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The Great Christian Argument

Discussion in 'Philosophy and Religion' started by Satya, May 13, 2008.

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  1. Satya

    Satya C'est la vie
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    There has long been a division on one particular issue in Christianity and that is man's place when it comes to condemning sin.

    Most Catholics and most fundamentalist type Christians argue that man must go out into the world and condemn sin at every turn. That often translates into telling people they are going to hell if they don't repent. These Christians argue that only sin divides Christians and that fear, shame, guilt, and remorse are signs of spiritual healing.

    The more liberal Christian groups on the other hand, such as the Red Letter Christians argue that only Jesus/God have the right to condemn sin and to ask for repentance. These groups generally argue that it is the duty of every Christian to love God and to love his fellow sinners, sin and all. They believe that only love can bring people to God and that shame and guilt are tools that those who corrupt the word of God use to control.

    The fundamentalist type Christians have a few hurdles to cross since Jesus made comments like,

    "Judge not ye be judge"
    "Love thy neighbor as you love yourself"
    and so forth, thereby making the case that you can't judge people. However, they argue a specific distinction to get around this. They say that judging sin is not the same as judging sinners.

    Ultimately it comes down to one story in the Bible of questionable origin about a prostitute that was going to be stoned by a group of men.



    The fundamentalist type Christians argue that this clearly shows that Jesus says that men are capable of condemning sin while not condemning the sinner. Whereas the more liberal Christians argue that Jesus told all the men that he who is without sin could condemn her. No man condemned her, and thus Jesus did not condemn her. In doing so, they argue that Jesus was saying, no man has the right to condemn sin. And thus, as the argument goes, since he was sinless, he asked her to repent, since he was the only being who had the right to do so.

    So what are your thoughts on this big division in the scripture? Remember nobody is allowed to preach as per the forum rules, but I imagine that just sharing your own views is ok.
     
  2. Shai Gar

    Shai Gar Guest

    I completely agree on that point. I'd go so far as to say, anybody who condemns people cannot be christian because they're rejecting jesus's word that noone but god has the right to judge.
     
  3. Kwistalline

    Kwistalline Permanent Fixture

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    Wow. I'll have to get back with you on that one. It looks like you want biblical support, and all I have to offer right now are my opinions, which aren't enough to suffice an all-inclusive answer.
     
  4. OP
    Satya

    Satya C'est la vie
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    I want your personal opinion, not Biblical support. Preaching is the last thing I want in this thread.
     
  5. Kwistalline

    Kwistalline Permanent Fixture

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    Ok, I'm actually quite fine with that, being currently ill at the moment and really too lazy in general to do the research necessary!!

    All right, then. For me, it's really quite simple (which means, naturally, this will be a long and possibly very convoluted blog! - and if I get remotely close to preaching, please let me know! I still cannot figure out where the line is).

    God created the world perfect, but with a free will (and this is mainly where a lot of controversy lies, the imposition of God's will onto ours). Man disobeyed God and sin entered into the world. A wrong had been committed that could never be taken away. A wrong that had more to do with the nature of implicit trust than anything else. Eve didn't trust that God's truth was the only truth.

    From that point on man has struggled with sin. God's will for redemption was that a sacrificial offering be presented to him as a representation of mankind to redeem himself from his sins. Man was also to live a moral and upright life.

    The law was introduced quite a bit afterwards. Personally, I believe this was done b/c Isreal had degenerated so much due to the Egyptian influence that they could no longer distinguish what was moral and upright.

    The law was still not a substitute for sacrificial offerings, however. It was merely a set of principles "rules" if you want, to guide moral behavior.

    Jesus was sent to be the literal manifestation of ourselves in the form of a sacrificial offering, the precedent being set up long before. We know from various passages that this does not "eliminate" the law, either, but "completes" (that is a totally different discussion, however-but I include this b/c it relates to what follows) the law according to prophecy.

