I didn't say Christian. I said Judeo-Christian. This tradition includes Judaism, christianity, and Islam. This does include a significant portion of the world's population.
All right, with all three religions included that brings it up to about 54% of the world's population, still just a bit over half of all the people on the planet. Even with the increased percentage, though, that still doesn't alter my previous point.
(Though now that I think of it, I'm curious as to what constitutes a "Judeo-Christian" moral code? The historical moral code as presented in the Old Testament shares a number of general "thou shalt not"s with Christian theology---but those blanket rules or guidelines [a few of which I mentioned previously] are prevalent throughout all of human society, not just that population that subscribes to the three religions mentioned. In specifics, the OT moral code is utterly different than the Christian moral code.)
Sorry, got interrupted. So we've covered the western world and the middle east with Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. If we go to the far east, moral codes are derived from Shintoism, Taoism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Zoroastrianism, etc. These also, like the Western religions, have their sacred texts that provide both theology, philosophy and legal/moral codes.
I'm not saying all moral people today are religious. Nor am I saying that all religious people are moral.
What I'm saying is that one would be hard-pressed to find any significant portion of the world's population whose moral code is not derivative of a religious core.
The possible exception is Stalinist Russia and Cambodia under Pol Pot--both based on Marxism--an athiest moral code. Is that an example you really want to hold up of a moral code that is not derived from religion?
Can you actually provide me with examples of moral codes that are not, at some point, derivative from religion?This message has been edited. Last edited by: Mr. Dark,
The point I was originally making, is that there is a general set of moral principles to which the human race subscribes. The fact that many of the same rules (as to what constitutes acceptable behaviour) are held to be valid in all religions simply highlights the fact that it is possible to maintain a valid moral code regardless of one's religion.
Therefore, when I say that I don't want the specifics of any branch of Christianity entangled with the US government, it does not mean I am advocating a complete "anything goes" moral anarchy. It simply means I don't think a particular religious sect should expect to have their own beliefs forced on all Americans through the law and government.
Well, I would say that at the very dawn of civilisation, moral codes arose from a sense of empathy, in one person being able to put themselves into another's shoes. For instance, if someone said to another "If you steal what is mine, it will make me very sad or angry. I can understand that if I steal from you, you will feel the same way. So, DON'T steal from me, and I will return the favour; that way we can both be happy."
The very earliest and most primitive religions did not, after all, spring up full-fledged with their holy laws written all at once; it was a matter of time before all these thoughts came together. And basic morality was written into the religions as they formed. (You could say that civilisation was only able to progress because of the most basic moral laws, for what is civilisation but a group of like-minded people working together for the greater good? If everyone only looked out for themselves with no regard for anyone else, anarchy would reign and there would have been no progress.)
From what we can read, in the early days, there was anarchy and power ruled supreme. The idea that religious codes evolved over time is a claim that not all persons accept. I see a combination of revelation and a kind of social evolution in the development of religion. This view itself is viewed by some as blasphemous, and I can't say I've settled these issues for myself fully, and I'm probably over-stating what I actually think.
I see truths in all the major religious sacred texts--and things I'm not sure I understand, as well. It may be that God has worked through each people within its own history and context.
But I still believe the moral claims we see throughout the world are derived from religion, and do not reflect man sorting this stuff out on his own. And I believe there is a God behind it all, guiding us, loving us, and watching. This, of course, is a faith claim.
Now, there is, of course, the debate on what religion is, how literal sacred texts and mythologies should/can be taken, etc.
Night and day.
You guys are kidding, right? Doug Spaulding, you are supposed to be a Christian, right? I dunno about theoctobercountry. Sounds like he fell off the fence. The other side.
Now that I have offended you both, let me tell you how you offended me: By your ignorance on who Christ is!! He is the New Covenant. He absorbed the Old covenant. The Father is still just as angry. The wrath of God still exists as it did in the Old Testament. But Doug, have you forgotten that much about the reason why Christ was the brunt of the Father's old testament wrath? Come on. Christ came to fulfill scriptures.
The Old Testament is Christ hidden. In the New Testament is Christ revealed. Same God. Both New and Old Testaments.
• Case in point: In the Old Testament, who was it that spoke to Moses from the Burning Bush?
Gee, in the New Testament, Jesus Christ said he was the one speaking to Moses from the burning bush described in the Old Testament.
I appreciate the orthodox contributors here who tie us to tradition and the text of scripture. In Hebrews, Christ is clearly the fulfillment of the OT. The OT is not ignored, the OT God is not dead. The OT is culminated and fulfilled in Christ. The NT both fulfills and replaces the OT. The relationship is fascinating.
Where I guess I veer is that I don't deny the wrath of God represented in the NT, but the wrath of God is no longer the focus. The focus is in the self-sacrificing love of Christ--which makes us whole if we accept his work.
I'm a bit hard core in that I think grace is both the forgiving element of Christ's work AND the enabling element. Paul says that he can do all things through Christ Jesus which strentheneth him. I think in order to fulfill Christ's grace in our lives, we must fully accept it. That indwelling grace purges us and enables us to obey God. I am with Bonhoeffer in that I don't believe in salvation through cheap grace. We must actually become, in our lives, disciples (followers) of Christ. "Let us love in deed, not in word only"
Ask the Bishop
Q: Was Jesus also God? Or was he just a wonderful, inspired man more in touch with spiritual things than most other men?
