February 13, 2017

"But no Muslim religious leader has yet stressed the crucial gap between divine purposes and dry legalism as powerfully as Jesus did."

"Jesus showed that sacrificing the spirit of religion to literalism leads to horrors, like the stoning of innocent women by bigoted men — as it still happens in some Muslim countries today. He also taught that obsession with outward expressions of piety can nurture a culture of hypocrisy — as is the case in some Muslim communities today. Jesus even defined humanism as a higher value than legalism, famously declaring, 'The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.' Can we Muslims also reason, 'The Shariah is made for man, not man for the Shariah'? Or, like Jesus, can we also suggest that the Kingdom of God — also called 'the Caliphate' — will be established not within any earthly polity, but within our hearts and minds? If Jesus is 'a prophet of Islam,' as we Muslims often proudly say, then we should think on these questions. Because Jesus addressed the very problems that haunt us today and established a prophetic wisdom perfectly fit for our times."

From "What Jesus Can Teach Today’s Muslims," a NYT op-ed by Mustafa Akyol.

Here's his new book: "The Islamic Jesus: How the King of the Jews Became a Prophet of the Muslims."

148 comments:

Brent said...

Absolute Trash. Intellectual garbage.
I have spent 46 years of my life reading the Bible daily. I study additional time both in groups and alone. I have spent time studying Islam over the years. A Muslim is no more a follower of Jesus than David Duke is a follower of Martin Luther King

Saint Croix said...

Bravo.

Daniel Jackson said...

A transcendental idea and a profound insight

However, like all things, being subject to corruption, ignorance overtakes all prophetic voice with time.

Certainly this idea is no difference than the fates of all seers as knowledge and experience become awash in misinterpretation and cartesian hogwash

Saint Croix said...

One of favorite bits of history is how an obscure lawyer named Gandhi learned some Christian theory by translating Tolstoy from the Russian. A Letter to a Hindu is brilliant.

From Christ to Tolstoy to Gandhi to King. Amazing.

Achilles said...

Many Muslims would behead this guy and most would cheer and call him a heretic.

Freeman Hunt said...

In case no one takes him up on the listening to Jesus thing, I hope he has bodyguards.

Kate said...

Just work on the shortened question: "Can we Muslims also reason?"

That's not a slam on anybody's mental acuity. It was Benedict's question at Regensburg. Reason is only a result of living in a knowable universe presided over by a consistent deity -- or, a consistent mechanism, if you prefer. Allah, as I understand Islam, is unconstrained.

Paul said...

Jesus said none would come after him..... thus Islam is a sham. Islam says Jesus, the Son of God, made a 'mistake'.

No... there was no mistake.

Saint Croix said...

Don't be a heel, Achilles!

Quayle said...

So OK that feels good to most Americans and it especially feels good to New York Times readers.

But if you want to understand Islam you have to look to Protestantism, because the structures are essentially similar. Both arise from a book and from those self-appointed or self-declared as called to speak for God and interpret the book. And this leads to a wide spectral spread of interpretations. And neither have a central authority, as there is with Catholicism or Mormonism, who can set orthodoxy or make official declaration of doctrine or interpretation.

Without getting into Christ's legal hierarchy or values, I do agree that Christ placed the person above the detailed law and subjugated the detailed laws as existing for the benefit of the person, and not as a stick by which to beat the person.

So on this I agree with the sentiment of the Imam, but I fear The NY Times editorial will be about as effective as a Universalist writing to a Pentecost or Calvinist.

Gahrie said...

Can we Muslims also reason, 'The Shariah is made for man, not man for the Shariah'

The difference is, Christians are the children of their God, and given free will. Muslims are the slaves of their God, and must obey.

mockturtle said...

And neither have a central authority

Christ is our central authority. If you want to pray to 'saints' and to the Virgin Mary, that's your business but I shall pray to Yahweh in Christ's name.

Left Bank of the Charles said...

Ann Coulter had this same idea.

Bay Area Guy said...

No sane person gives a flying fig about Muslim theology or theory, Jeez.

We just don't want the crazier elements of the religion to blow stuff up or behead people.

buwaya said...

"Absolute Trash. Intellectual garbage."

And so are all heretical doctrines, until the heretics acquire the power to sustain themselves against those outraged by them. Well armed heretics are suddenly much more intellectually respectable, that's the way the world works. Mormons are Christian heretics of an extreme, even absurd sort, but they own a fairly significant State.

Islam has all sorts of heresies, some extremely divergent from anything Islamic.
Baha'i for instance. The Ahmadis actually think along the lines of the article, the writer may be an Ahmadi, or a skip and a jump from being one.

The problem of Islam could be resolved through the popularity of some more acceptable heresy. That it may be intellectually inconsistent by Christian or Islamic standards is irrelevant.

traditionalguy said...

He is close to praying in Jesus name. That is known to have mighty effects in men who do it. And his fellow Muslims are totally committed to stopping that from happening. And sawing off the heads that happens in is their usual response.

buwaya said...

"No sane person gives a flying fig about Muslim theology or theory, Jeez. "

Why not? It is very useful to understand how to put yourself in another mind.
Even if they are your enemies.

Saint Croix said...

Islam is a sham.

There are many, many Christians who believe that if we pray, God will reveal things to us.

The book of Revelations, for instance, was written by a disciple of Christ. He believed that God revealed things to him.

Muhammad also believed that God revealed things to him.

I believe that Christ is the true authority, the only one you can follow without any fear.

So when I read Revelations, for instance, I take it with a grain of salt. John's ability to understand what is revealed to him is limited by his humanity. And also by Satan who has a great interest in lying to people and fooling people.

It's really interesting to compare the book of John to Revelations. The book of John is an eyewitness account to things that actually happened. Jesus said this. The crowd did this. This is what happened next. It's one of four books in the Bible about Jesus.

To me, it's like a trial, when you call witnesses. Your first witness is Matthew, your second witness is Mark, your third witness is Luke, and your fourth witness is John. That's enough witnesses, you don't need to call any more. And by listening to these four witnesses, we know pretty much what happened. Their accounts are all slightly different!

In Revelations, John is all "whore of babylon." And yet, in the book of John, he's the only witness to this beautiful story.

Anyway, I do think God reveals things to us. If we pay attention, and pray, we might get some spiritual knowledge. And if God reveals things to me, or you, he can also reveal things to that guy over there. I haven't read the Koran (I'm still learning the Bible!), but it's entirely possible (in fact, highly likely) there is some holy and spiritual guidance in there. Mohammad, after all, was familiar with Jesus!

I think we should be on guard with all human authority. But with Jesus, you can let your guard down and trust what he has to say.

William said...

He puts forward some attractive and useful thoughts. I don't see him leading a mass movement though, and there are some neighborhoods in the Islamic world he'd do best to avoid. When an article like this gets printed in Iran or Saudi Arabia, then I will believe that there is such a thing as moderate Islamic thought and that it is gaining traction.

Saint Croix said...

Note also that most of us are control freaks.

Muhammad, for instance, wrote it down. He wanted to control the message.

John wrote it down. He wanted to control the message.

Every artist, every author, wants to control the message. It was a major struggle for me as a filmmaker to collaborate with other artists.

We all want to be in charge. We all think we know what is best.

Jesus wasn't at all worried about controlling his message. He didn't write it down! Either people paid attention and remembered what happened, or they did not.

He relied on the holy spirit. To me that's a powerful message in and of itself, that Jesus did not sit down and write a holy book for people to follow. His message is one of love, not control.

buwaya said...

"When an article like this gets printed in Iran or Saudi Arabia"

Similar things are in print in Pakistan, from the Ahmadis, but they have a difficult time.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Persecution_of_Ahmadis

Michael K said...

It would be nice if this was true and accepted by Muslims but it won;t be.

Part of that is the resentment of Muslims when they recognize their backwardness.

This began with Napoleon in Egypt, The Mamluks thought they were victorious soldiers until the French came. It has been downhill since then.

mockturtle said...

I agree with your assertions, St. Croix, although regarding this one: It's one of four books in the Bible about Jesus. I would argue that every book in the Bible is about Christ. Some prospective, some contemporaneous and some retrospective.

Roughcoat said...
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Mark said...

"The Islamic Jesus: How the King of the Jews Became a Prophet of the Muslims"

Easy -- 50 percent Christian heresy by an ignorant Arab named Mohammed who was exposed to Jewish and Christian thought by passing traders, 40 percent theft from Mohammed in crafting his work of fiction called the Koran to justify his plunder, rape and rule, 10 percent gullibility from his followers.

Relax before you claim Islamophobia -- same could be said of Joseph Smith or David Koresh or any other cult leader.

Roughcoat said...

John the Apostle and John the author of Revelations were probably two different people. I know some have said that they are the same but the generally accepted view is that they were different.

I have visited the cave on Patmos of John of the Apocalypse. I sat on the stone bench that was cloven by the lightning bolt that caused him to have his vision, which he subsequently wrote up in Revelations.