    Sin. What is it? By what characteristics can we identify it? I believe that sin is anything that goes against the character of God. However, if this is not well understood then people begin to label things which are not sins as the means for condemnation, which some of them are not (for example, I enjoy reading Harry Potter and I watch movies with swear words. I also drink alcohol. To some people, I cannot possibly be a christian, or I am a very bad christian).

    I do believe in evangelism, but I also believe that it is only through God's decision and the work of the holy spirit that men are chosen/choose conversion. I can help influence, but nothing I do, be it preaching, condemning, even loving-will ever MAKE someone change their mind. However, that doesn't mean I can evaluate my audience and assess which approach is appropriate for them. People want a uniform technique, something easy, something requiring little effort. Some choose only love. Some choose only hellfire. I choose after looking honestly at someone and recognizing their personal weanesses, strengths, motivations, etc. It's like selling a product, only with more heart. Perhaps it's more like a dr saying "you have a coronary blockage-here are your options, pros, cons, statistics. But the choice is yours". Naturally a cardiologist will seriously stress the need for a cardiac cath procedure, but all patients are required to sign a form of consent. We cannot force them, nor can we retain them if they refuse.

    The other thing most people don't consider are the natural gifts and talents God gives to his people. I'm talking the difference between those who are good at evangelism and are actually called to do so, and those who are not. The great commission doesn't say, "go into the world and convert", it says "go and make disciples". And I'm too tired to clarify the difference, but it has something to do with the grace of God, the mercy of his church, and the acceptance that we as God's people cannot control his kingdom no matter how hard we try-but we can nourish it.

    Sorry, that's the best I can do right now.
     
  6. gokartride

    gokartride Community Member

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    I'm a Catholic, and I will say that the whole thing about condemnation and guilt is a massive perversion of the faith, although it is sadly commonly held even among many Catholics.

    Anyway, I believe sin is a bad thing primarily because it does not work or is based on illusion. It limits us as human persons and effaces our ability to be whole and aware. That's the crux of it. The reason we are ill-equipped to judge is that we do not have, and will not have, full knowledge. Human woundedness, fear, finiteness, egoism (and more) are all factors that create disconnects within us...God sees and knows these. We do not. That does not mean we should not refer to something a sin (even though the word has largely lost it's meaning)....but projecting that on an individual is tricky. I am pleased to observe a profound sense of pastoral understanding and care around these matters (perhaps the most profound in human history) within christian churches, even if these matters seem different from the outside.
     
  7. OP
    Satya

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    That is certainly an interesting perspective. It's different than what has been proposed before on this board.
     
  8. gokartride

    gokartride Community Member

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    Yes, some will say that sin "offends God" as if to mean that God is easily scandalized and horrified. Not so....if God is offended by sin it is because sin hurts people...limits them...threatens them. There is a quiet, profound cosmic invitation written all over everything that is...and sin yanks us away into illusion. If it were your child, even with the limitations of human love, we could understand why sin would not be a good thing.

    It would be great if the churches would somehow rearticulate all this so a modern, more sceptical, and jaded world can hear what is really understood in our traditions with fresh words....as it is one must self-motivated to journey and search. It's all there though.
     
  9. qwertski

    qwertski Newbie

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    I agree with the saying: "Hate the sin. Love the sinner."
     
  10. OP
    Satya

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    Seems kind of dumb to me to hate a behavior. Why would you want to waste the energy? What is the purpose to hating other people's choices simply because they don't correspond with your morality? I can understand not accepting what you perceive as sin, and even not tolerating what you perceive as sin, but to hate what you perceive as sin just makes no sense to me whatsoever. What is the purpose of choosing to intensely dislike something, when you could simply choose to not accept or tolerate it? Why bring such negative emotions into the issue at all?

    When people argue the "Hate the sin. Love the sinner" philosophy, what I think they are actually doing is, "Hate the sinner but argue that I am only hating the sin." And I think most genuinely do believe they are doing the former when in reality, they are doing the latter.
     
