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5 years ago  ::  Feb 19, 2010 - 9:50AM #51
SeraphimR
Posts: 9,877

Feb 19, 2010 -- 7:14AM, Ralph.m wrote:


You're still going to insist that all of the decisions on doctrine and dogma were all carried out by nice little ecumenical councils, and not by purges, heresy trials and book-burnings.  If you think the early church was so democratic, you might want to explain why there are almost no written works of the heretics that survived those early purges. Most of what is known about them comes from the books written by church fathers who attacked their views.


Of course they were decided by ecumenical councils.  You don't decide doctrine and dogma at purges, trials or book-burnings.  Who would you know to purge or try, or which books to burn if the doctrines and dogmas hadn't been decided on before hand?


Very few heretical works survive because people knew they were worthless and didn't copy them, so they crumbled to dust.


Also, I find it interesting that books that are supposed to be divinely inspired, are cobbled together, edited, and arranged by a committee decision, rather than getting some voice from on high to tell them what to do!  Seems like a divine revelation could have stopped the arguments  about the nature of God in their tracks; so why were the leaders left to carry on their squabbles about doctrine?  The fact that even fundamentalists have to admit that doctrines and decisions regarding what books to consider scripture, were made by committee, further weakens fundamentalist arguments about Biblical inerrancy.


You should bring this up with a fundamentalist who argues for Biblical inerrancy.


Based on what we do know about early Christianity, there was a wide divergence of doctrinal views, even on the subject of the nature of Jesus Christ. There were Docetists, who believed he was divine, and not a real flesh and blood human; and there were Ebionites, who believed that Jesus was a messiah of the Old Testament kind - a mere mortal, like King David, who was anointed by God to be king.  A later doctrine that Jesus was both 100% divine and 100% human, appears to be a syncretic mash up that was not part of any early Christian teaching. 


When archaeologists dig up scrolls from the early Christian communities, they find writings of Gnostics, Marcionites or Ebionites -- they don't find orthodox Christian teaching, which indicates that they didn't develop until later on when the Christian authorities started to enforce orthodoxy among the various churches in the Empire.


Oh, they find plenty of Orthodox writings from the early Christian communities.  It is just that they are not news worthy because we've had them all along.  St. Paul's epistles are the earliest examples of Orthodox teaching.




Look, if you want to be a Gnostic, or whatever, be my guest.  Just don't claim to be a Christian.  You guys lost fair and square because you guys had a lousy religion that didn't save souls from sin and death.


I love my Church.  You hate it.  Fine.  Just stay out of my Church and go brood over supposed past injustices somewhere else.  We don't need your bad vibes.


Perhaps you already do so, in which case this is all a distraction.  But while you are nursing your bad attitudes you can spend some time actually reading about the Early Church here.  You will note the Irenaeus had the goods on all of your favorite heresies over a hundred years before the Ecumenical councils.  Ebionism, Gnosticism and Marcionism were already dead before the Bishops met at Niceae.  It was Arianism, a novel doctrine that sprung from the brain of Arius, that was the focus of debate.

People with a mission to save the earth want the earth to seem worse than it is so their mission will look more important.


P.J. O'Rourke
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5 years ago  ::  Feb 19, 2010 - 4:24PM #52
Ralph.m
Posts: 159

Feb 19, 2010 -- 9:50AM, SeraphimR wrote:


Look, if you want to be a Gnostic, or whatever, be my guest.  Just don't claim to be a Christian.  You guys lost fair and square because you guys had a lousy religion that didn't save souls from sin and death.



No, I'm not interested in being a gnostic, but fundamentalist Christians are afraid to look at the evidence of how much influence gnosticism had on early Christian thinking.  Again, why is it that when old collections of scrolls are found, they are gnostic - like the Nag Hammadi Texts or the recently revealed Gospel of Judas, or belong to some other, now obscure sect.  The orthodox view is orthodox because of the use of intimidation and violence to enforce the views of what became orthodox teaching.


One thing the gnostics had over later Christian teaching is that their dualistic concept that this world is ruled by an evil demiurge that we have to escape from to attain salvation -- is an airtight explanation for the Problem of Evil -- which Christianity has never been able to adequately deal with; otherwise the whole, convoluted field of Theodicy would not have been needed. When theology becomes complicated, that's where it is unraveling, and the theologians are forced to plug the gaps or at least confuse the average parishoner enough to stop asking questions and just assume that everything works on faith.


