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View Diary: Shocking Video: Morning Joe Crew Hammers Rev. Franklin Graham (265 comments)

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  •  A bad aspect of the "academmic environment" (0+ / 0-)

    First, I'm skeptical that there is such a monolithic entity as "mainstream Christianity" that you posit.
    As for having differing concepts on "the nature of man, the nature of God, the concept of the Trinity, of salvation or grace, the definition of heaven, the concept of sacraments" -- Quakers differ from "mainstream" Christians on all of these points; are these not Christians either?  What about ancient Christians such as the Gnostics?  The Marcionites?  Hell, even the Nestorian Christians?  Do we have to toss all of them out too?
    In brief -- I'm an academic myself, but I am very wary of the academic practice of insisting that people fit our categories and formulas before we accept their right to define what they are for themselves.  This seems to me not like intellectual clarity, but pedantry-- or worse, when it may inadvertently play into prejudice and exclusion.

    •  But the problem is (0+ / 0-)

      that you cannot communicate.

      Do Christians believe in the Trinity?  Apparently not.  Do they believe that God created the universe (directly or indirectly), including man?  Apparently not.  Do they believe man was born with original sin?  Apparently not.  

      If you cannot use the term Christian to generally describe a set of beliefs, you have to be able to name them, without including people who don't have a single major belief in common.

      If the term "Christian" includes the LDS, then it doesn't mean anything, because the only thing they have in common is that both religions believe Jesus existed.  That's it.  It would be like saying a motorcycle is a car, because you don't want to be "pendantic".  If the motorcycle wants to be called a car, it should be allowed to.  But I can assure you that it would be mass confusion if you couldn't identify which vehicle you're talking about if you had to use the term car to apply to both.

      As for Quakers, I know quite a few Quakers, and the ones I know don't refer to themselves as Christians.

      The problem is that too many people (in my view) in this country think of Chrstian as good, and to say some religion isn't Christian is tantamount to making a disparaging comment.  It's not.

      •  Okay let's play this game (0+ / 0-)

        Christians:  Monotheists who believe that Jesus Christ was sent to earth by the one God in order to be the savior of humankind.
        In my view, that's as good a definition as one can get, IF it's necessary to impose a definition at all.  The important thing is that "Christian" is more of a social identity that people apply and use in their lives, not an object like a motorcycle.  Pretending that the term has a more objective, absolute definition might seem convenient, but it is distorting.

        -"Do Christians believe in the Trinity?"  No, not necessarily.  That doctrine was cooked up by Tertullian in the third century.  Christians did not generally believe in it before then, and many still do not today.  Here are 26 Christian groups that do not subscribe to Trinitarianism:

        -"Do they believe that God created the universe (directly or indirectly), including man?"  The Gnostics and the Cathars did not.  Are you siding with Irenaeus and Bernard of Clairvaux, and pronouncing them to be heretics and not real Christians?

        -"Do they believe that man was born with original sin?"  Eastern Orthodox Christians don't, so I guess you'll have to take that one up with the Patriarch:

        The meaning and beliefs of Christianity are not consistent across time or space.  They are constantly in dispute and up for debate.  To pretend that there is some set of core axioms of "real" Christianity is to intervene and take sides in those debates, even if unintentionally.  The most honest approach, in my view, is to accept variety and ambiguity.  If it is impossible to axiomatize such a seemingly simple system as arithmetic, then how can it be possible to axiomatize a religion?  

        •  I agree with a lot of what you say (0+ / 0-)

          and you are raising great points.

          It is dicey to talk about whether Christianity has evolved over time in such a way that it is intrinsically different from the early church beliefs to such an extent that it no longer the same religion.  I totally agree with you that is an issue that can be debated.  

          I also agree with you that trying to define "christianity" from day one, when so many different takes on things existed, amounts to pedantry.  There was no set of written dogma and no system of theology.

          However, by your own definition of Christians, LDS doesn't fit because they do not believe in "the one God", but rather that each man is a little god.  God is only a bigger version.

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