A: Unfortunately, the way you ask this question does not lend itself to a simple answer. I need to know what you mean by the word "God" and what you mean by an "inspired man." This confusion has been created by the Church itself out of a dualistic mindset that believed that God and human life, heaven and earth, souls and bodies, spirit and flesh were radically separate categories. That reflected an ancient mindset that is not part of our world view.
The Christian experience best articulated by St. Paul affirmed that "God was in Christ," that is, in the person of Jesus we met, engaged and interacted with the presence of God. Later when Christians tried to define how God, whom they thought lived above the sky, got into Jesus living on this earth, they had a problem. That is where you begin to get the explanations you find in the gospels.
Mark, the earliest gospel (ca. 70) said that at Jesus' baptism the heavens opened and the spirit of God entered him. The word you used, inspired, really means filled with the spirit.
When Matthew wrote (82-85) he introduced the Virgin Birth story that said God entered Jesus at conception. At that moment, Jesus' full humanity was compromised. Luke, writing a bit later (88-93), confirmed Matthew's Virgin Birth account, but with greatly varying details. John, writing at the end of the century (95-100), asserted that Jesus was "The Word of God" present as part of God at the dawn of creation, and that this "Word" was enfleshed in the fully human Jesus. It is of note that John totally omits the miraculous birth story.
I think most of this debate is irrelevant. I believe that God can dwell in all of us and that the experience of the early Christians was that God indwelt Jesus in a particularly full and complete way.
To say that "Jesus is God" in a simplistic way is absolute nonsense. Jesus prayed to God. Was he talking to himself? Jesus died. Can one say God dies?
I meet God in Jesus. I also meet God in people like you. The difference, I am convinced, is one of degree not one of kind.
– John Shelby Spong
The above Spong Q&A is just horrible. Horrible!!
What a bender of the truth. What a misinformed man this Spong is. When people begin to embrace sin as acceptable behavior, like embracing the values of an adulterer or a drunkard, then your take on spiritual get-go from scripture is tainted and wrong.
Spong embraces other sinful behavior as acceptable. And THIS is what he comes up with: he doesn't have a clue if Jesus is God or God is Jesus. Or if Spong himself is God or god, or you are, or me. Great deception.
This man somehow is immersed in the church but doesn't have a grip on the most important fundamentals. He doesn't know if Jesus resurrected or not. He doesn't know if Christ was fully divine and fully human. Maybe his humanity was compromised, he figures. You must know these things if there is to be any further understanding of scripture.
But the world, very very unfortunately, is becoming full of Spongs and his ilk. The younger generations are emotionally and psychologically captured by his talk and his words and his nonconservative thinking. What a shame. What a shame.
I wrestle with over-simplified faith claims as often too simplistic and too dogmatic. But we have lost much of the core of what it means to be Christian by allowing all theologies and non-theologies equal claim.
We have strayed from a focus on theology to a loss of understanding, and often religion without theology (which I believe is what we're heading toward) is simply subjective feeling. Once Spong and Borg defy the inspired nature of the scriptural text, they can claim whatever they want. It may be true, it may not. But there is nothing but their own subjective feelings to tether their teachings to.
Well, this brings up the question as to how many of the Biblical writings truly are inspired by God. Most people here would say "every bit" I dare say, but if that is the case shouldn't the Bible follow its own internal logic and not contain any contradictions?
I had asked this question before, but once again: how is it possible to have an Old Testament God telling his followers to do exactly the opposite of what Jesus says in the New Testament? There are plenty of warlike passages in the OT, with God specifically commanding people to do things like kill their enemies---kill the women and children, but set aside any virgins to rape for your own pleasure. I simply do not believe that God would say these things (particularly since it goes against NT teachings). And don't see how it can be possible that contradictory statements are all "inspired" by God.
theoctobercountry: Well, the only way you are going to get answers is to get yourself into a good Bible school and sign up for some classes. It takes a lot of study. It takes a lot of discernment. You just don't read a few things and ask a few friends and think that's it...no answers are around. Originally I'm from Chicago,and the largest serious Bible school in the Midwest is Moody Bible Institute. They have a sprawling campus just north of downtown Chicago. Where I now live, the biggest one is BIOLA, the Bible Institute of Los Angeles. Moody offers 4 year liberal arts education for free, but you have to live on campus, room and board you pay.
You are asking questions that often take serious prolong study to understand adequately. As to God's wrath in the Old Testament, as a believer I do not fear what implications that all means, because when I accept Jesus Christ that now means he begins to live in me and how I conduct my life begins to imitate Christ because it is no longer I that lives, but Christ in me invading my emotions and thoughts so that I begin to return to the original intent God had for creating me in the first place. The wrath of God has been placed on Christ, and Christ is now my 'shield" if you want to use that metaphor. Since Christ lives in me, it is He who takes on the wrath of His father. I am thus...saved!
There are far, far more complicated Bible passages than the one you posted above. But breaking thru to their meaning and implications is an incredible personal experience.
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