Yeah, the Gnostics lost fair and square, just like the Ebionites, Arians and Marcionites -- but the battle over doctrine does not look anything like any sort of divinely inspired process for discovering truth!


I love my Church.  You hate it.  Fine.  Just stay out of my Church and go brood over supposed past injustices somewhere else.  We don't need your bad vibes.



Did I wander on to the Orthodox Christian Board by mistake?  No, I don't think so. And I have never said anything directly about your version of truth, partly because I am not as well versed in Eastern Orthodox doctrines as Catholicism, Protestant or new Evangelical versions of Christianity. I don't know which Orthodox Church you belong to (nor do I care), but I do know that there are some variations between them.


Your protest against criticism is even more bizarre since you came in here barnstorming the Progressive Christians about being wishy washy and too loose on interpretation. If you criticize the beliefs of others, you should at least be open to some criticism of your own beliefs.......and now, I have some reading to do about Orthodox Christianity.


Perhaps you already do so, in which case this is all a distraction.  But while you are nursing your bad attitudes you can spend some time actually reading about the Early Church here.  You will note the Irenaeus had the goods on all of your favorite heresies over a hundred years before the Ecumenical councils.  Ebionism, Gnosticism and Marcionism were already dead before the Bishops met at Niceae.  It was Arianism, a novel doctrine that sprung from the brain of Arius, that was the focus of debate.



Like I said before, I take what these early church fathers say with a grain of salt, since their criticisms of heretics is all that is known of them. It's like the jury in a courtroom trial only hearing from the prosecutor, and never hearing from the defense.


 


There are only a few scraps of original writings attributed to Marcion, and some early Greek critics of the growing Christian Church would have been completely obliterated from collective memory, if critical works were not written about them. For example, the Greek 2nd Century philosopher and playwright - Celsus, is only known of today because of a critical work written about him by Origen - called "Against Celsus."  So, what kind of assessment of Celsus's work can we make when he doesn't have a chance to make his own case to the modern day reader?


BTW those heresies didn't die out, they were persecuted out of existence. The Ebionites were likely the leaders of the Church in Jerusalem, which was persecuted and marginalized by both Jews and Christians. There is evidence of an Ebionite community still being present in 5th Century Cyprus, and some circumstantial evidence that other isolated Ebionite groups lasted until the year 1000....and it's pretty much the same story for the other heretic groups. Sure they lost the fight over doctrine,  but what kind of method for determining truth is this?  The Church of Rome was patronized and favoured with official recognition by the Emperor; if Christianity was still persecuted in the 4th and 5th centuries, the Jerusalem Church would have still been the authoritative leader, and Christianity would look much different today as a result.


 

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5 years ago  ::  Feb 19, 2010 - 6:08PM #53
SeraphimR
Posts: 9,877

Feb 19, 2010 -- 4:24PM, Ralph.m wrote:


No, I'm not interested in being a gnostic, but fundamentalist Christians are afraid to look at the evidence of how much influence gnosticism had on early Christian thinking.  Again, why is it that when old collections of scrolls are found, they are gnostic - like the Nag Hammadi Texts or the recently revealed Gospel of Judas, or belong to some other, now obscure sect.  The orthodox view is orthodox because of the use of intimidation and violence to enforce the views of what became orthodox teaching.


I am not a fundamentalist and I've done a fair amount of investigation of the relationship between Orthodoxy and Gnosticism.  I really don't see a lot of influence of Gnosticism on Orthodox Christianity, rather the reverse I would say.  There is more than a little influence of Gnosticism on American Protestantism and Progressive Christianity, to be sure.  Harold Bloom is the author to read here.


Old collections of Orthodox texts are found from time to time.  But when they are found, it is not especially newsworthy, so you get a distorted view of the prevelence of Orthodoxy.  If you read the website I suggested, you will see that Orthodox views are traced right back to the Apostles.


One thing the gnostics had over later Christian teaching is that their dualistic concept that this world is ruled by an evil demiurge that we have to escape from to attain salvation -- is an airtight explanation for the Problem of Evil -- which Christianity has never been able to adequately deal with; otherwise the whole, convoluted field of Theodicy would not have been needed. When theology becomes complicated, that's where it is unraveling, and the theologians are forced to plug the gaps or at least confuse the average parishoner enough to stop asking questions and just assume that everything works on faith.