David Begley said...

Below is from The Religion of Peace website,

"Over 800 surrendered men and boys (and at least one woman) from the Qurayza tribe were beheaded by the prophet of Islam in a bloodbath that is of acute embarrassment to today’s Muslim apologists. It is an episode that is not only completely at odds with the idea that Islam is a peaceful religion, but also the claim that it is the heir to Christianity, since even that religion’s most dedicated critics could hardly imagine Jesus and his disciples doing such a thing."

Mark said...

Islam says Jesus, the Son of God, made a 'mistake'

Islam says calling Jesus the Son of God is blasphemy for which you get your neck smited (head sawed off with a knife).

wildswan said...

"the stoning of innocent women by bigoted men"

I think the woman was guilty for Jesus says to her afterward "sin no more". The point being made was that the men were guilty of exactly the same sin. Why then was the woman the one being stoned? The author similarly misunderstands the differences between Islam and Christianity.

Islam strives to realize Muhammed's vision, not Jesus's. If Islam adopted Jesus' teaching that would be great but it would not be "reform Islam", it would be Christianity.

For example, it is my understanding that Muhammed definitely preached about a kingdom of this world. Further, Jesus said Render to Caesar that which is Caesar's and to God that which belongs to God as if there were two spheres, the religious and the political with differing obligations. But Muhammed taught that the the Caliph represented God so that what belonged to Caesar and what belonged to God were one and the same thing.

But probably the more real problem in Islam is the question of scientific knowledge vs. religious knowledge. It is a difficult issue and negotiating it would require many generations of believing mullahs with a good grasp of scientific theory pondering different issues. But Islamic education seems to be either the Koran or scientific knowledge. Then two are then uneasily stitched together by using science-in-the-form-of-technology to kill unbelievers. But that leaves faith a stone in the bottom of the well of science, just irrelevant, or it makes science an indigestible lump in the mind and heart of the believer. These two alternatives by predominating freeze up Islamic culture. It's like Nancy Pelosi trying to understand Steve Bannon - two Catholics but he understands her while she cannot understand him. Or Andrew Sullivan and Milo - Milo understands Andrew but Andrew cannot understand Milo. Because Pelosi and Sullivan have a fossilized Catholicism frozen to avoid disbelief or frozen where it was when disbelief arrived while Milo and Steve are still living toward the belief that there is a truth that matters.

YoungHegelian said...

Okay, guys, this isn't exactly new in Muslim thought.

After Mohamed, the prophet most revered in Islam is, yes, Jesus, except he's called Isa. In Muslim eschatology, it is Isa who returns & slays the False Messiah in the End of Days. Notice that Mohamed plays no part in the End of Days. He, too, "sleeps in the dust", like all the dead, until the Resurrection of the Body. He will be the first resurrected, but other than that he is but the first among the faithful. Not so Isa.

Quayle said...

"Christ is our central authority."

"Mormons are Christian heretics."

I've read the Buble a lot of times and I don't remember reading where Christ or anyone said Mormons were heretics.

Perhaps someone here could help explain or make the connection for me.

3rdGradePB_GoodPerson said...

"It would be nice if this was true and accepted by Muslims but it won;t be."

I'm w/ ya.

It seems like supplanting the worship/following of dude who we're not supposed to draw w/ a bomb on his head w/ Hey Zeus is asking a bit much from our Muslim brothers.

Couldn't the NYT find one non-terrorist Muslim that didn't need to rely on Christian beliefs to justify not being a backward idiot and/or terrorist?

If not, hopefully DJT figures out how to instigate a total Muslim ban, even from countries w/ Trump hotels/biz. ASAP.


OTOH, this dude is probably just trying to push book sales to the same folks that put Glenn and Bill at the top of the sales charts. Presumably there's no lucrative audience for the reasonable Islamic person's POV, sans Christianity ass suckling.


Carry on.

Mark said...

Jesus, except he's called Isa.

And except he didn't die on the Cross (it was faked), and he didn't rise from the dead, and he isn't the Son of God, and he is not God himself, and he is not one person in the Trinity, and there is no Trinity, and he was born to Moses' sister Miriam, and basically the "people of the book" got everything wrong about him and so it is right to subjugate them and make them pay a protection money tax and if they do not, then they get what's coming to them with the smiting and the raping and the burning and the blowing up from Mecca to Morocco to Madrid to Paris to Rome and beyond.

Roughcoat said...

I won't believe Islam is capable of reform until Saudi Arabia allows Christians and Jews to worship openly and build churches and synagogues on Saudi soil (or sand, as it were).

I don't believe Islam is capable of reform. If it reforms, it won't be Islam.

3rdGradePB_GoodPerson said...

"Perhaps someone here could help explain or make the connection for me."

I think it's all that BS that homeboy made up as a supplement to The Word.

Mark said...

Heresy -- noun, espoused or held belief or idea that is asserted as true but is at variance with orthodox or accepted doctrine, especially of a church or religious system.

Saint Croix said...

I would argue that every book in the Bible is about Christ.

I think that's the orthodox view, that every book in the Bible is sacred and holy, and we should treat them all the same.

I am always happier when I am in the gospels. I want to know what Jesus has to say. He is the true authority.

I'm not a big fan of what Elijah does here or Moses does here.

I disagree that these men know God the same way Jesus does, or that we should follow their examples.

Mark said...

The Church dealt with a great many heresies, false beliefs, in the early centuries. They are what prompted the various councils, which defined Christian doctrine and also determined the canon of the Bible (yes, sola scriptura is itself false since it was precisely the Church (under the guidance of the Holy Spirit) that decided what writings were legitimate scripture to be included in the Bible and which were not). From the councils, we got the main creeds.

One such heresy is that Jesus is merely a human being. Another is that Jesus is only divine. Another is that the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit are three different gods, and not One God.

No one is singling out Islam or the Latter Day Saints for special heretical treatment. They've got lots of company.

Unknown said...

A true Christian shouldn't have any problem with the idea of Jesus and His followers beheading a bunch of people.... if said people deserved it, of course. After all, Jesus is Jehovah, and Jehovah was known to apply some serious force sometimes. Nor is the idea of Jesus and the Kingdom of God being a literal, political entity absurd either: for that is what Moses set up and the Israelites had until they went for a human king. And we are told that Jesus will reign again as King. One wonders exactly how much will change when Jesus is President, Congress, and the Supreme Court all rolled into one. I suspect His ideas of what the proper law is will differ from ours in many, many ways.

Jesus is a God of mercy, yes. But to focus only on His mission of love and mercy is to ignore the fact that He is also a God of justice, and He is duty bound to execute judgment and provide justice for all. Something Nancy Pelosi should remember, I would think.

Islam is a hard case. It has a lot of good ideas, as any massively successful train of thought has. But it's also evil, and its core teaching is a twisted version of God's real law.

Islam is Submission to God, or Allah. That's really a version of "Thou shalt have no other Gods before me." And both Judaism and Christianity teach that we must submit our will to God, and become an instrument of Him. That sounds a lot like Islam in some ways.

The difference is the goal of Islam versus Judaism/Christianity. It's the nature of the God involved. Allah created humans for his purposes; and we only exist to make Allah happy. He doesn't care about individuals (Stop and think, if Allah is the Creator, yet the Koran calls Jews subhuman and all other than Muslims should be killed/converted.... didn't Allah create people to be tortured or killed? Why?). The Christian God, however, sent His Son, Jesus, to save and exalt mankind; to make us as Paul says, heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ. Jesus and God want to raise us up to be like Them. Allah wants us to dance for his amusement. Early Judaism was similar to Christianity, in that the Mosaic law tried to purify and make you more like God (it went off the rails around the time of the Babylonian captivity).

Fundamentally, God/Jesus and Allah all want us to be like them. Difference is, God and Jesus want us to choose to do Their wills; and Allah wants to force us to do what he wants.

--Vance

Paddy O said...
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Saint Croix said...

Of course if the Jews had not followed Moses, we would all be lost!

Mark said...

every book in the Bible is about Christ

Jesus, together with God the Father and the Holy Spirit are all spoken of in the very first sentence of the Bible --

"In the beginning, when God (Father) created the heavens and the earth . . . and a mighty wind (Holy Spirit) swept over the waters . . . Then God said (Jesus, the Word) . . ." (Genesis 1:1-3).

In fact, "Through all the words of Sacred Scripture, God speaks only one single Word, his one Utterance in whom he expresses himself completely" (CCC 102).

exiledonmainstreet said...

"I don't believe Islam is capable of reform. If it reforms, it won't be Islam."

Actually, I think it is reforming. From the Protestant POV, the Christian Reformation was about purifying the faith and returning to the practices of the Early Church. Islam was violent from the beginning and spread via the sword. The jihadists are returning Islam to its' roots. It is the moderate, more tolerant version of Islam that is the aberration. It is no accident that the more secular Muslims of an earlier day were also under the influence of Western imperialism. As the West's power has declined, the attraction of a moderate version of Islam that can coexist with secularism and other faiths has also diminished among Muslims. The young Muslims of Cairo and Paris and London are far more fundamentalist and zealous in their beliefs than their grandfathers were in the 1950's.

