Mod+ 275. MARK VERNON, IS CHRISTIANITY WORTH SAVING?

Discussion in 'Skeptiko Shows' started by Alex, May 12, 2015.

  1. Brian_the_bard

    Brian_the_bard Lost Pilgrim Member

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    It's good that many politically minded people are peace loving so we know from this that politics doesn't have to lead to war.
    I believe that:
    It's good that many religious people are peace loving so we know from this that religion doesn't have to lead to war.

    The Bible is, admittedly, a haven of confirmation bias and those who believe in war will find an excuse for it, usually buried in the first five books of the OT (Darn that Moses bloke!) but really, if you were to read the NT for yourself (which gives the full picture of how a Christian is supposed to live) I would consider you a very clever sophist indeed if you could find such an excuse. "Religion" is far too controlling and I have had major difficulties with churches fully accepting me because my understanding of the Bible differed from theirs and I have also been totally ignored by "Christians" when I was crying my eyes out in church, close to a complete breakdown, but that hasn't stopped me from pursuing what I believe to be true.
     
  2. Laird

    Laird Member

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    Am interested to know more about this occasion if you feel at all like sharing... and if not publicly, would welcome a PM.
     
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  3. Brian_the_bard

    Brian_the_bard Lost Pilgrim Member

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    I'll get back to you sometime on this. I need to gather my memories.
     
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  4. David Eire

    David Eire New

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    "The Bible is, admittedly, a haven of confirmation bias"
    An excellent description - agree 100%
    To my perception the teachings of Jesus in the NT are not compatible with the OT
    and I have never understood why Christians cling to that abominable old book
     
  5. north

    north Member

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    The Marcionist "heretics" agreed.

    "Marcionism thus rejected the Old Testament God, claiming that Jesus represented the true sovereign God who was different from the God of the Hebrew people."
     
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  6. Brian_the_bard

    Brian_the_bard Lost Pilgrim Member

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    I can see why. This is partly why I believe the revelation of God in the Bible is progressive. The God of Moses very often seems entirely different from the God of the prophets who resembles Jesus far more closely. The Messianic prophesies of Isaiah are like reading the Gospels in more detail so I wouldn't personally split it so cleanly into OT/NT but the point is a reasonable one.
     
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  8. chotki

    chotki Member

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    Conversations about the Bible are, admittedly, havens of confirmation bias.

    The Church has "clung" to the OT because in the Gospels Jesus himself says that the OT spoke of him. Regardless of how one interprets either the historical provenance or the intertextual significance of such statements, the Christian tradition very early recognized that Marcionism was an illusory "easy out" that would impoverish one's understanding of Jesus' message and of the NT. The kerygma of the early church was, and would remain, indecipherable if the OT were to be jettisoned as a crucial source.

    That "abominable" book (collection of books, rather), meanwhile:

    • States at the outset in Genesis 1 that all human beings are created to be God's image-bearers, and not just royal figures alone. This "democratization" of the divine image was a radical break from the standard religio-political conceptions of the ancient world. See J. Richard Middleton, The Liberating Image: The Imago Dei in Genesis 1.
    • Contains, as David Noel Freedman of Harvard University pointed out, the only pointed criticisms of monarchy to be found in the literature of the Ancient Near East (See 1 Samuel 8 among a plethora of passages)
    • Is a collection of dissonant voices, in which predominant testimonies are counterpoised with minority reports - conventional wisdom of Proverbs vs. the radical questioning of Job
    • A profound social justice witness in the prophets that has inspired modern figures like MLK Jr. (fond of quoting Amos 5: "Let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like a never-failing stream."
    Is there a lot of "bad stuff" in there, as well? I'm not a fundamentalist, so it's easy to say of course there is. But fundamentalism is itself a product of modernity, and many early prominent Christian theologians who rejected the Marcionite option did not simply assent to bare, literal historicism either. Both Origen, the first major theologian, and Gregory of Nyssa, one of the architects of Trinitarian orthodoxy, rejected literal interpretations of the Canannite genocide as not worthy of God. Augustine of Hippo, perhaps a fount of evil for many, could only accept the OT because Ambrose of Milan opened to him the possibility of multiple levels of interpretation. Thus he wrote in the Confessions:

    For some helpful, non-fundamentalist approaches to the OT, I could recommend:

    Joshua Berman, Created Equal: How the Bible Broke with Ancient Political Thought

    Walter Brueggemann, Theology of the Old Testament: Testimony, Dispute, Advocacy

    Ellen Davis, Getting Involved with God: Rediscovering the Old Testament

    Gregory Boyd, The Crucifixion of the Warrior God (2 volumes)

    Gary A. Anderson, Christian Doctrine and the Old Testament: Theology in the Service of Biblical Exegesis

    Samuel D. Fohr, Adam and Eve: The Spiritual Symbolism of Genesis and Exodus

    Timothy Scott, Symbolism of the Ark: Universal Symbolism of the Receptacle of Divine Immanence

    The latter two are "perennialist" authors who point out cross-cultural parallels in service of spiritual interpretation of OT texts. For a robust defense of the legitimacy of reading a text on multiple levels (which was really the norm in the ancient world, not our modern restricted literalism), one could consult the four volumes of Henri de Lubac's Medieval Exegesis.

    On a more popular level, and while not agreeing with everything he said, I like how Baptist pastor Michael Spencer put it in a web article years ago: that the Bible can be read not as a straightforward instruction manual, but as A Conversation in God's Kitchen.
     
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2017

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