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Goodbye Jesus

Inter Religious Dialog Includes Atheists


R. S. Martin

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FROM: Affirming Truth In A Modern/Postmodern World (Full Title: Missiological Implications Of Epistemological Shifts:Affirming Truth In A Modern/Postmodern World) by Paul G. Hiebert, Trinity Press Internationa, Harrisburg, PA, 1999.

 

To find common grounds for discussions, we must move away from a Christoeentrie theology to a theocentrie theology. Some go beyond this and argue that to include all humans, atheists as well, theology must deal with the central human problems of justice, peace, and the integrity of creation (Hiebert, 1999:62-63). [emphasis added]

 

This passage shows me hope for humanity if it is to be found. It does call for tolerance on the part of atheists. If we want this to work, if we want peace on earth with our fellow humans for whom religion is important, we can't call for the eradication of god and religion.

 

Hiebert seems to be of the same theological trend as Ted Peters. Both seem to like environmentalism--see his reference to "integrity of creation." Hiebert is a Mennonite and modern Mennonites capitalize on peace and justice--in my opinion they over-do it to the level of superficialty and hypocracy but maybe that's just my bias because I can't stand the overt Mennonitism whether it's Old Order or liberal.

 

Biases aside, I got this book out of the library of the local Mennonite college and assume it represents the theology of at least some local Mennonites. It was recommened to me by one of my profs who is married to a Mennonite. I did not know that any Mennonites agreed that atheists should be accepted as "good enough" people. That could have positive implications for me. My landlady is Mennonite.

 

Not sure where I'm going with this. First I was posting it in the Coleseum and then I started rambling so I moved it here. I'm just sort of overwhelmed to see that ANY Christians see us as good enough or even on an almost equal level with them. And then the Mennonite connection hit me, with my landlady being Mennonite and all. Not that I'm in a hurry to disclose, but I might want to share my thesis with her once it's all complete and it really is a testimony of sorts about my deconversion. I don't know where I'm going really.

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FROM: Affirming Truth In A Modern/Postmodern World (Full Title: Missiological Implications Of Epistemological Shifts:Affirming Truth In A Modern/Postmodern World) by Paul G. Hiebert, Trinity Press Internationa, Harrisburg, PA, 1999.

 

To find common grounds for discussions, we must move away from a Christoeentrie theology to a theocentrie theology. Some go beyond this and argue that to include all humans, atheists as well, theology must deal with the central human problems of justice, peace, and the integrity of creation (Hiebert, 1999:62-63). [emphasis added]

 

This passage shows me hope for humanity if it is to be found. It does call for tolerance on the part of atheists. If we want this to work, if we want peace on earth with our fellow humans for whom religion is important, we can't call for the eradication of god and religion.

 

It sounds as though you're looking for a palatable flavor of Christianity. Is that the case?

 

 

Rob

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No.

 

However, Christianity is not going to go away. We might as well accept that fact and find a way to live with it. It's really good, in my opinion, to find that some Christians are also looking for way to live with atheists. That was good news for me and I wanted to share it. If that is what you mean by "palatable" then my answer is yes. But I can't join Christianity.

 

I like studying Christian theology so I've been reading--not to convert but to learn.

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Well, a good way for Christians to start getting along with atheists is to stop trying to force their beliefs on others otherwise I could care less about what Christians belief. I just wish they would show the same courtesy to me.

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That does sound good...

 

Its certainly heartening to hear someone saying that we can have, not just coexistence but equality.

 

Still I'm always pessimistic where Christianity is concerned, I wonder if something like that would be palatable to Xians en masse. A belief in intrinsic superiority and divine blessing over everyone else is a powerful thing, no matter how little bearing it has in reality. Many people will continue to want to believe that way and think of us as a problem to be pushed aside and kept out of society as much as possible.

 

Furthermore the Bible, as it stands seems to make the position of non-believers in relation to the devout. I don't know how that can be worked around.