Saint Croix said...

A true Christian shouldn't have any problem with the idea of Jesus...beheading a bunch of people.

It's idiotic.

Mark said...

A true Christian shouldn't have any problem with the idea of . . .

Speaking of persons spoken of in the early pages of scripture.

You are not "Unknown." You have been known throughout history, beginning when you spouted the first lies in the Garden. Slither away now.

Saint Croix said...

And Satanic.

Unknown said...

Saint Croix: You reject, then, the rule of law. God is a God of laws. For there to be a law, there must be a punishment for breaking it, else it is only a mere suggestion.

Some laws are physical: try breaking the law of gravity. It cannot be done, only overridden by other laws such as Bernoulli's. Laws governing conduct are the same: there is always a consequence for our actions.

Indeed, that's the entire point of Jesus: He came to take the punishment for violations of the law. But His mercy is not automatically given. And thus, those without His mercy are exposed to the full consequences of the law.

And death is indeed a penalty. Jesus gives a death penalty, you may recall: "Those who would harm these little ones, it were better that a millstone be hung around his neck and he were drowned; or that he were never born." That's..... not merciful. It is judgment. He was no wilting wallflower. And He said the time would come when we would beat our plowshares into swords. Mercy and love only go so far. Sometimes justice demands a terrible swift sword. And Christ Himself promised He would come in fire to destroy the wicked. He cannot tolerate sin nor forebear dispensing justice forever.

--Vance

n.n said...

He speaks of principled alignment, suggesting character harmony, but is it authentic. Because of Islam's Pro-Choice doctrine, people will have their doubts.

That said, Jesus did go far to reconcile moral, natural, and personal imperatives. Perhaps even an optimal reconciliation, which Muslims, seculars, and others should consider on principle, irrespective of any sincerely held conflict with the author.

This is, of course, a trap. A well laid trap by the NYT for anyone who opposes waging social justice forcing refugee crises, mass emigration, and insourcing, and, especially [class] diversity.

exiledonmainstreet said...

Vance, it's my belief that Islam is basically a political system disguised as a religion. (Yes, early Judaism was also a political system, but the destruction of the Temple and the subsequent diaspora of the Jews and development of Talmudic Judaism uncoupled the religion from state power.) Unlike Christ, Mohammad led an army. Although church and state were sometimes very closely allied in Christendom (and sometimes at loggerheads), they were always recognized as separate entities. "Render unto Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and render unto God...."

There is no such separation in Islam, which is why it would be very difficult for a devout Muslim to argue against the imposition of sharia law. When the Church came to have a lot of worldly power, it became corrupt. Holding worldly power is vital to Islam, which is why the concept of martyrdom is so vastly different to Muslims than it is to Christians. Christ told His followers the world would hate them. Mohammed told his followers they had a right and obligation to conquer.





Steven said...

Allah, as I understand Islam, is unconstrained.

At least if you accept the interpretation of Al-Ghazali, the philosopher and theologian known as the Proof of Islam.

But this isn't an issue intrinsic to the underlying religion. The major difference between the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church, beyond the dispute over the authority of the Pope relative to other bishops, is that the former embraced and embraces Aristotle and the utility of reason while the latter rejected and rejects "pagan philosophy". Thus the lands of the former birthed Scholasticism and the Renaissance and the Reformation and the Enlightenment and the Scientific Revolution and the Industrial Revolution, while the lands of the latter did nothing of intellectual consequence and are still relatively backward to this day.

Ian F. Shield said...

How beautiful! Muslims, Christians and the Secular Left can find common ground - in disdaining lowly, legalistic, traditionally observant Jews (not the cool, progressive kind of Jew who worships Obama and the Palestinians). That's the worst thing about the Islamists - they're so much like observant Jews!

The writer, as far as I'm concerned, can go take a long walk off a short pier.

exhelodrvr1 said...

If Islam is going to be able to coexist with the rest of the world on a large scale (coexisting not meaning forcible subjugation) then this is the absolute minimum approach that needs to be taken. But it would be totally shocking if it is, because it is 180 degrees out of synch with Islam as is.

rhhardin said...

That's all very nice but it's apostasy. You get killed.

Islam is a crime organization.

Saint Croix said...

Saint Croix: You reject, then, the rule of law. God is a God of laws. For there to be a law, there must be a punishment for breaking it, else it is only a mere suggestion.

There are only two laws.

Love God.

Love your neighbor as yourself.

All of us break these rules, all the time. We all fall short.

We fail to love our enemies.

We fail to give all our money to the poor.

We only get to heaven through God's grace.

Nobody kills their way into heaven.

YoungHegelian said...

@exile,

Holding worldly power is vital to Islam, which is why the concept of martyrdom is so vastly different to Muslims than it is to Christians.

The concepts of martyrdom are so different because in Christianity one isn't supposed to get oneself "martyred". If it's unavoidable or if one cannot avoid it except through a greater evil (apostasy), then it is meritorious. But you can't go around "suiciding yourself for Jesus".

Islam isn't quite so clear on that point, & gives the martyr an amazing array of spiritual advantages:

1) The martyr does not "sleep in the dust" until the Resurrection of the Body before the Last Judgement. He goes directly & immediately into Heaven. Not so the martyr. He "has a seat in Heaven", and at the moment of his death, is immediately taken up to Heaven.

2) The martyr can, on the Day of Judgement, intercede with Allah for the fate of 70 of his kinfolk. This, in a faith that has almost no intercessionary theology at all, is amazing. It's also why Muslim families send a son out as a "designated martyr", so that he can help get the rest of them into Heaven.

Here's the Hadith I'm referencing:

That the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: "There are six things with Allah for the martyr. He is forgiven with the first flow of blood (he suffers), he is shown his place in Paradise, he is protected from punishment in the grave, secured from the greatest terror, the crown of dignity is placed upon his head - and its gems are better than the world and what is in it - he is married to seventy two wives along Al-Huril-'Ayn of Paradise, and he may intercede for seventy of his close relatives."

[Abu 'Eisa said:] This Hadith is Hasan Sahih.

Unknown said...

Exiledonmainstreet: Well, you are correct of course. Islam is a political system mixed with economics and theological trappings. Japan prior to the end of WWII was one as well. Early Judaism and of course early human history in general was the same: it is only very recently that religion and state became separate.

If you believe the Bible, it's clear that this is a temporary state of affairs. At some point, Jesus will reign in both the religious and also the political sense. He will be King. This is the ideal.

If you think about it, it makes sense. Why shouldn't state and church be aligned? After all, governing people must rely on common ideals and morals: You can't have a civilization where some people think it's ok to kill people to placate the rain god, and some people are violently opposed to pagan sacrifice. That's a clash you cannot resolve easily. Religion and culture provide the common ideals and morals and the "why should I obey these restrictions." The government or arm of the state was historically meant to.... help people believe (said euphemistically).

Of course, that's ripe for abuse, and it has been. Which is why our current separation of church and state has worked well, because we've still had a common Judeo-Christian ethos to provide common ideals and laws. But that's breaking down now.

Militant faith's like Islam have a bit of an advantage, as they wrap humanity up into at least a whole (I don't think it's very convincing, but it's an effort). Christianity needs to promote its rules, not just "do what you want and Jesus forgives." That's not a societal structure that can last.

--Vance

traditionalguy said...

Interestingly, Nicean Christianity is the power that Mohammed set out to destroy. It is basic Byzantine Civilization summed up by the Apostles Creed, every link of which recites beliefs that are totally important. Breaking any one link terminates the Religion of the Nicean Creed's Trinitarian God.

This oh so moderate Muslim breaks it in several places. Proclaiming Jesus Christ to be Allah's only begotten SON, is Enemy #1 of every Mohammedan, whether they be Jihadi or peacefully Liberal and Moderate.

Lewis Wetzel said...

Blogger exiledonmainstreet said...

Actually, I think it is reforming. From the Protestant POV, the Christian Reformation was about purifying the faith and returning to the practices of the Early Church.

Some reformed Christian churches followed this path, others did not.
Henry VIII wanted a doctrinally Catholic church with himself as its head. The Reformation, in the 16th century, was about denying the authority of the pope, first and foremost.

YoungHegelian said...

@steven,

The major difference between the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church, beyond the dispute over the authority of the Pope relative to other bishops, is that the former embraced and embraces Aristotle and the utility of reason while the latter rejected and rejects "pagan philosophy".

The Eastern Orthodox do not reject the "utility of reason" & "pagan philosophy". Where do you get this stuff? St. Thomas Aquinas is saint for the Eastern Churches, too.

Last time I looked, Platonism in all its forms (classical, middle, & neo-) was also a pagan philosophy. The Church Fathers & even later guys like St Simeon the New Theologian are unimaginable without their Platonic foundations. All of these guys form the shared foundation of Latin & Eastern Orthodox Catholicism.