You are right that Gnostics had a good explanation for Theodicy.  I think the Orthodox explanation is almost as good, but not very popular these days.  In Orthodoxy we have a Satan who is almost as powerful as God, but not quite.  Things are grim now, but will work out in the end.


I don't agree that theological complexity indicates unraveling any more than scientific complexity indicates unraveling.  Although if something is unraveling it does become more complex.


And you should read some of those Gnostic texts.  They are nothing if not complicated.  But I don't hold that against them.


Yeah, the Gnostics lost fair and square, just like the Ebionites, Arians and Marcionites -- but the battle over doctrine does not look anything like any sort of divinely inspired process for discovering truth!


This may be your opinion, but who cares.  If you have a Satan almost as powerful as God, this process is one that might be expected.  After all, they Crucified our Saviour and many of His Apostles and a countless number of martyrs


I love my Church.  You hate it.  Fine.  Just stay out of my Church and go brood over supposed past injustices somewhere else.  We don't need your bad vibes.



Did I wander on to the Orthodox Christian Board by mistake?  No, I don't think so. And I have never said anything directly about your version of truth, partly because I am not as well versed in Eastern Orthodox doctrines as Catholicism, Protestant or new Evangelical versions of Christianity. I don't know which Orthodox Church you belong to (nor do I care), but I do know that there are some variations between them.


Your protest against criticism is even more bizarre since you came in here barnstorming the Progressive Christians about being wishy washy and too loose on interpretation. If you criticize the beliefs of others, you should at least be open to some criticism of your own beliefs.......and now, I have some reading to do about Orthodox Christianity.


Oh, I am not protesting against criticism.  Not at all!  Bring it on!  The critical softballs you are tossing are making me look good when I swat them out of the park.


I just don't want Progressive Christians infiltrating my Church, which is not a debating society but a hospital using settled doctrine to heal sick souls.  I don't want half-assed post modernists interfering with that process.


 


Like I said before, I take what these early church fathers say with a grain of salt, since their criticisms of heretics is all that is known of them. It's like the jury in a courtroom trial only hearing from the prosecutor, and never hearing from the defense.


There are only a few scraps of original writings attributed to Marcion, and some early Greek critics of the growing Christian Church would have been completely obliterated from collective memory, if critical works were not written about them. For example, the Greek 2nd Century philosopher and playwright - Celsus, is only known of today because of a critical work written about him by Origen - called "Against Celsus."  So, what kind of assessment of Celsus's work can we make when he doesn't have a chance to make his own case to the modern day reader?


BTW those heresies didn't die out, they were persecuted out of existence. The Ebionites were likely the leaders of the Church in Jerusalem, which was persecuted and marginalized by both Jews and Christians. There is evidence of an Ebionite community still being present in 5th Century Cyprus, and some circumstantial evidence that other isolated Ebionite groups lasted until the year 1000....and it's pretty much the same story for the other heretic groups. Sure they lost the fight over doctrine,  but what kind of method for determining truth is this?  The Church of Rome was patronized and favoured with official recognition by the Emperor; if Christianity was still persecuted in the 4th and 5th centuries, the Jerusalem Church would have still been the authoritative leader, and Christianity would look much different today as a result.




Somehow Christianity wasn't persecuted out of existence, despite numerous attempts to do so throughout history.


And none of these groups were persecuted especially hard at all.  Nowhere near as hard as the Christians under Nero, et. al.  They just didn't have a good enough message for their followers to rally round.


I am pretty sure that the Church at Jerusalem pretty much disbanded after the fall of Jerusalem in the first century, so there was no strong Church there to assume leadership.  The Churches at Antioch and Alexandria were the major theological centers of Christianity in the early centuries.  The Church of Jerusalem simply wasn't around and the Ebionites dispersed.  Can we detect the hand of God here, abandoning the heretics in Jerusalem and favoring the Orthodox in Antioch?


There is ample precedent for this type of thing in the OT.


And remember, the center of political power was in Constantinopal, not Rome.  If you want to decry imperial Christianity, it is Orthodoxy you must attack, not Roman Catholicism.  I disown the RCC just as much as you do.


 

People with a mission to save the earth want the earth to seem worse than it is so their mission will look more important.