 

Ruby, do you have a link to the full article? I would like to read it, if you don't mind.

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Furthermore the Bible, as it stands seems to make the position of non-believers in relation to the devout. I don't know how that can be worked around.

 

I'm interested in understanding the point you were making, but I think you accidentally omitted something in the sentence. Can you restate it?

 

 

Thanks,

 

Rob

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No.

 

However, Christianity is not going to go away. We might as well accept that fact and find a way to live with it. It's really good, in my opinion, to find that some Christians are also looking for way to live with atheists. That was good news for me and I wanted to share it. If that is what you mean by "palatable" then my answer is yes. But I can't join Christianity.

 

I like studying Christian theology so I've been reading--not to convert but to learn.

 

Ruby, I'm struggling to understand you. I hope you know that when I ask you these questions, and I'm not trying to be confrontational. If you were, indeed, looking for a brand of Christianity that you can feel comfortable with, I wouldn't criticize you for it. But getting past that, here's my question:

 

Why does it matter if some Christians decide to tolerate atheists? Christianity is a religion that has as its primary mission the conversion of all atheists to Christianity. Conversely, I don't see all of us unbelievers banding together to stamp out Christianity. I already tolerate Christians who tolerate me, even though I believe they would be better off simply living their own lives, without programming by churches or religious dogmatists. And I'm sure they feel the same way about me. But fundamentalist Christians cannot be friends with atheists. They can try to convert us, but they can't be our friends.

 

I have some friends who have converted to Christianity. The friendships are strained, mainly because they can't seem to refrain from talking about God as though their religious view of the universe is the absolute, undeniable, unimpeachable truth. they aren't unkind toward me, they simply can't help it. The religion becomes a barrier, something like a cloud of poison gas that belches from their mouths that I have to wade through in order to have any real human interaction. And when I get past that cloud, there's nothing to talk about.

 

That's why I asked you if you were looking for a palatable flavor of the religion to perhaps become involved with. I truly believe that any flavor of Christianity that allows equal status for atheists is not actually Christianity. Christianity, at its core, holds that atheists are damned, and redemption is the key to salvation. How can there be parity between the two?

 

 

Rob

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But fundamentalist Christians cannot be friends with atheists. They can try to convert us, but they can't be our friends.

 

I have some friends who have converted to Christianity. The friendships are strained, mainly because they can't seem to refrain from talking about God as though their religious view of the universe is the absolute, undeniable, unimpeachable truth. they aren't unkind toward me, they simply can't help it. The religion becomes a barrier, something like a cloud of poison gas that belches from their mouths that I have to wade through in order to have any real human interaction. And when I get past that cloud, there's nothing to talk about.

 

That's why I asked you if you were looking for a palatable flavor of the religion to perhaps become involved with. I truly believe that any flavor of Christianity that allows equal status for atheists is not actually Christianity. Christianity, at its core, holds that atheists are damned, and redemption is the key to salvation. How can there be parity between the two?

 

 

Rob

 

 

You're right Rob.

Christians are in the world not "Of" the world. We (non-believers) are all what's wrong with the world according to their buybull. The more one is into their dogma the less likely the chances they are able to talk or accept anyone outside of that dogma. They have a duty to recruit and expand their numbers. Each non-believer they encounter is either a test from god or a temptation from Satan. These same people rejoice at the thought of hell and people burning. These same people can't wait for the rapture to leave us all behind and suffer for daring not to believe. They take great pride and happiness in this line of thought. They are smug and self righteous, and have all the answers of course.

 

I agree that liberal Christian or CINO Christians do not have this mindset, but these types of people don't live by the letter of dogma, and I have to agree with Rob on this, they are viewed by their fellow xtians as non-believers rebelling against god. IE, not actual "christians"

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I already tolerate Christians who tolerate me, even though I believe they would be better off simply living their own lives, without programming by churches or religious dogmatists. And I'm sure they feel the same way about me. But fundamentalist Christians cannot be friends with atheists. They can try to convert us, but they can't be our friends.