Also, even within the Roman Church, Franciscan Nominalism subjected Scholasticism to withering critique. While the post-Medieval Church much preferred the Scholastic tradition, Nominalism lived on among the Franciscans & other orders. It has never been declared anathema & thus lies within the ambit for believing Catholics.

Mark said...

Allah, as I understand Islam, is unconstrained.

Allah is so all-powerful that he can even contradict himself. That tended to be the justification when Mohammed said one day that Allah said X, and then the next day said that Allah said not-X, and people called him out on it.

That was awfully convenient for Mohammed, like when he said that, no he would never ever want to have sex with an underage girl, but Allah said it was OK and insisted that he do so. And who is he to go against Allah?

Unknown said...

Saint Croix: Yes, you are right in a sense. Those are the commandments for us as individuals.

How do those apply to a society? For Christians, and in 100% Christian communities, those commandments are all that are needed. But what do you do with those who break those commandments?

That's the thing: Jesus talked a lot about our personal duties and responsibilities. He didn't say much about what society should do as a pluralistic place, with Jews and Christians and Hindus and people who pray to Jupiter all around.

Take the worshippers of Bacchus and Aphrodite: what is the Christian society to do with them? Leave them alone to corrupt people? Let them kill themselves through riotous living? Impose the Law of Moses on them? There has to be a standard, applied equally to all people, or the society fails. Either adultery is punished or it is not. Stealing? Lying? Murder? If no law is applied, then very quickly Christians will be extinct.

--Vance

Mark said...

Yeah, you can lump Henry Rex in with Mohammed, Smith and Koresh.

gspencer said...

"Killing innocent people for the sake of our Allah, as written in our holy books,"

GOOD.

"Non-Muslim people reporting to the world at large that we have killed innocent people for the sake of our Allah, as written in our holy books,"

BAD, As in Really, Really BAD.

Daniel Jackson said...

What a fascinating conversation these comments are. Varied, intricate, interesting and rather rigid, sometimes dogmatic. Often, they are beside the point; the challenge is not the "market for religion" but confronting an alternative view of the Rabbi from Galilee--through the eyes of Islam. It is a metaphysical, not sociological, discourse.

traditionalguy said...

The Reformation was about translating Scriptures distributed and then being taught by brilliant teachers such as the German Monk Luther and the French Lawyer Calvin.

The 5 soleas are the heart:Sola fides, sola gratia, sola scriptura and sola Christo, and sola Deo gloria.

They taught Paul's Theology. And then they sailed to Cape Cod on the Mayflower in late November 1620 and lived to tell the tale.

The Cracker Emcee said...

"Blogger Daniel Jackson said...
What a fascinating conversation these comments are. Varied, intricate, interesting and rather rigid, sometimes dogmatic. Often, they are beside the point; the challenge is not the "market for religion" but confronting an alternative view of the Rabbi from Galilee--through the eyes of Islam. It is a metaphysical, not sociological, discourse."

Ah, so it's jerking off, as opposed to fucking?

mockturtle said...

Vance says: Take the worshippers of Bacchus and Aphrodite: what is the Christian society to do with them? Leave them alone to corrupt people? Let them kill themselves through riotous living? Impose the Law of Moses on them? There has to be a standard, applied equally to all people, or the society fails. Either adultery is punished or it is not. Stealing? Lying? Murder? If no law is applied, then very quickly Christians will be extinct.

O ye of little faith! Jesus said regarding the tares [weeds], Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn. Matthew 13:30

Sebastian said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sebastian said...

A small step in the right direction. But Jesus is the son of God who is love. As religions go, Christianity is the ultimate Feuerbachian triumph (take it away, YoungHegelian). Nothing like it in Islam.

"Can we Muslims also reason, 'The Shariah is made for man, not man for the Shariah'?" No. (Of course, Muslim jurists have fudged in practice.) Ratzinger was right in Regensburg.

Nor is the Koran a text like the Bible.

traditionalguy said...

Read the Creed. The important part of Jesus is not his neat teachings. It is his incarnation.

The death burial and resurrection of a neat teacher 2000 years ago is mildly interesting, maybe. But the sacrifice and resurrection of the Creator God Incarnate, for your Sin, has blown away the Universe, Eternally.

Saint Croix said...

John the Apostle and John the author of Revelations were probably two different people.

In my church, the Episcopal church, the one true church (joke!), we all seem pretty sure that John the Apostle is the same John who wrote the book of Revelations.

Original Mike said...

Blogger Bay Area Guy said..."No sane person gives a flying fig about Muslim theology or theory, Jeez.
We just don't want the crazier elements of the religion to blow stuff up or behead people."

Blogger buwaya replied..."Why not? It is very useful to understand how to put yourself in another mind.
Even if they are your enemies."


I'm with Bay Area Guy. Can't I just eat my waffle?

Steven said...

@YoungHegelian

You made a perfectly orthodox statement of the Western Church's view of the role of philosophy among the Church Fathers. The issue, and the reason it's a problem to unity, is that the Churches of the East disagree with it.

Where do I get this stuff? It's all over the place in modern Orthodox writings, which you are presumably unfamiliar with. Let's start with the webpage of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, which says:

-----
Philosophy plays only a linguistic role in Orthodoxy, lending the use of its terminology after the terms have been transformed and purified of their secular meanings, "Christianized" philosophy and culture, as Father Georges Florovsky used to say. A master of spirituality, a monk of Mount Athos, describes this point in the following manner: "Many of the Greeks tried to philosophize, but only the monks found and learned the true philosophy." The Logos became flesh and revealed to humanity the divine revelation. He is the Truth and through him we can attain knowledge of the divine will. The metaphysical patterns of the philosophic speculation of the Christian revelation distort the divine mission of the incarnate Logos.
-----

Now, one can argue that modern Orthodoxy overemphasizes its rejection of philosophy compared to historical practice in the Eastern Churches. But the division on philosophy does exist, to the point that notable Orthodox writers (for example, Christos Yannaras) go so far as to say Augustine as "the fount of every distortion and alteration in the Church's truth in the West".

Jupiter said...

Mark said...

"Easy -- 50 percent Christian heresy by an ignorant Arab named Mohammed who was exposed to Jewish and Christian thought by passing traders, 40 percent theft from Mohammed in crafting his work of fiction called the Koran to justify his plunder, rape and rule, 10 percent gullibility from his followers."

Well, except that it seems fairly likely that Mohammed never existed. The Arabs who supposedly fought for him were mostly illiterate, but the societies they destroyed were not. And while they wrote plenty about the God-damned Arabs, no one said anything about "Mohammed" until well after his supposed death.

See "Did Muhammad Exist", by Robert Spencer. You can get it through Althouse Amazon Portal, and help Jeff Bezos destroy Western Civilization.

The Toothless Revolutionary said...

Interesting.

What's also interesting is the way judicial literalists like the Scaliaists similarly eschew humanism in favor of legalism/literalism.

Jack Wayne said...

Exile, you almost got there. Its true that Islam has been in Reformation for about 100 years. It's also true that reformation means a return to roots, in this case, a return to the old time religion. The part you missed is that the Protestants and Catholics fought for over 400 years before the last spark (the Irish) finally faded. Inasmuch as reformation does not always lead to liberal reform (freedom of religion), it's 50-50 what the end result of the Islamic Reformation will lead to. My bet is that we will see an active move on the part of Muslims to put the infidels to the sword. But it may break the other way and the peaceful Muslims will prevail and allow freedom of religion. We won't know until we know in several hundred years. In the meantime, the infidels will be collateral damage in the Islamic Reformation. Currently, most Muslims are like Chicago in the 1920's where most Chicagoans were peaceful but that meant they weren't about to stand up to the gangsters. It took the government stepping in to pacify Chicago. If the past is prologue, then who will pacify the Islamic gangsters? It won't work if infidels do it. Who in the Islamic world will be the Untouchables? I don't see anyone now or in the future.

harryo said...

When Eliot Ness took on Prohibition, no one knew that he would die a drunkard at age 54.

When you pick a cause, pick one you can win. Otherwise take the wife and kids to the park and let the dogs run.

Cog said...

False prophet Muhammed distorted the ideas of Christianity and manipulated those ideas into his own twisted political/religious ideology. Attempts to reform the Christian heresy of Islam to be more Christian-like will always be met with failure. Islam is fundamentally designed to be an unChristian belief system.

3rdGradePB_GoodPerson said...

"Who in the Islamic world will be the Untouchables?"

For now, I'd be happy to aim for a lower goal. Could our "allies" stop spreading Wahhabism?

Darrell said...

