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View Diary: Why Do Fundy Christians Love the Rich and Hate the Poor? (324 comments)

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  •  The Puritan belief in predestination plays (33+ / 0-)

    critical role in these beliefs. To Puritans, god's bestowing of wealth and blessings on you was a sign that you were among the select, among the saved.

    •  There is actually an intellectual consistency to (13+ / 0-)

      predestination:  If you believe in an all-powerful diety that knows the past, present, and future, then it only makes sense that he has it all planned out.  Our lives then really aren't our own - we are simply an audience to whom god is slowly revealing his wisdom in what is little more than a really awesome theatrical production.  We each experience a part in this revelation, but our rolls are assigned by god and not to be questioned.

      I think it is all bunk, but if you truly believe in an all-powerful diety that can see past, present, and future, predestination makes sense.

      To any wingnut: If you pay my taxes I'll give you a job.

      by ban48 on Thu Dec 27, 2012 at 04:25:46 PM PST

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      •  Well, not exactly. (3+ / 0-)

        Predestination is more like being a parent of a little child.

        If you are around little children, you can pretty predict that if you put a bright red ball on top of a table and tell your four year old to leave it alone, then walk into the other room, you can bet your bottom dollar that iwthin a minute of leaving, you'll hear the ball hit the floor.

        The little child will reach for the ball, because that's what little children do.  We as adults will sin because that's our shiny red ball.

        Predestination does not preclude free will.  We still make our own decisions  But God, in his perfect knowledge, knows us well enough to know which decisions we will choose to make.

        •  so if this god knows I will make bad choices (7+ / 0-)

          and not be a believer, then he allows me to be born knowing he is sending me to an eternal hell?

        •  Free will is an illusion if the outcome is known (5+ / 0-)

          by god beforehand.  And if god doesn't know the outcome, he isn't omnipotent.  You can try to mix the two concepts all you want and/or shrug it off as a divine mystery (as most people do), but that is just punting on an inconsistency and trying to have it both ways.  If it is predetermined, you are just along for the ride.  You are strapped into a roller coaster but think you are driving because, you know, that god puts on one heck of a show!

          Besides, what good is theater without an antagonist.  If you truly believe in predetermination, then hating a murderer is analogous to hating an actor for portraying a murderer.  After all, god is simply revealing life in all of its beauty and horror, and someone needs to play the bad-guy.

          Again, I think this is all bunk, and I am an atheist.  But there is a logical consistency to it that I'm sure many find appealing.

          To any wingnut: If you pay my taxes I'll give you a job.

          by ban48 on Thu Dec 27, 2012 at 07:12:13 PM PST

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          •  This is not the point at all (1+ / 0-)
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            Just because you can know an outcome doesn't mean you control the people involved.  

            If I show a tea partier a racist cartoon about Pres Obama, I absolutely know he/she will laugh.  If I show the same cartoon to a progressive, the progressive will not laugh.  

            Does that mean the racist does not have free will?  

            •  If one is omnipotent... (0+ / 0-)

              ...then not acting is acting. Just because God is trying to pass responsibility off on someone else doesn't mean he's not responsible if indeed he's ominipotent.

            •  If you stab someone in the heart, what they think (1+ / 0-)
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              is irrelevant.  They have no free will in the situation, they just die.

              Same thing for the racist and the cartoon.  If you train your mind to immediately react to stimuli a predictable manner, you are removing your free will.  So yes, the racist in this situation lacks free-will because he can be made to laugh on-command given a picture.  What do you think the whole point of racism is?  It is to replace free-will with knee-jerk reaction and create a mindless following.

              Predestination sits well with people like this because they already lack will-power in many situations.  Thanks for the example :)

              To any wingnut: If you pay my taxes I'll give you a job.

              by ban48 on Fri Dec 28, 2012 at 12:06:05 PM PST

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        •  A parent is not like a God (1+ / 0-)
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          Only Needs a Beat

          even children figure that out by the time they're 7 or eight. A parent doesn't control the universe, or even his or her own destiny much of the time.

          "All governments lie, but disaster lies in wait for countries whose officials smoke the same hashish they give out." --I.F. Stone

          by Alice in Florida on Thu Dec 27, 2012 at 08:03:47 PM PST

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      •  Of course if he's the all-knowing sort (0+ / 0-)

        why does he bring down such horrors upon the Jews? I mean the least he could have done is give them better hygiene advice in Leviticus. Michael Moore did a brilliant job of satirizing this in one of his communiques here. If anyone has it or remembers it, please post. It's a riot.

        I never liked you and I always will.

        by Ray Blake on Thu Dec 27, 2012 at 06:03:17 PM PST

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      •  Being able to know past, present, and future (0+ / 0-)

        is one thing ... it's another thing to be directing the course of events.  I'm intrigued by that physicists are pondering regarding the possibility of multiple realities, and what this might mean regarding free will.  