 

I agree. It is the case not only with atheists, but also if you are of any other religious persuasion whether it be pagan, hindu, buddhist, etc. That is because to fundamentalist Christians their way is the only way. There can at best be tolerance. To them you are fundamentally wrong and mistaken about what is most important in this life and you will pay for it in the next life.

 

I think it is a different case with liberal Christians. There friendship is possible. They read the Bible metaphorically so they don't have that closed off, rock hard certainty that fundamentalists have.

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Ruby, do you have a link to the full article? I would like to read it, if you don't mind.

 

Sorry, Doc, it's in a book. I listed all the publishing info....I'm looking to see what is available on the web. Here's an In Memoriam: Dr. Paul Hiebert, 1932-2007, which tells a lot about the author of the book. Here is a full-scale article on Paul Hiebert: A Life Remembered. Apparently, he was a very influential professor of cultural anthropology and missiology, writing right up to his death. Tells a lot about what he believed and his attitude toward the world and other people.

 

He started out with traditional mission theory where you go in and convert people to the Western mindset. His last books were on world views. The book this OP quotes, as the title suggests, is about epistemologies over the course of time since the Enlightenment. He looks at three main epistemologies: Chapter 1: Positivism, Chapter 2: Instrumentalism and Idealism, and Chapter 3: Critical Realism--A Way Ahead.

 

Here's the rough outline of how he sets up his chapters:

 

[Name of epistemology] and Modern Science

Characteristics of [Name of epistemology]

[Name of epistemology] and Anthropology

[Name of epistemology], Modernity, and Colonialism

[Name of epistemology] and Christianity

[Name of epistemology] and Theology

Theology and Science

[Name of epistemology] and Missions

Attacks of [Name of epistemology]

Internal Attacks

External Attacks

 

As you can see, he covers a lot of secular topics. The book was recommended to me as a way to learn about epistemologies and I am finding it very helpful; it's teaching style fits my learning style--if I can stomache the few overt Christian biases. (One can always skip a few things if the rest is helpful.) He also presents charts in which he compares how the different epistemologies see things. One is about whether an umpire calls a certain pitch in baseball a strike or ball. There were five different answers depending which epistemology the umpire was using. I recognized them all.

 

I conclude that positivism and idealism (I am somewhat unclear about the various levels of all these terms) go together and are dogmatic: The Bible says, I believe it, that settles it. Critical realism recognizes an objective truth but allows for all the shades of grey from white to black. That's why I am saying that I have done the research and I understand why people think there is a god; it makes sense to me that people are religious though I think we have scientific evidence that it all begins and ends in the human psyche. It allows me to hold what seems to me to be objectively true without denouncing what another person holds to be objectively true; at the same time it allows us to compare and contrast belief systems for truth value.

 

Some of the other epistemologies say, "You have your truth and I have mine. We each go our own way. There is no objective truth and we cannot compare our beliefs." That may work for peaceful coexistence but it does not work for building a knowledge base or coming to conclusions about matters. That is my opinion on the matter, and it seems also to be Hiebert's. I think epistemology is at bottom of some of the charges brought against Christians on these forums. However, I'm still very new in this so any statement I make might be premature.

 

Re all Christians always reject all atheists--that's a blanket statement and I don't accept it at face value. I'm finding new information that I have not yet seen discussed on these forums or experienced in my own life. I'm posting it for discussion in this thread.

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However, Christianity is not going to go away. We might as well accept that fact and find a way to live with it. It's really good, in my opinion, to find that some Christians are also looking for way to live with atheists. That was good news for me and I wanted to share it. If that is what you mean by "palatable" then my answer is yes. But I can't join Christianity.

I find it interesting that we've come to the same conclusions. Religion in general won't go away either, not only Christianity, and we have to find ways to make it possible to live together and accept each other. Unfortunately, somehow it always seems like whatever social system we create, it breaks down and become dogmatic to one or the other side.