The Qur'an calls Jesus a prophet--but one who betrayed his sacred duty to relate the Word of Allah to men and went off the reservation and called himself "God (and mentioned the Holy Spirit)." . He is NOT a respected figure in Islam, no matter what lying Muslims say. Think a cross between Judas and Benedict Arnold. A couple of the early mentions of Jesus in the Qur'an are positive or neutral, but the Qur'an is the most self-contradictory books ever written. I think that was intentional. Cover for any position you want to take. [Btw, I've read the top four English translations of the Qur'an since 2001, those recommended by Muslims as being the truest to the spirit of the Arabic version.]

Sebastian said...

"But the division on philosophy does exist, to the point that notable Orthodox writers (for example, Christos Yannaras) go so far as to say Augustine as "the fount of every distortion and alteration in the Church's truth in the West"" If you ask me, not that you would, the trouble started with so-called St. Paul.

3rdGradePB_GoodPerson said...

And, FTR, while it's fun to join in as y'all get all hot and bothered, it's probably worth remembering that the vast majority of Muslims are just going about their beeswax w/o messing w/ us.

We'd have an exponentially bigger problem if the jabber about us v the religion of Islam ever became an actual reality. So, being less hyped in our jabber, and therefore taking a cathartic hit, is probably the smart move. IOW, don't expect that for at least four years.


Carry on.

Fernandinande said...

buwaya said...
Bay Area Guy "No sane person gives a flying fig about Muslim theology or theory, Jeez. "
Why not? It is very useful to understand how to put yourself in another mind.


Primitive superstitions are not very interesting, nor are the minds which take them seriously.

Even if they are your enemies.

The only thing that matters in that case is behavior, which doesn't correlate much with stated philosophies.

3rdGradePB_GoodPerson said...

If DJT really wants to show us he's using his deal making jujitsu as POTUS, why doesn't he F w/ the Saudis instead of having weird handshakes in photo-ops?

JK.

Y'all are funny.


Carry on.

Jack Wayne said...

PB, Wahabbism was the start of the reformation. No one is gonna stop spreading it around.

Mark said...

About the Orthodox, they have been under close proximity and threat of Islamic conquest for 1000 years. The Western Church, however, has pretty much been able to keep them at arm's length other than a few attempts at invasion. While it should not matter to the theology, it is possible that geo-political factors have colored the way the two lungs of the Church have viewed things, or at least they way they are expressed.

StephenFearby said...

Juxtaposition:

GoodNewsNetwork

6 Quran Quotes That Teach Love, Tolerance and Freedom of Religion

"Islam according to the Quran teaches love and compassion for every human being, no matter their religion, says author Adnan Oktar whose television show is watched by millions in Turkey and the Arab world..."

http://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/6-quran-quotes-teach-love-tolerance-freedom-religion/

DailyCaller

Islamic Georgetown Prof Offers Tortured Defense Of Slavery And Non-Consensual Sex Under Islam [VIDEO]

"A Georgetown University Islamic studies professor has come under fire for a talk he gave earlier this week in which he offered an Islam-based defense of slavery, concubinage and non-consensual sex.

Jonathan AC Brown, who serves as director of the Alwaleed bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown, gave his admittedly controversial speech on Tuesday at the International Institute of Islamic Thought, a Virginia-based group that has foundational ties to the Muslim Brotherhood."

'...In the speech, and a subsequent question-and-answer session, Brown, a white convert to Islam, essentially downplayed the harshness of slavery in Islam. He also stated that American and Western society is “obsessed with the idea of autonomy and consent.”

And at one point in the talk, Brown appeared to suggest that modern Muslims have little room to question the morality of slavery since Muhammad was a slave owner.'

'Brown’s thesis on a moral relativism for slavery pales in comparison to his apparent defense of concubinage, which is condoned in the Quran.

He conjured up a scenario in which a woman taken captive during a raid and sold as a slave to a wealthy man is just as free in an existential sense as a woman who was born into and married into poverty. He said:

What’s the difference between someone who is captured in a raid in the steppes of Central Asia brought to Istanbul’s slave market, sold to an owner, who, by the way, might treat her badly, might treat her incredibly well. She’s going to bear him children. She’s going to be a free woman. She’s going to be the mother of his children. If he’s high status, she’s going to be high status. If he dies she might be a very desirable wife. That person’s situation? What’s the difference between that and some woman who’s a poor baker’s daughter who gets married to some baker’s son without any choice because no one expects her to have any choice? And that baker’s son might treat her well. He might treat her horribly.

“The difference between these two people is not that big. We see it as enormous because we’re obsessed with the idea of autonomy and consent, would be my first response,” Brown added.'

What a guy!

http:Wh//dailycaller.com/2017/02/11/islamic-georgetown-prof-offers-tortured-defense-of-slavery-and-non-consensual-sex-under-islam-video/#ixzz4YdAw82ju

In other news Lieutenant General Dirtbag resigned tonight! We hardly knew ye (as National Security Advisor). But your long track record of acting like a really big stupid presaged your early fall.


harryo said...
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Mike said...

I pray this is the beginning of a new Reformation, one that would benefit us all. But it is more likely to be the start of a long evade and escape undertaking by Mr. Akyol as his coreligionists reflexively respond to his suggestion.

Bruce Hayden said...

Christ is our central authority. If you want to pray to 'saints' and to the Virgin Mary, that's your business but I shall pray to Yahweh in Christ's name.

To be a bit flippant, but most Protestants, along with Muslims and Jews, consider praying to saints or the Virgin Mary, or even for their intervention, to be polytheism, and forbidden by the Ten Commandments.

But, my bigger point is that that misunderstands, I think, Quale's point, that much of Protestantism, along with Islam, and I think, Judaism today, are decentralized, as far as the definition of their faith. This is contrasted to Roman Catholicism, much of Christian Orthodoxy, and Mormonism, which are all much more top-down, and centralized. Throughout our early history in this country, esp. in New England, every town would have their own church, call their own ministers, and possibly have a slightly different view of their faith (though they tended to be fairly Calvinistic in their theology). Contrast this with Roman Catholicism, where one man (or, at best, a very small number of men) essentially makes this determination for a billion or so adherents.

The relevance here is that the problem of making changes is different as a result. In these Protestant churches (not all, but most), much of Islam, etc., it is a much more democratic process - realistically, it means that you convince influential clergy, who influence the rest of the clergy, who convince the laity. Whereas in a top down system, the person at the top (e.g. Catholic Pope, Mormon Prophet, etc.) makes the determination, and if you disagree, you can leave the church (e.g. the FLDS members still practicing polygamy).

The hope has/had been that Islam would follow the route of Christianity into the 21st Century, with the Reformation forcing the cleaning up of the corruption that had arisen through 15 or so centuries of church power. But, the basic problem is that the Christian Reformation was all about getting back to basics. Reading the Scriptures, and discovering that this, this, and this of Roman Catholic theology and practice were just added in over the centuries, often (IMHO, as a Protestant) without Biblical support (or, in direct contradiction to it, such as the above noted praying to saints, idolatry, etc). The problem is that Islam, at its roots, is not the Religion of Peace that its admirers claim, but, rather, a religion of war, conquest, and submission of all in the name of their Prophet. In short, (using a patent term), it teaches away from the sort of multicultural ecumenicalism that we, in the west, want to see. That it needs to cohabit peacefully with the rest of the world. So, getting back to its roots, really means reawakening the Jihad of converting the world to Islam that gave us 9/11/01.

That all said, I wonder how far below the surface this drive to conquer the world in the name of Allah ever was. Up until the Turks were stopped at the Gates of Vienna, 3/4 of a century after the founding of Jamestown, in VA, they had been on a drive for conquest for better than 9 centuries. We are talking maybe 400 years of quasi-submission on their part, to the technological and military might of Europe (and, later, the US), with periodic flareups that were brutally suppressed. In other words, they strove to conquer the rest of the world to convert it, by the sword, to Islam, as long as they could. When they couldn't, because they were so outclassed militarily and technologically, they didn't, but the faith of the most faithful kept the dream alive, and when they could again harm us, they did so. And, now, many Muslims see the west as weak, at least morally, and have discovered a potential path to conquest - through immigration and refusal to assimilate, instead, forcing Christian majorities in much of Europe today to submit, or at least to allow them cultural control, no matter how anathema it is to western values.

Bruce Hayden said...

Sometimes I wonder if the solution to Islamic militantism is the credible threat of use of overwhelming force. Which means, maybe that the solution might be to get the US, Russia, and maybe China together, to promise that if Muslim terrorists didn't stop their Jihad, that they would draw straws, and the winner would get to drop one of their thousands of thermonuclear warheads on the Kaaba, in Mecca, turning their most sacred shrine into glass, and letting Muslims, forever afterwards, pray to the place where they were most thoroughly humiliated. Maybe they should promise to smear the warhead with pig's blood first, just to rub in the insult. Both the Russians and the Chinese are vicious enough in their suppression of Muslim terrorism that the threat would probably be credible (and even if we wouldn't - they wouldn't know which country would get the short straw, or, in this case, the empty cylinder). Then, the more modern, westernized, Muslims could take charge of their more backward, militant, Islamic brothers, to make sure that this didn't happen.

