaps but nearly every main character and author was Jewish and the entire theme depends on Jesus being crucified. I read the article on how people justified it. It is really really thin and, as I said in the last paragraph, violates core principles of Christianity.

Again, whether this violates the core principles depends on what interprets the core principles of Christianity as being.  The point is that the text has been interpreted in a manner supporting this doctrine and, through it antisemitism.  

(03-25-2020, 02:54 PM)SteveII Wrote: No discussion on this would be complete without pointing out that there is a difference between Catholic and protestant views and can lead to confusion. The Catholics believe that they have the unique ability to add to what it means to be a Christian. That obviously leads to confusion because that makes many concepts a moving target. I am arguing for a NT-only definition of Christianity.

Obviously any doctrine of Jewish Deicide has to be based entirely on the NT, since the entire basis of the doctrine is to be found in NT accounts.

And as for the Catholic/Protestant distinction?  Irrelevant.  Belief in Jewish Deicide is to be found among believers of all three major sects of Christianity: Orthodox, Catholic, and, yes, Protestant.

No less a Protestant than Martin Luther explicitly preached Jewish Deicide.  From his treatise On the Jews and Their Lies:  "So we are even at fault in not avenging all this innocent blood of our Lord and of the Christians which they shed for three hundred years after the destruction of Jerusalem, and the blood of the children they have shed since then (which still shines forth from their eyes and their skin). We are at fault in not slaying them."  (Martin Bertram's translation).  Note the language here:  "We are even at fault in not avenging all this innocent blood..." It's not enough simply to say they're allowed to persecute Jews.  Not persecuting is not allowed.  They must persecute Jews.

(03-25-2020, 02:54 PM)SteveII Wrote: In summary, a 'Christian interpretation atrocity' is because of interpretation (in the second sense of the definition). I think it is obvious that the NT as a whole acts as a check against taking passages out of context--especially in the categories of violence and hate.

By definition, if you're taking the NT as a whole, you can't be taking passages out of context.  But I think you mean "bearing in mind the meaning of all the other passages and what they indicate about what the particular passage you're looking at should mean."  Except I don't think you're doing that either, because you didn't interpret the core principles in a way consistent with that difficult passage in 1 Timothy 6.  

So, two points to summarize.

1)  Your distinction between the two types of interpretation, even if I play along with it, is not an answer to my challenge, since to get at definition-1 interpretation you would still need to employ definition-2 interpretation.

2)  I'm talking about how the text has historically been (and is presently) interpreted, and what were the consequences of that interpretation, as a matter of historical (and current) fact, regardless of whether those interpretations are correct or incorrect.  I'm not talking about arguments over how interpretation should be done in theory, or which interpretation actually is or isn't correct.
"To surrender to ignorance and call it God has always been premature, and it remains premature today." - Isaac Asimov
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#75

Three Centuries Of Christian Atrocities
Poor Stevie.  He has never learned that what people "say" is far less important than what they "do."

Here's a little primer on this xtian love that he prattles on about. 

https://sourcebooks.fordham.edu/mod/1572stbarts.asp

Quote: As recorded by statesman and historian, De Thou (1553-1617), who was a witness to the events on St. Bartholomew Day as a youth. Here, he is relating the events leading up to the Massacre and the orders of the Queen of France, Catherine de'Medici.

So it was determined to exterminate all the Protestants and the plan was approved by the queen. They discussed for some time whether they should make an exception of the king of Navarre and the prince of Condé. All agreed that the king of Navarre should be spared by reason of the royal dignity and the new alliance. The duke of Guise, who was put in full command of the enterprise, summoned by night several captains of the Catholic Swiss mercenaries from the five little cantons, and some commanders of French companies, and told them that it was the will of the king that, according to God's will, they should take vengeance on the band of rebels while they had the beasts in the toils. Victory was easy and the booty great and to be obtained without danger. The signal to commence the massacre should be given by the bell of the palace, and the marks by which they should recognize each other in the darkness were a bit of white linen tied around the left arm and a white cross on the hat.


...

Quote:When the Chevalier d'Angouleme, who could scarcely believe his eyes, had wiped away with a cloth the blood which overran the face and finally had recognized him, some say that he spurned the body with his foot. However this may be, when he left the house with his followers he said: "Cheer up, my friends! Let us do thoroughly that which we have begun. The king commands it." He frequently repeated these words, and as soon as they had caused the bell of the palace clock to ring, on every side arose the cry, "To arms !" and the people ran to the house of Coligny. After his body had been treated to all sorts of insults, they threw it into a neighboring stable, and finally cut off his head, which they sent to Rome. They also shamefully mutilated him, and dragged his body through the streets to the bank of the Seine, a thing which he had formerly almost prophesied, although he did not think of anything like this. As some children were in the act of throwing the body into the river, it was dragged out and placed upon the gibbet of Montfaucon, where it hung by the feet in chains of iron; and then they built a fire beneath, by which he was burned without being consumed; so that he was, so to speak, tortured with all the elements, since he was killed upon the earth, thrown into the water, placed upon the fire, and finally put to hang in the air.


And fucking jesus smiled.... or so the perpetrators said.
Robert G. Ingersoll : “No man with a sense of humor ever founded a religion.”
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