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I think many arguments stem from a lack of shared epistemology Ruby.

 

Edit: I think it would be interesting if this became a discussion about epistemology.

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Well, a good way for Christians to start getting along with atheists is to stop trying to force their beliefs on others otherwise I could care less about what Christians belief. I just wish they would show the same courtesy to me.

 

What I'm saying is that such Christians might exist somewhere and their numbers might increase in the future. That paragraph gave me hope and that is why I posted it. To learn more about the man who wrote it and what he believed, read the links I posted to Doc above. He seems to be looking for points of common interest. I consider that an important step in the right direction.

 

Closing the gap between Christians and atheists is not going to happen in one day, or in one generation. However, this struggle has been going on for centuries. I'm only looking at the time period since the Enlightenment. I think that since about the 1600s we can see a more or less steady stream of thought. The struggle between Christians and atheists has been on-going all this time and I think the gap is closing. Some of us might live to see it happen, maybe not with hard-core fundies but with the average Christian.

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I already get along with "liberal Christians." We already have a dialog. Maybe this means they recognize they have a fanatic element that is making peaceful coexistence impossible. If so, perhaps they will address their more fundamentalist brothers and sisters on how to treat us heathens!

 

- Chris

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That does sound good...

 

Its certainly heartening to hear someone saying that we can have, not just coexistence but equality.

 

Still I'm always pessimistic where Christianity is concerned, I wonder if something like that would be palatable to Xians en masse. A belief in intrinsic superiority and divine blessing over everyone else is a powerful thing, no matter how little bearing it has in reality. Many people will continue to want to believe that way and think of us as a problem to be pushed aside and kept out of society as much as possible.

 

Furthermore the Bible, as it stands seems to make the position of non-believers in relation to the devout. I don't know how that can be worked around.

 

Strategic cherry-picking, Doc, cherry-picking. That's what people here call it. There are other ways to look at it if one is willing but one must be willing to forego fundamentalist brainwashing and hermeneutics.

 

The fundamentalist hermemenutic does not take into consideration the social and historical context of the biblical writers. It does not look at the nuances and semantics of the words in that specific time and place and culture. Higher biblical criticism does all of that.

 

The hermeneutic of higher biblical criticism does all that and more. It then asks: What did it mean to the writer? And when they figure out what it meant to the writer, they figure out what parallels exist between the writer's socio-historical and cultural situation and the present reader's situation. The "present reader" can be anybody in any part of the world alive today. Obviously, the Bible verse on being a good steward means something very different to a wealthy oil CEO with a private jet than it does to a widow scrounging to keep her babies alive in a leaking tin shack with no food or water supply. With the hermeneutic of higher biblical criticism (based on what little knowledge I have today on this topic), both these "present readers" would be encouraged to get out of the verse what they felt applied to them personally...As I write I realize that epistemology of the biblical critic would play into the hermeneutic, too, and I am not sure what the outcome would be.

 

I understand Hiebert addressed this issue of hermeneutics, too, somewhere in his teaching and writing career. I haven't learned it yet.

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I already get along with "liberal Christians." We already have a dialog. Maybe this means they recognize they have a fanatic element that is making peaceful coexistence impossible. If so, perhaps they will address their more fundamentalist brothers and sisters on how to treat us heathens!

 

- Chris

 

Hey! I love the optimism! :)

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Well, a good way for Christians to start getting along with atheists is to stop trying to force their beliefs on others otherwise I could care less about what Christians belief. I just wish they would show the same courtesy to me.

 

What I'm saying is that such Christians might exist somewhere and their numbers might increase in the future. That paragraph gave me hope and that is why I posted it. To learn more about the man who wrote it and what he believed, read the links I posted to Doc above. He seems to be looking for points of common interest. I consider that an important step in the right direction.