Gospace said...

Remember to make a follow up post when the fatwa against him is issued.

Mark said...

most Protestants, along with Muslims and Jews, consider praying to saints or the Virgin Mary, or even for their intervention, to be polytheism, and forbidden by the Ten Commandments

And no matter how many millions of times Catholics tell them that it is not theism, that no one would ever think of calling Mary divine or a god, for some reason, Protestants who apparently have this obsessive and utter distain for Jesus' mother, keep obstinately making this specious claim.

One seeks the intercession of the faithful in heaven, such as Mary, not because they are gods, but for the same reason that they might ask a friend here on earth to pray for them. After all, we are all One Church, whether now in heaven or now on earth. And it is right that the whole Church pray as one in the communion of saints, which we have professed in the Creed for about 16-17 centuries.

I know I am saying this in vain, given the rest of your parade of ignorance of the Catholic Church, but everyone else should know not to listen to BH (or any other echo chamber Protestant) about Catholicism or about "getting back to basics."

Gospace said...

harryo said...
All you have to know about Islam, is that it is a cult, designed by crazy murderous tribes.

All you have to know about Christianity, is that it is a cult, designed by crazy murderous tribes.

The way forward is to make electricity out of these murderers.

Save your child. Teach them science.


And then they can be fulfilled and live life in a paradise on Earth, like the Soviet Union after the Glorious Revolution or China after Mao took full power, or Cambodia after the Khmer Rouge established their regime, or Cuba from 1960 to today. The atheists who have established nations have shown us the way to peace and understanding. And science. Why Lysenko's science has been ignored by the West is an unknowable mystery.

Mark said...

I regret having to be so harsh, but it really is tiresome hearing people spout nonsense about the Catholic Church, which after all, not only has an unbroken line of continuity going back 2000 years to the first Apostles and Jesus himself, but if anyone wants to know true Catholic doctrine, it is no secret. There are even handy summaries of it in the Catechism, and much much more, all of which are available online.

Saint Croix said...

What's also interesting is the way judicial literalists like the Scaliaists similarly eschew humanism in favor of legalism/literalism.

What's also interesting is that so-called "judges" who say with a straight face they do not know what a person is are said by their followers to be "humanists."

Give me Black or Scalia any day!

And I disagree wholeheartedly with the idea that our laws must be rejected and replaced with whatever the alleged humanists think are superior laws. If you are a liar who rejects obvious meanings (e.g. the word "person" has a specific meaning--live human being!), then you get into a situation where corporations are honorary persons and babies are sub-human property.

Bruce Hayden said...

@Mark - I said that not to denigrate your faith, but to maybe make a point. I appologize if I insulted your faith. I look at Roman Catholicism through a Protestant lens, and you, no doubt, look at Protestants through a Catholic lens. I am the product of > 400 years of Protestant propaganda, from at least the time of Elizibeth (Haydens were apparently intermarried with the Bolyns, which may be why an ancestor was able to build the last legal private fortification in England during her reign). Followed by early immigration into New England by both sides of the family (my mother's family were the Puritans - which is probably where my dogmatic Protestantism comes from).

I was struck tonight watching "Kevin Can Wait" with my partner how we differ in fundamental ways. As she said "you had to be raised Catholic" to get all of the humor tonight. I wasn't, and she was. A lot of similarities, but some differences. I find it heartening that we can now, after 400 years of strife (usually) live peaceably together, even in the same bed.

Bruce Hayden said...

Let me clarify on my history - I claimed that Islam was brutally suppressed from sometime after the loss by the Turks at the Gates of Vienna, until 9/11/01. I was thinking mostly of the British, esp in India and surrounding areas. But that ignored the elephant in the room - the Turks. For them, it was a gradual retreat over the next two centuries and a bit, culminating in their final defeat a century ago, in WW I. And during that time, and esp during the 19th Century, they lost most of what they had so laboriously conquered in Europe over a number of centuries. The Russians managed to fight them seven times, and, I think, fought with them once. And, one of those wars found the Brits and the French fighting on their side against the Russians in the Crimea. Still, by the start of WW I, they had lost most of their empire. Which is to say that the reality was that it took centuries to reclaim the bulk of Europe that they had taken, and the caliphate was only really defeated a century ago. Meanwhile, during those two centuries, Persia, to the east continues to grow and expand.

harryo said...
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harryo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
harryo said...

Mark said...has an unbroken line of continuity going back 2000 years

I'm of the opinion that Christianity before the 6th Century was the last purity of the religion. Towards the end of the Dark Ages, the power of the Catholic Church was completely different. This was a murderous religion that killed you if you didn't want to play the game right.

If you find out the Earth revolves around the Sun, and talk about it, you are dead!

Lewis Wetzel said...

If you find out the Earth revolves around the Sun, and talk about it, you are dead!
And yet Copernicus was a priest who published a book saying that the Earth went around the sun.

urbane legend said...

Saint Croix said...
We fail to give all our money to the poor.


Why should we? Jesus told one man to do this, in Mark 10. It was a test of his faith, after the man came to Him and said he would follow Him anywhere. Sell all you have and give to the poor is not a general commandment. How do we provide for those of our own household, per
1 Timothy 5:8, if we sell all we have and give the money to the poor, who will probably waste it in riotous living anyway? Jesus didn't tell Zacchaeus to sell all he had and give the money to the poor. Joseph of Arimathea never sold all he had. Nothing in the Word suggests their place in Heaven is not assured.

exiledonmainstreet said...

"And no matter how many millions of times Catholics tell them that it is not theism, that no one would ever think of calling Mary divine or a god, for some reason, Protestants who apparently have this obsessive and utter distain for Jesus' mother, keep obstinately making this specious claim."

Exactly so. It is counterproductive at this point for Protestants and Catholics to feud. I don't expect Protestants to adopt Catholic views regarding Mary and the saints, but I do wish they'd stop repeating false claims. It's wrong and stupid to keep refighting the Reformation, when Christianity is facing serious challenges from both Islam and the aggressively secular left. (Not that the present fool in the Vatican is helping much on that score, and yes, it's possible to be a practicing Catholic without having much regard for Francis. I much preferred Benedict.)



Ann Althouse said...

"Nothing in the Word suggests their place in Heaven is not assured."

If you really believed in Heaven, wouldn't you want to err on the side of doing whatever MIGHT be necessary? Why would you risk your eternal soul on the lack of clarity about whether the statement about charity needs to be taken literally?

St. George said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
CStanley said...

If you really believed in Heaven, wouldn't you want to err on the side of doing whatever MIGHT be necessary? Why would you risk your eternal soul on the lack of clarity about whether the statement about charity needs to be taken literally?

Because it's not actually unclear (when taken with the whole context) any more than was the verse about letting the dead bury the dead, or any number of other paradoxical teachings.

It's only unclear when cherry-picked in order to portray Christians as hypocrites, which is an attempt to make Christianity irrelevant. If you really didn'tbelieve in God and heaven, why would you do that?

CStanley said...

@Mark and exiledonmainstreet : Well said.

Bruce, whether you meant offense or not isn't the point. Continuing to attribute false beliefs to other Christians is harmful to ecumenism and we really can't afford that in present times. Either take the time to read and understand what the Catholic Church teaches on these matters or keep your own counsel.

Unknown said...

Ann asks "Isn't it better to be safe than sorry?" And thus, anyone who doesn't sell all they have and give to the poor is not a Christian.

But that's not the way it works, is it? Why did Jesus command that gentleman to sell all that he had; but as pointed out up thread, not others?

The answer of course goes to what does Jesus want from us? He commended the widow who put in her two mites versus the rich men who gave plenty to the Temple. But the Temple wouldn't function if all it had were widows mites, would it?

The Lord commands us to serve Him with all our might, mind and strength. We are to be good stewards and servants of the Master, and that most of the time does not mean beggaring ourselves. Recall the parable of the talents: the man who gained 5 talents (a huge sum) was richly rewarded.

Put simply: A rich person who can help lots of poor people, for a long time, is a fantastic servant. Selling all you have may well alleviate some poor people, but it's a one time deal. The Lord does not require us to run faster than we have strength.

Riches in and of themselves are not evil. It is the love of money that is evil. But riches, sought and acquired and then spent to further God's work, is a very good thing.

--Vance

mockturtle said...

Ann asks: If you really believed in Heaven, wouldn't you want to err on the side of doing whatever MIGHT be necessary? Why would you risk your eternal soul on the lack of clarity about whether the statement about charity needs to be taken literally?

"For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast."Eph. 2:8,9.

This was Luther's message [as well as Augustine's]: We cannot earn our way to heaven. Our salvation is a gift from God. Christ was our necessary Passover Lamb, for "without the shedding of the blood there is no forgiveness". Heb.9:22b.
.

mockturtle said...

Bruce Hayden says: Followed by early immigration into New England by both sides of the family (my mother's family were the Puritans - which is probably where my dogmatic Protestantism comes from

Same here, only on my father's side. You and I both have old NE roots and Colorado roots. Maybe we're cousins! ;-)

Unknown said...