P.J. O'Rourke
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5 years ago  ::  Feb 20, 2010 - 11:26AM #54
Jupiter6208
Posts: 2,370

To my understanding  a Christian would be one who believes in the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth  all these different Denominations are really pointless and were designed by Man according to what they think God , Jesus says  that's why i really don't subscribe to any one Denomination.  i follow Jesus not some Church. IMO


 


Blessings.

"A person who is nice to you, but rude to the waiter, is not a nice person."  Dave Berry



You will not be punished for your anger, you will be punished by your anger. Buddha.

Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.
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5 years ago  ::  Feb 20, 2010 - 11:50AM #55
SeraphimR
Posts: 9,877

Feb 20, 2010 -- 11:26AM, Jupiter6208 wrote:


To my understanding  a Christian would be one who believes in the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth  all these different Denominations are really pointless and were designed by Man according to what they think God , Jesus says  that's why i really don't subscribe to any one Denomination.  i follow Jesus not some Church. IMO


 


Blessings.




OK, so you have your own private Denomination based on what you think God, Jesus says.


My take on it is that I don't sew my own clothes or refine my own gasoline so why should I invent my own Denomination?  I'm sure I'd make a hash of it.


But good luck to you!

People with a mission to save the earth want the earth to seem worse than it is so their mission will look more important.


P.J. O'Rourke
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5 years ago  ::  Feb 21, 2010 - 12:24PM #56
Stardove
Posts: 15,552

Feb 18, 2010 -- 3:25AM, SeraphimR wrote:


Feb 18, 2010 -- 12:15AM, Stardove wrote:


For better or worse, Christians hold that God is a Person (or, rather, three Persons) and that we can relate to God as a Person, with love or with fear.



Nope.  IMHO.  One cannot put all Christians in the same box with the same beliefs.  If that were the case then there would be only one Christian church, not all the different denominations.


God to me is not a person or three persons in one.  There is no where that God is not present.


A person can only be in one place at one time, except for dream time where the body is in bed, but the mind is free to explore the universe.




If you are not a Trinitarian, you are not a Christian.  Simple as that.  We Christians went through a lot of bother with Ecumenical Councils and all to establish the Christian Dogma. 


Who are you to throw it all out?  Really, what gives you the right to say what Christianity is?


---------------------------


About dream time and exploring the Universe: you don't have problems with the wires?


---------------------------


 



Nice to know you decide who is a Christian and who is not. 


When did you become Creator God?  Tongue out


I ask you, Really, what gives you the right to say what Christianity is?


Please show me where I said what Christianity is. (bold it)


Can you explain why there are so many different denominations within the Protestant movement?

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5 years ago  ::  Feb 21, 2010 - 12:49PM #57
Stardove
Posts: 15,552

Feb 20, 2010 -- 11:26AM, Jupiter6208 wrote:


To my understanding  a Christian would be one who believes in the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth  all these different Denominations are really pointless and were designed by Man according to what they think God , Jesus says  that's why i really don't subscribe to any one Denomination.  i follow Jesus not some Church. IMO


 


Blessings.



Blessings to you! 


Some non Progressive Christians come to this area to debate their own religious beliefs.  I am not sure why that is. 


This area of Beliefnet is suppose to be about discussing, even debating Progressive Christians beliefs. 

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5 years ago  ::  Feb 21, 2010 - 1:22PM #58
SeraphimR
Posts: 9,877

Feb 21, 2010 -- 12:24PM, Stardove wrote:


Feb 18, 2010 -- 3:25AM, SeraphimR wrote:


 


 Nice to know you decide who is a Christian and who is not. 


Isn't me.  It's the Ecumenical Councils, Nicaean Creed.  You've heard of it?


When did you become Creator God? 

I ask you, Really, what gives you the right to say what Christianity is?


Please show me where I said what Christianity is. (bold it)


Can you explain why there are so many different denominations within the Protestant movement.


They somehow came to believe that everyman is his own Pope and can interpret Scripture for himself. 





People with a mission to save the earth want the earth to seem worse than it is so their mission will look more important.