 

Closing the gap between Christians and atheists is not going to happen in one day, or in one generation. However, this struggle has been going on for centuries. I'm only looking at the time period since the Enlightenment. I think that since about the 1600s we can see a more or less steady stream of thought. The struggle between Christians and atheists has been on-going all this time and I think the gap is closing. Some of us might live to see it happen, maybe not with hard-core fundies but with the average Christian.

 

But to what end? My opinion, for what it's worth, is this: If Christianity became so watered down that Christians accepted atheists as equals, and were so non-judgmental that atheists felt perfectly content to just be themselves around them, and they could all live as one big happy family, Christianity would simply die out. Accept for a moment that this is true, just for the sake of discussion. Religions don't survive the test of time if they aren't both dogmatic and enthusiastically promoting themselves as the ultimate answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything. (Example: Whatever happened to the Roman gods?) It seems impossible to me that there is a way for Christianity to reinvent itself to simultaneously be robust, clearly defined (and thus identifiable and differentiated from other religions), and all-inclusive. Aside: Sam Harris has some interesting things to say about so-called "liberal" Christians. Essentially, he defines them as intelligent people who choose to believe that Christianity is something it isn't, just so they can have their cake and eat it too.

 

But here's another piece of information to mull over: The latest statistics show evangelical Christianity on the rise in the U.S, and (if I recall correctly) around the world. If that stat is correct, we are moving toward a more religiously repressive and polarized society, and not toward one that is more tolerant of disparate beliefs. It could come to pass that atheists are afraid to raise their heads, for fear of having them lopped off. It wouldn't be the first time.

 

 

Rob

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Aside: Sam Harris has some interesting things to say about so-called "liberal" Christians. Essentially, he defines them as intelligent people who choose to believe that Christianity is something it isn't, just so they can have their cake and eat it too.

That's a quote that I am going to save. It's true. The "liberal" Christians re-define it for themselves - no matter if the redefinition flies in the face of the creed their particular main line denomination likes to repeat in every service. Now there is no consensus on actually what a "christian" is among "christians", since the creeds have been basically trashed.

 

But here's another piece of information to mull over: The latest statistics show evangelical Christianity on the rise in the U.S, and (if I recall correctly) around the world. If that stat is correct, we are moving toward a more religiously repressive and polarized society, and not toward one that is more tolerant of disparate beliefs. It could come to pass that atheists are afraid to raise their heads, for fear of having them lopped off. It wouldn't be the first time.

 

I haven't read these statistics but it doesn't surprise me. If the economy continues to go down the tubes here in the U.S. you will see a lot more adherents of this repressive fundamentalist type of Christianity. These folks are basically united in their beliefs. They all agree, for example, that Jesus is divine. Tolerance always goes down the tubes when people are faced with survival. In the face of hard times, the watered-down christianity will go.

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But to what end? My opinion, for what it's worth, is this: If Christianity became so watered down that Christians accepted atheists as equals, and were so non-judgmental that atheists felt perfectly content to just be themselves around them, and they could all live as one big happy family, Christianity would simply die out.

 

Maybe you haven't been around these forums enough, Rob, but that is the dream of everyone I know around here (give or take a few fundies)--have Christianity as we know it die out. Look at the forums in my sig. I don't want any bloodshed but if they water down their own religion--what more could we ask for?

 

I've been studying the history of Christianity in some depth and it is evident that fundamentalism is a new phenomenon. Controveries arose about German higher biblical criticism around 1750-1800 and intensified so that by 1870 mainline churches were splitting across North America. By 1910-1915 The Fundamentals had been written and distributed around the world and the Scopes Monkey Trial in 1925 proved the existence of fundamentalism. The fundies lost that trial and went underground for a couple of decades, only to re-emerge around 1960-1970 in the political arena. 2001 to the present they've been fighting a world war. Up to that last statement I build on scholars such as George M. Marsden. The last statement is built on a more recent book put out by authors of The Fundamentalism Project.