Ah, Mockturtle, and a few of the other Protestants. That's always been the greatest issue with your theology: it turns following Christ into nothing. You don't have to do anything, because "It's by grace ye are saved, so it's pointless to do works, so no works are required, so just sit there, and eat, drink and be merry because your works are irrelevant!"

Yes, we are saved by grace, but too many Protestant faiths turn that into "God doesn't care what you do or don't do, so it's all good. No worries, man!" And that turns Christianity into just an academic exercise. It makes a mockery of Christ to say that a person can just say "I believe!" and they get the exact same reward as Moses, Peter, Paul, and the faithful followers of Christ in all generations who suffered and were persecuted, but strove to follow the Lord and Master.

Faith is useless without works. Jesus Himself rejected "Faith alone" as all that is necessary for salvation in Matthew 7:21. So Ann's question is a very valid one.

--Vance

CStanley said...

@Vance. Good comment. It all depends on the meaning of "faith", doesn't it?

I agree that Prof Althouse asks a good question and is right to point out that unbelievers see what Christians do and dismiss the idea of religious faith because of the hypocrisy they see. What she misses though, is the more central paradox, "the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak." If Christians were able to give a perfect witness of faith, we wouldn't have needed Christ's sacrifice to begin with.

I don't see why this is hard to grasp anyway, if one considers human nature even regarding secular things. Since people smoke, are we to believ that they disbelieve the science showing the harms of it? Since we overeat and consume French fries and sodas, do we have proof that people generally don't "believe" that those choices are likely to lead to obesity and diabetes? it's quite obvious that we are wired in such a way that we choose short term gratifications even when we have reason to believe that there will be long term harm. We simply kick the can down the road. I'm not sure why Prof Althouse thinks we'd be immune to that effect as it relates to our beliefs about the afterlife.

Kirk Parker said...

St. Croix,

You must hate Bonhoeffer, then.

mockturtle said...

Vance, works show our faith. "By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. Heb 11:8.

I agree that 'easy believe-ism' is wrong. As the Apostle Paul said, "What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?" Romans 6:1,2

Repentance implies a change of mind which leads to a change in behavior. My outlook and behavior have changed drastically since I received Christ in my late 30's. But nothing I do or say, or don't do or say, is going to help get me into heaven. John 3:16 says, without condition, "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

Jesus' whole argument with the Pharisees was to poke holes in their legalism. God is sovereign in salvation as well as everything else.

That's my sermon for the day. :-)

DanTheMan said...

>>Why would you risk your eternal soul on the lack of clarity about whether the statement about charity needs to be taken literally?

Because God is not a lawyer?

harryo said...

Lewis Wetzel said...And yet Copernicus was a priest who published a book saying that the Earth went around the sun.

Bah! By then the Protestants had inflicted a mortal wound on the church.

Gahrie said...

If you really believed in Heaven, wouldn't you want to err on the side of doing whatever MIGHT be necessary?

Now we're getting closer to Allah....please me or be damned! (literally)

I was raised a Catholic....but never had faith, even when I had belief. The crisis came when I asked my Sunday School teacher..."so....if I live my life as God commanded, as a good man, following all of the Christian virtues, but I don't believe in Jesus, I will go to Hell?" Of course she said yes. Then I asked "If I am an evil man, taking pleasure in vice and abusing my fellow man, yet on my death bed sincerly accept Jesus as my savior and repent, I get to go to Heaven?" Yes again.

Think about that. My father, who loves me, is going to sentence me to eternal damnation, even though I was a good man, simply because I refuse to acknowledge him? Is that the action of a loving God? The only unforgivable sin is the disbelief in God?

mockturtle said...

Gahrie, remember the parable of the laborers, when the ones hired at the 'eleventh hour' received the same wages as those who labored all day?

Sin is why we need a Savior in the first place. As Jesus points out, we are all sinners. Those who think they are not are dealt with in the story Jesus tells:

Luke 18:10-14: “Two men went up into the temple to pray, the one a Pharisee and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank Thee that I am not as other men are: extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’
And the publican, standing afar off, would not so much as lift up his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other; for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased, and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.”

The Toothless Revolutionary said...

Pretty interesting how much discussion can be generated on the basis of whose sky god is better.

No wonder y'all hate science so much.

Gahrie said...

Sin is why we need a Savior in the first place

I get that. By why is the only unforgivable sin the lack of faith?

Gahrie said...

Gahrie, remember the parable of the laborers

"The point of the parable — both at the level of Jesus and the level of Matthew's Gospel — is that God saves by grace, not by our worthiness. That applies to all of us."

This is exactly my point. I can't earn my father's love and understanding by who I am and how I live, I can only receive it by believing in him. If you want my unquestioning worship, why give me free will?

CStanley said...

Gabriel I'm not so sure that your Sunday school teacher answered you correctly, and I certainly don't think it's correct (according to Catholic teaching) that the only unforgivable sin is the lack of faith. I haven't the time right now but since you have got me thinking I will probably check out some passages in the catechism and may post my thoughts on it in the morning.

mockturtle said...

Isaiah 55:8,9 says

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.

For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.


So the bottom line is that God is God and we aren't.

Jesus says that, aside from unbelief, the only unforgivable sin is blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. What that entails, exactly, I have no clue.

Gahrie said...

I haven't the time right now but since you have got me thinking

My day has been a success! (I am a teacher...every time I can manage to get someone thinking I consider that a victory already)

I will probably check out some passages in the catechism and may post my thoughts on it in the morning.

Thank you...I look forward to it.

Gahrie said...

So the bottom line is that God is God and we aren't.

Oh I get the whole "the ways of God are unknowable" thing...that's the basic foundation of my beliefs...I am a Deist.

Gahrie said...

Jesus says that, aside from unbelief, the only unforgivable sin is blasphemy of the Holy Spirit.

Cheer up...from what I understand, because you believe you are immune to blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is disbelief with ill intent or hostility. So I am also, I mean no ill to the church.

mockturtle said...

Gary, as a Deist, what is your position on Jesus?

Gahrie said...

I believe that Jesus existed and preached the Gospel. I believe that he was a good man who inspired greatness and good deeds in his name. I am more than willing to believe that he believed what he said. The problem is I don't believe what he said.

mockturtle said...

So when he said, "I am the Way, the Truth and the Life; no one comes to the Father but by me." he is being delusional?

As C.S. Lewis remarked, one must believe one of three things about Jesus: He was either a liar, a madman or the Son of God.

Saint Croix said...

so....if I live my life as God commanded, as a good man, following all of the Christian virtues

That's a big if!

Have you given all your money to the poor?

How are you doing on loving your enemies?

I think people are a little glib on this "good man" stuff.

You underestimate how selfish and self-centered you are.

We all do!

Are you to judge your own goodness?

Jesus is a reality check for those who call themselves good.

I don't believe in Jesus, I will go to Hell?

If you're anti-Christ, you're really in trouble, in my opinion. I would not be anti-Christ. There are many Jews, many Muslims, many Hindus, many atheists, who are not anti-Christ.

"If I am an evil man, taking pleasure in vice and abusing my fellow man

You have described humanity!

yet on my death bed sincerly accept Jesus as my savior and repent, I get to go to Heaven?"

This is why we're so happy! It's nice to admit you are a sinner and accept the grace of God.

Gahrie said...

So when he said, "I am the Way, the Truth and the Life; no one comes to the Father but by me." he is being delusional?

I believe so..yes. But again, i think he was a good man that inspired even more goodness.

One of my heroes is Elon Musk, despite the fact that I think he is completely delusional about climate change.

Gahrie said...



You underestimate how selfish and self-centered you are.

That may be, however I was using a hypothetical of someone who was truly living a Christian life in all aspects except faith.

CStanley said...

@Gahrie, if you're still checking back here:
Haven't had as much time as I'd hoped this morning so I don't have the CCC references, but will share my opinions.

First, regarding the story you related from your childhood, I think the teacher did you a great disservice. The question you posed was a trap not unlike those posed to Jesus by the Pharisees (precocious, you must have been!) I don't know if I would have known how to answer, but I hope I would have recognized the reason you were asking it rather than take it as an honest query (not saying you were deliberately dishonest....but your discomfort with some of these ideas, I suspect, was leading you to look for a reason to turn away from the teachings of the Church.)

Now let me look again at your questions:

The crisis came when I asked my Sunday School teacher..."so....if I live my life as God commanded, as a good man, following all of the Christian virtues, but I don't believe in Jesus, I will go to Hell?" Of course she said yes. Then I asked "If I am an evil man, taking pleasure in vice and abusing my fellow man, yet on my death bed sincerly accept Jesus as my savior and repent, I get to go to Heaven?" Yes again.