  11. gokartride

    gokartride Community Member

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    I think what is meant by this is that we may denounce/identify a certain "sin"....basically because inflicts harm on our friends and loved ones. We may hate substance abuse, or lies, or sexual abuse, or intolerance....but for people wrapped up in these kinds of things the motivation would/should be to try and care for and help them. People become trapped, ensnared, wounded and they may want nothing more than to adopt more healthy life decisions. In the end, too (one must admit) none of us, were life circumstances different, would probably be any better off then they. That and we all have our own weaknesses and failings...maybe to a lesser degree....but that limit us, too.

    So the saying has more to do with dealing with a certain pastoral reality....recognizing the detrimental nature of certain behaviors, but not rejecting the person who may be caught in it. "Hate the sin" is perhaps a bit strong (imo) but from what I can tell pastorally this is how things work out among real people....it is actually meant to ward christians away from hatred and intolerance of persons!!

    Another interesting side note: in some christian traditions the person is seen as sinful (tainted as they are by the first sin) and are in need of a redemptive act for salvation. Other traditions see the person as made in the image of God and essentially good....but sin effaces that inherent dignity, blinds us, and limits us. The redemptive act, in this view, restores. They seem similar but actually yield very different approaches to pastoral care.
     
  12. OP
    Satya

    Satya C'est la vie
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    Forgive me, but I think it is stupid to hate "substance abuse, lies, sexual abuse, intolerance, etc." What good does it do to hate these things? I certainly can choose to not accept or tolerate them, but I don't have to actually hate them. They are simply choices that people make or have made. What is reasonable, intelligent, or even mature about hating a choice?

    It doesn't make sense to hate a choice. It makes sense to recognize how a choice is detrimental, and to refuse to tolerate or accept the choice, and even to help the person make healthier choices, but none of these options are conveyed in the word "hate". Hate simply means to strongly dislike, to be averse to, and to reject simply based on an emotional reaction. Therefore the saying "Hate the sin, Love the sinner" is, quite simply, retarded. That message isn't even conveyed anywhere in the Bible, it is an interpretation from the bible.

    Do you know where it comes from? I love how you use the word "pastoral" to describe it considering who originally said it. "Hate the sin, love the sinner" was said by Mahatma Gandhi. It comes from a Hindu, not a Christian. And I can tell you the Hindu conception of "sin" is in no way comparable to the Christian conception of sin. God does not want us to hate! God is love! It even says so in the Bible!

    1 John 4:8-9 says, "He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him."

    So if to not love, is not know God, how does it make even religious sense to "hate" sin?

    Now if you want to do it the half assed, INFP way, then go with Gandhi's old saying, but if you want to do it the INFJ way, then listen to how a true INFJ does it...

    "Sin boldly and love Christ more boldly still." Reverend Martin Luther King Jr.

    Here is an interesting side note. Most Christian traditions are based on ancient pagan rituals.
     
  13. gokartride

    gokartride Community Member

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    No you're right. In the sense you are referring to hate, no it is not right. In fact, being consumed by hate practically chokes out love...and love is the true focus as you observe. Many of these little maxims...once you break them apart...they are oversimplified.

    Yes, this is true....actually I believe pagan rituals were modified or christian feasts were superimposed over existing observances. Given the times/circumstances/conditions when these evolved, it shows a wonderful innovation, I think. What I find equally interesting is that there were sometimes parallels between the christian feast and the pagan one and this seemed to sparked imaginations on both sides.
     
  14. OP
    Satya

    Satya C'est la vie
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    Unless you want to redefine "hate" to a meaning it doesn't hold. That is one of the things I have never really liked about Christian groups, they very often simply make up new definitions for words so that they fit their interpretation. If you wish me to back up that statement, I will gladly provide countless examples. :mrgreen:

    Not exactly true of Christmas though, right? I mean, since Jesus was suppose to be born sometime in the summer months but they chose a day that was traditionally a giant feast and orgy. :twisted:
     
  15. gokartride

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    Well, the saying in question is just that...a popular saying. It seems to be used more as a reminder (in the face of bad/harmful behaviors) to not be excessively hard on the person. As many times as I've heard it (it isn't part of the vernacular in my particular community), the net effect seems to be about understanding people, not necessarily about hating anything.