 

There may be other theories about fundamentalist religion out there by now but this is what I have been introduced to as the classical theory to which all scholars of fundamentalism adhere. I am not advanced enough in my studies to know more, and neither have I seen anything on these forums that differs from this theory. I have not studied other religions at all except for a few intro courses.

 

I do not consider it to be my task to decide what qualifies as Christianity; only to learn what the various groups believe. I have no standard against which to measure a person to decide whether or not he/she is a Chrisian. If they say they are Christians I accept them as Christians. My job is not to quantify and qualify but to describe and define what already exists. I fail to understand the exChristian need to decide who is in and out when it comes to Christianity. We're out and glory be!

 

But here's another piece of information to mull over: The latest statistics show evangelical Christianity on the rise in the U.S, and (if I recall correctly) around the world. If that stat is correct, we are moving toward a more religiously repressive and polarized society, and not toward one that is more tolerant of disparate beliefs. It could come to pass that atheists are afraid to raise their heads, for fear of having them lopped off. It wouldn't be the first time.

 

As I say in the OP or soon thereafter, this book was written quite some time ago and very much has happened since then--the world has changed. I would be interested to see your statistics and to know the source. All the same, we need to keep our eyes open and hope alive. We need to be alert for strategies, for anything that might work to keep us and ours alive till the present crisis is over.

 

We've got some very intelligent people here, people who can think strategically and problem-solve, who understand politics on micro--and possibly macro--levels. We know the mind of the enemy and we know their tools. We know how to use their own tools against them. What they have is numbers, highly organized and finely-tuned bureaucracies. Back in the 1990s, Robertson bragged that he could crash the White House switchboard in short order. "That is power!" he told his people.

 

That is the brute power that has gotten us where we are today. But brute power alone would not have done it. Brute power alone cannot keep it there. Someone convinces there people that they're right.

 

I've found pens of bulls--male scholars from Oxford--who provide the intellectual "evidence" that keeps these people assured that they are building on solid scientific proof. I met a guy online with a PhD in science from Oxford who wrote his dissertation for the popular press. He writes the kind of science that proves the Bible is accurate. THESE GUYS ARE THE REAL ENEMY.

 

Gramps looked into it. The guy is not alone. There's a batch of them. We can do nothing so long as their kind are operating. I don't know how many of them there are around the world. But until and unless they are disabled and their books burned and disproved...

 

That is the facts as I know them. If you have any idea what action to take let's talk.

 

THE POWER OF FUNDAMENTALIST RELIGION MUST BE BROKEN!

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Furthermore the Bible, as it stands seems to make the position of non-believers in relation to the devout. I don't know how that can be worked around.

 

I'm interested in understanding the point you were making, but I think you accidentally omitted something in the sentence. Can you restate it?

 

 

Thanks,

 

Rob

 

:huh:

 

I'm not sure what happened there, thanks for pointing that out Rob.

 

What I meant to say was: The Bible is quite clear about the position of non-believers, I doubt even non-fundamentalists will forget these. (Maybe not those exact words, but you get the gist)

 

If thy brother, the son of thy mother, or thy son, or thy daughter, or the wife of thy bosom, or thy friend, which is as thine own soul, entice thee secretly, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which thou hast not known, thou, nor thy fathers; Namely, of the gods of the people which are round about you ... Thou shalt not consent unto him, nor hearken unto him; neither shall thine eye pity him, neither shalt thou spare, neither shalt thou conceal him: But thou shalt surely kill him; thine hand shall be first upon him to put him to death, and afterwards the hand of all the people. And thou shalt stone him with stones, that he die." - Deuteronomy 13:6-10

 

 

"Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? And what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? ... Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord." 2 Corinthians 6:14-17

 

"For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist." 2 John 7

 

Like Ruby said, I think the answer lies in awareness of the historical context of the text and the writers intentions in putting it that way. Baby steps I guess.