The better answer to both questions IMO would have been, "Only God knows who goes to heaven and who goes to hell. What we do know is that God has given us commandments which are meant for our benefit, and He wishes also for us to love Him. If we reject either God himself or His commandments, we believe that we are in danger of the loss of our eternal life (otherwise known as "going to hell")

All of this really is about our relationship to God and to the universe. You mentioned upthread you agree that God is unknowable, and presumably you take that to the degree that you do not feel it possible to have a personal relationship with Him. I am also inferring that this is in part because you have a very rational mind, and find it impossible to hold a strong belief in God as a Being who wishes to have a relationship with you; furthermore,when you take some of the teachings of the Church to their logical ends they paint a picture of a God who seems like an abomination to you. If I am getting that wrong please correct me.

If I'm on the right track, I will give you my take on it. I have difficulty, as well, with belief. What I have found though is that when I suspend disbelief, everything comes into focus and I find it impossible to disbelieve. It's as though the finer details are very hard for my brain to process and accept, but the big picture absolutely makes sense and explains things about life for which I can find no other satisfactory explanation.

As far as the inadequacy of good works for salvation, two issues present themselves. One is that we are so flawed that we really aren't up to the task of doing good works consistently. Even the person who performs lots of charitable works is going to also do selfish things and neglect to do some good works, so that the balance sheet will not be positive. Secondly, and I think more important, is that doing good works as an end to itself misses the whole point of our existence. Putting your focus there is like entering into a marriage with the idea that it will be a contractual arrangement for pooled earnings, housekeeping arrangements, and providing sexual satisfaction for one another. It can be done that way, and if maintained that isn't a bad arrangement, but it lacks any intimacy which is the actual point of marriage as a covenant. Similarly, doing acts of mercy for our fellow man is certainly a good thing, but without the love (which always flows from God, and returns to Him when we do these acts as an expression of our love for Him), they are sterile and we don't take part in the joyful creation of the Kingdom of Heaven, which really is the purpose for our existence.

CStanley said...

I'm curious, too...in what way do you believe that Jesus was a good man?

I am with mockturtle and CS Lewis on this, and find your Elon Musk analogy inapt. Believing oneself to be God is a very big delusion, not IMO compatible with being overall sane and good. Plus, in addition to Jesus sacrificing his life over it there were many contemporaries of His who also believed this, and martyred themselves.

mockturtle said...

And, too, as God knows he is 'unknowable and impersonal' to man, he sent his Son in human flesh so that we could have that personal relationship.

Gahrie said...

I am also inferring that this is in part because you have a very rational mind, and find it impossible to hold a strong belief in God as a Being who wishes to have a relationship with you; furthermore,when you take some of the teachings of the Church to their logical ends they paint a picture of a God who seems like an abomination to you.

Pretty accurate, although abomination is a little stronger than I would go. As a Deist, I do believe in a creator, but indeed a creator that does not desire a relationship with me or to judge my actions. I also do not believe in an afterlife.

I'm curious, too...in what way do you believe that Jesus was a good man?

From what I know of the historical Jesus, he lived in a manner I would describe as good. The religion he created has, judged in its entirety, been a force for good, and a vital component of Western Civilization. I disagree with the contention that one cannot be both delusional and good. People sacrifice themselves for many reasons and beliefs, some good, some evil.


Gahrie said...

Similarly, doing acts of mercy for our fellow man is certainly a good thing, but without the love (which always flows from God, and returns to Him when we do these acts as an expression of our love for Him), they are sterile

I treat my fellow man with love and compassion because of my love for my fellow man and because I believe it to be the right thing to do. I guess my lack of faith extends from not perceiving God's love for me.

mockturtle said...

When Christ poked holes in the Pharisees' following the Ten Commandments, he wasn't implying that lusting in your heart is as egregious as committing adultery or that anger toward your neighbor is as bad as murdering him. The point He was making was the no one is without sin.

The young rich man who said he 'followed all the commandments' was tested by the request that he sell all that he had and give it to the poor. Jesus knew that he would balk at this, which is why he suggested it. He skewered the notion that anyone might have that they are 'good enough' for the kingdom of God.

CStanley said...

What is the basis, in your personal philosophy, for the existence of love at all? If we're just stardust created by an impersonal deity, why should we love each other? Isn't it kind of a big deal that you have these feelings and this sense of right and wrong at all?

I've heard some of the explanations for the evolutionary advantages of altruism, but they fall short IMO.

CStanley said...

From what I know of the historical Jesus, he lived in a manner I would describe as good. The religion he created has, judged in its entirety, been a force for good, and a vital component of Western Civilization

Would you agree that for many people, Christianity is a prerequisite to leading what you would call a good life? That this belief is something that many of us find necessary to becoming better people?

If so, I wonder if you can also percieve, or if you are willing to admit at least to the possibility, of hubris on your part. If you see that the acceptance of redemption through Christ's sacrifice is edifying for others, on what basis do you exempt yourself from this need?

Gahrie said...

What is the basis, in your personal philosophy, for the existence of love at all?

Well at its most basic level, it is a useful survival trait. There is a reason that even in animals there is love for and by the mother in many species. A more basic question however is what is the point of existence? I wish I had faith, it makes life much less complicated.

I believe that religion plays a vital role in civilization. It provides the intrinsic and extrinsic motivations that allow large groups of humans to live together relatively peacefully.

He skewered the notion that anyone might have that they are 'good enough' for the kingdom of God.

The problem I have is actually the opposite.....we are all good enough for Heaven, but only if we worship God unconditionally.

Gahrie said...

Would you agree that for many people, Christianity is a prerequisite to leading what you would call a good life? That this belief is something that many of us find necessary to becoming better people?

Yes...quite strongly in fact. It is the main reason why I support Christianity as strongly as I do.

If so, I wonder if you can also percieve, or if you are willing to admit at least to the possibility, of hubris on your part.

The possibility? Sure. But I don't believe myself to be better than others, or god-like. I'm just a simple man, trying to live a good life.

If you see that the acceptance of redemption through Christ's sacrifice is edifying for others, on what basis do you exempt yourself from this need?

I don't. I am actually jealous of the faithful. But the essential fact is that I do not possess faith. I resent(? that's really too strong a word...despair? dislike?) the fact that no matter how successful I am at living a good life, I will be damned because of my lack of faith while an evil man who repents and has faith will be saved. That just doesn't seem very loving to me.

mockturtle said...

The problem I have is actually the opposite.....we are all good enough for Heaven, but only if we worship God unconditionally.

No one is good enough for Heaven. Only Christ alone is able to be our sacrifice for sin. Only through His blood [metaphorically speaking] are we made 'good enough'.

CStanley said...

Well I'd say that faith isn't something we possess, rather it's a decision we make. It doesn't really make sense to place it as something beyond our control. It is the acceptance of something without proof, which is harder for some people to do than for others, but not out of anyone's grasp. You (and this isn't unique to you, I've heard it many times) seem to think that those of us who live by faith have found it easy to do so, or that instead of faith we actually have some sort of sense of surety, which isn't the case. That's actually one reason I came back to the Catholic Church as an adult, after exploring evangelical Christianity including a rather mundane "born again" experience, but feeling that that event didn't hold much meaning. Instead, I felt that every day I have to be "born again", to keep making the decision to believe and accept God's love (even when I don't necessarily feel it.)

I will be damned because of my lack of faith while an evil man who repents and has faith will be saved. That just doesn't seem very loving to me.
If you don't believe in the existence of heaven or hell, I don't see why this should bother you. That it does suggests to me either you aren't so sure, or that you care what other people think of you.

At any rate, I find it much easier to reconcile the idea of a loving God with the Christian teachings on heaven and hell by always placing the possibility of redemption with the created, not the Creator. He already decided to offer it once for all, and it's our choice to take it or leave it. If you don't even believe that's the case (that none of this is real) then why get bothered about it? But if you do think it might be real, try just thinking of heaven as an acceptance of a marriage proposal from someone who will love you perfectly, forever, while hell is your eternal life after you realize that you were too stubborn to consider that proposal. By making it into a flaw of God that He gives us the choice, you really are stubbornly resisting Him.

CStanley said...

@mockturtle- you are right to make that correction, but I think what he was getting at is that it feels wrong for the relative "goodness" of various persons to not matter. It's the lament of the prodigal son's brother.

But what I was trying to get at in my last comment was, if there is no inheritance anyway then there's no basis for any dispute at all. And if doing good works is its own reward, then there's no basis for envying people who have different motivations... the secular humanist who finds it rewarding to live a good life would be satisfied, if that was all that there is to life.

mockturtle said...

Some Christians believe that faith is a choice and some believe it is a gift. Pauline and Augustinian theology would support this but others would not. To me, it makes no difference because the end results are the same. But Jesus said in the book of John 10:26-30:
“But you do not believe because you are not of My sheep. My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.”

C Stanley said...

Well the interpretation of that passage that precludes choice is much too Calvinist for me.

Besides, in context Jesus was speaking to the Pharisees, so it is they (not the generic unbeliever) who are antecedent for "you".