    As for words usage changing....hey, words are words. Using alternate meanings to articulate ideas/concepts is fair game. That's why dictionaries have multiple meanings for the same word. I wouldn't get too mad a christians about this.

    As for Christmas, yes, they did what they could at the time and they did use some imagination. The birth of Christ was an important thing to call attention to/reflect upon in the early communities...the exact date and all that was secondary. Using an existing holiday, and there is still speculation on how all that happened, is pretty clever.
     
  16. OP
    Satya

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    Ah, perhaps you are right. I'm just peeved by those who take the saying literally, without even considering its implications. I've even argued with Christians who believed that "hate the sin, love the sinner" was said by Jesus Christ. I personally find the saying to be impractical and excessively idealistic, which is probably why it seems to resonate so well with the Fi type of morality as opposed to the Fe type that INFJs share.

    It's not fair game, it's a form of equivocation called arbitrary redefinition, and it is both illogical and manipulative. If you consider equivocation to be an intelligent means of communicating ideas, then I have to wonder how deceptive you are. I just find that trait to be among the most repulsive of religious thinkers because it demonstrates how they deliberately choose to be vague and selective in their thinking as opposed to being critical and objective. They distort the real meaning of things in order to make it say what they want it to say.
     
  17. gokartride

    gokartride Community Member

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    That may be true in many instances, although the ones that creep me out is the whole "spin" thing going on nowadays. Discussion of religion at it's highest levels often requires a precision of language that simply does not exist, and I agree it does come off as vague now and again. I've had trouble working through documents that were awkwardly translated from other languages...that was real tricky. At this higher, more scholastic level, I think accuracy is really somehting people shoot for, but I am sure there are many types of religious writings that use jargon all over the place...I'm not a fan of that at all. FWIW, I don't ever buy books in christian bookstores....university bookstores, maybe...but only if the book has amazing credentials. I will say (as a christian) navigating the church scene these days is very, very tricky, and I am often totally bewildered by things I see. I make very careful choices.
     
  18. OP
    Satya

    Satya C'est la vie
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    Well as a non heterosexual, I am merely a critic of the Christian faith. However, after awhile I get tired of people who say, "As a minister/follower of the gospel of Jesus Christ I firmly state that I am not prejudice towards homosexuals/bisexuals; however I do hate them for what they are and for what they represent." Therefore, I find many of the traditional aspects of the religion to be highly hypocritical. There are Christian groups of which I would love to be a part of, such as the Red Letter Christians and many Methodists, but even these are seen as "a liberal element that was spawned by the fathers of modernism and neo-orthodoxy that were practicing adulterers, moral perverts, and promoters of homosexuality." For a religion that is suppose to be based on love, forgiveness, and brotherhood, I detest what the dogma has made it into.
     
  19. gokartride

    gokartride Community Member

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    Yes, I think is is extremely easy to hang out/listen to the wrong batch of christians....it happens to me all the time!!! That said, I have also had the benefit of sitting down with some of the most grounded, open-minded, intelligent, and pastorally aware christians around....that's a whole different kettle of fish. In light of this, I definitely gravitate towards the latter group. Dialogue concerning sexual orientation takes place at very high levels among very thoughtful people...I would try to disregard the zealots. In fact, I do!!! ;)
     
  20. Naxx

    Naxx Permanent Fixture

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    The world created by Them, Everyone, and Nobody

    Through the years they made their own Maze

    Lost in the Torrent of Thoughts

    Wandering only What Is, Wrong and Write

    Blind as a Bat but still able to Fly

    The Centipede eats them for Dinner, Breakfast, or Lunch.

    "Beware the Jabberwock, my son!" He too lost his head.
     
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