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What I meant to say was: The Bible is quite clear about the position of non-believers, I doubt even non-fundamentalists will forget these. (Maybe not those exact words, but you get the gist)

 

If thy brother, the son of thy mother, or thy son, or thy daughter, or the wife of thy bosom, or thy friend, which is as thine own soul, entice thee secretly, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which thou hast not known, thou, nor thy fathers; Namely, of the gods of the people which are round about you ... Thou shalt not consent unto him, nor hearken unto him; neither shall thine eye pity him, neither shalt thou spare, neither shalt thou conceal him: But thou shalt surely kill him; thine hand shall be first upon him to put him to death, and afterwards the hand of all the people. And thou shalt stone him with stones, that he die." - Deuteronomy 13:6-10

 

 

"Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? And what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? ... Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord." 2 Corinthians 6:14-17

 

"For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist." 2 John 7

 

Like Ruby said, I think the answer lies in awareness of the historical context of the text and the writers intentions in putting it that way. Baby steps I guess.

 

Now I get a better idea of what you are saying, Doc. I have considerable acquaintance with fairly liberal Mennonites and Lutherans in my town. I think they are taking the "historical context" thing a lot further than what you are doing here. My observation suggests that they don't have to "forget" passages like the ones you listed here because they don't read them like this in the first place. You are picking out individual verses that they would say belong to much larger messages that must be taken as a whole--within their historical and social and cultural context. See what I mean?

 

This includes the intellectual and political ethos of the day in which the biblical writers wrote. For example, in what language did they write and what kind of punctuation and lettering system did they use? Also, where did the Psalms come from? For what purpose were they written and by whom, under what circumstances? I was taught some of them may well have been written by other people and adapted to the Israelite situation. Some were normally used for coronations.

 

King David is accredited with many Psalms. But we have many clues that he and King Solomon may have never existed. This has implications for major portions of the OT. I'm not sure where all these clues come from. Probably not from reading the Bible in context but from archaeology and other ancient records. Thus, I was given a sort of two-level understanding of some of the OT. There was the traditional OT narrative explained in terms of what people in the Mediteranean world would have lived like back then. Then there was also the explanation that there really is no realistic reason to believe that these specific biblical events ever happened. My teacher would sort of shrug her shoulders with an attitude of "this is the information I have to teach you; you are free to make of it what you will."

 

Some people found it seriously difficult. I found it very liberating to be allowed to accept the Bible the way the written word appeared to me, rather than in some tortured way that explained away the inconsistencies--at least my brain was working right. At last I knew it. That was worth so much to me.

 

It goes without saying that they did not accept Moses as the author of the first five books of the Bible. That, too, was worth knowing. There's just no way he could have written about his own death. The idea that the whole thing was put together after the Babylonian Captivity makes a lot of sense. I believe that ancient manuscripts of various writings may have been around for a long time and that these may have been used to compose it. However, the creation story and flood story were probably added after their sojourn in Babylonia. I forget exactly what theories my teacher proposed, but it would have been something along these lines.

 

Thus, if we read your Deuteronomy passage in light of that context, it has very little to no weight. Why? Because it was obviously a way for an embattled people to maintain some kind of ethnic boundaries. I am quite sure that the passage is code for not having sexual relations with neighbouring people. Service to god often meant some kind of sexual activity. Ever hear of temple prostitutes? I understand that the altered state of consciousness that goes along with orgasm was seen as evidence of god or spiritual experience. Something like that. The Israelites had them, too. The puritanical translators of the Bible of recent centuries found ways to circumvent translating the words into English that way.

 

I did not get too much out of my NT course but I'm sure similar cases apply to the NT passages you quote.

 

I think I may have to retract what I said above about liberal Christians cherry-picking. If the way you present a few verses from here and there is what you learned as a Christian, and if that is the general fundy way, I think it is the fundies who do the cherry-picking.

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