P.J. O'Rourke
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5 years ago  ::  Feb 21, 2010 - 1:29PM #59
SeraphimR
Posts: 9,877

Feb 21, 2010 -- 12:49PM, Stardove wrote:


Feb 20, 2010 -- 11:26AM, Jupiter6208 wrote:


To my understanding  a Christian would be one who believes in the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth  all these different Denominations are really pointless and were designed by Man according to what they think God , Jesus says  that's why i really don't subscribe to any one Denomination.  i follow Jesus not some Church. IMO


 


Blessings.



Blessings to you! 


Some non Progressive Christians come to this area to debate their own religious beliefs.  I am not sure why that is. 


We non Progressive Christians are welcomed here to criticize Progressive Christians.  I take advantage of that fact.




This board is not designed as a community for any particular group; it is an open discussion board, welcoming both followers and critics of Progressive Christianity.


This area of Beliefnet is suppose to be about discussing, even debating Progressive Christians beliefs.



 





People with a mission to save the earth want the earth to seem worse than it is so their mission will look more important.


P.J. O'Rourke
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5 years ago  ::  Feb 21, 2010 - 3:16PM #60
Ralph.m
Posts: 159

Feb 19, 2010 -- 6:08PM, SeraphimR wrote:


Somehow Christianity wasn't persecuted out of existence, despite numerous attempts to do so throughout history.



"Throughout history?"   That is totally false and misleading, considering that Christendom became the ruling force in both the Western and Eastern Roman Empire. And if Christianity was pushed aside in favour of one of the many religions that were popular with different segments of Roman society, fundamentalists today would be proclaiming the destiny of Mithraism, Isis, or the traditional Roman pagan religion (which the Catholic Church adopted large parts of, incidentally).


Many Roman historians believe that Constantine became disheartened with the Roman paganism because it was being abandoned by so many, and no longer served as a unifying force in the Empire. Actually, it never was adopted by the Eastern Empire, which spoke Greek, rather than adopting Latin.


Constantine was searching for a new religion that most Romans could rally around. Other foreign religions did not have universal appeal. Mithraism was popular among the military and some of the upper classes, but was too much a warrior cult to gain broad appeal. And the Isis Cult out of Egypt contained a lot of striking similarities to the redemption and resurrection story of Christianity, but was tagged as a woman's religion, since most of its followers were middle class and upper class women.


Christianity had the broadest base of support, but it is estimated that only about 10% of Rome was Christian at the time Constantine made a very pragmatic, calculating decision to make Rome a Christian Empire......and the rest, like they say is history!


And none of these groups were persecuted especially hard at all.  Nowhere near as hard as the Christians under Nero, et. al.  They just didn't have a good enough message for their followers to rally round.



I don't find the message you believe in all that compeling, so I put them all in the same basket. Certainly, people who followed these other Christian sects found them compeling enough to put up with persecution, ostracism and pogroms. The difference is that the persecution of early Christianity ended by the 4th Century, but persecution of the splinter sects never ended! I can see this as especially being a problem for Jewish Christians like the Ebionites, who were persecuted by Orthodox Christians for rejecting the Trinity and the divinity of Jesus, and by Jews who rejected Christianity altogether. There was no way for them to be able to survive at a time when having wrong beliefs was life-threatening.


I am pretty sure that the Church at Jerusalem pretty much disbanded after the fall of Jerusalem in the first century, so there was no strong Church there to assume leadership.


Right!  I thought about that after I posted it. Jerusalem was largely an abandoned city after the destruction of the Temple in 70 A.D. But from early Christian writings, the Jerusalem Church was still considered the authoriative center until Jews were outnumbered by Gentile Christians.


The Churches at Antioch and Alexandria were the major theological centers of Christianity in the early centuries.  The Church of Jerusalem simply wasn't around and the Ebionites dispersed.  Can we detect the hand of God here, abandoning the heretics in Jerusalem and favoring the Orthodox in Antioch?



I mentioned previously that there were Ebionites on the island of Cyprus until the 5th Century, and other small communities may have been around till the year 1000. 


Now, if you see the hand of God at work in the destruction of Jerusalem, would you consider the hand of God also being at work in the destruction of Antioch and the conversion of Asia Minor to Islam? Same question for Alexandria?


And remember, the center of political power was in Constantinopal, not Rome.  If you want to decry imperial Christianity, it is Orthodoxy you must attack, not Roman Catholicism.  I disown the RCC just as much as you do.



And was God's judgment at work in the sacking of Constantinople, and the decline of Eastern Orthodoxy into little balkanized sects?

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