        Plutocracy (noun) Greek ploutokratia, from ploutos wealth; 1) government by the wealthy; 2) 21st c. U.S.A.; 3) 22nd c. The World

        by bkamr on Fri Dec 28, 2012 at 12:31:31 AM PST

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    •  Bingo -- it's tightly wedded to anxiety about (9+ / 0-)

      whether one is one of the "elect" or not -- hence the emphasis on worldly goods & success as a sign of God's approval.  It ties in very nicely with the God of the early Old Testament who rewarded the Israelites if they were faithful to him and the Covenant but who deserted or punished them if they were not -- a pretty primitive conception of the deity.   (Can you say, "Huckabee"?)  Of course, it totally ignores the other emphasis in the prophets about the duty of the rich toward the poor (e.g., the parable about the original Lazarus and the rich man).   And obviously it ignores massive amounts of Jesus's message in the Gospels.  

           I'm probably biased by original training (16 years of Catholic school) even though I'm now a Buddhist, but the basic Catholic position of salvation through good works seems SOOOO much more humane and consistent with the Gospels, even if it is philosophically somewhat more muddled*  and became so perverted with the commercialization of indulgences and the acquisition of so much land and wealth by Church institutions.  Protestantism rid Christianity of much corruption, but I don't think it did Western man any favors with its rather morose emphasis on Predestination.  

      *Both Augustine & Acquinas acknowledged that predestination is an inescapable implication of belief in an all-powerful, all-knowing deity.  But the Church just sort of filed away that philosophizing and kept promoting the idea that men could earn salvation -- with the help of God'd grace, of course -- through performance of good works.  I remember in grade school being taught that every human being at one time or another was freely given by God enough grace to allow him or her to live a good enough life to be saved.  Long way from Jonathan Edwards.  

      •  However this is a very Catholic (5+ / 0-)

        belief.  Rejection of a belief in salvation through works was at the heart of the Protestant movement.  The Protestants believed, and still believe, in salvation through grace alone.  In the eyes of Protestants, good works simply flow from our gratitude to God for grace.  

      •  But the Protestants believe there is only (1+ / 0-)
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        Killer of Sacred Cows

        salvation through faith, not works.

        I never liked you and I always will.

        by Ray Blake on Thu Dec 27, 2012 at 06:04:54 PM PST

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        •  Not exactly (2+ / 0-)

          There is a debate about faith vs. works in the New Testament, and every Protestant church I attended covered the issue heavily.  The conclusion was always that both are important.

          Nothing is as evilly imaginative as the mind of a teenage gamer. -- Sychotic1

          by Sarea on Thu Dec 27, 2012 at 06:50:12 PM PST

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          •  Paul writes in Galatians 2:16 (2+ / 0-)
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            Sarea, Only Needs a Beat
            "Yet we know that a person is justified not by the works of the law but through faith in/of Jesus Christ. And we have come to believe in Christ Jesus, so that we might be justified by faith in/of Christ, and not by doing the works of the law, because no one will be justified by the works of the law."
            I realize that there's some disagreement about that, based I guess, on a statement by James, but "faith, not works" seems to be a mantra among Christians I know.

            I never liked you and I always will.

            by Ray Blake on Thu Dec 27, 2012 at 07:25:00 PM PST

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            •  I'm sure that is your experience but its not mine (0+ / 0-)

              I was raised a pastors kid and attended different Protestant churches and congregations (some non denominational) all my life until a few years ago.  Maybe you know lots of people from one specific tradition?

              Nothing is as evilly imaginative as the mind of a teenage gamer. -- Sychotic1

              by Sarea on Thu Dec 27, 2012 at 07:32:56 PM PST

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              •  Yeah, they tend to be Foursquare evangelicals (1+ / 0-)
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                though they do perform works, regardless of their belief that salvation is through faith alone. What's the work around for Galatians 2:16, btw? Paul seems to have been pretty clear on this.

                I never liked you and I always will.

                by Ray Blake on Thu Dec 27, 2012 at 07:42:45 PM PST

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                •  Conflicting opinions in the NT, (0+ / 0-)

                  Just like the "workarounds" for everything else in the Bible.  Galatians verse you cute says you need faith to be justified, and there are multiple interpretations of what it means to be justified, exactly (otherwise why not use the word salvation, if salvation is what you mean).

                  Some people don't believe that Paul was the ultimate authority, especially since he's likely not the author of some of the works attributed to him.  

                  Also as you mentioned, "faith without works is dead."

                  Nothing is as evilly imaginative as the mind of a teenage gamer. -- Sychotic1

                  by Sarea on Thu Dec 27, 2012 at 07:58:32 PM PST

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                  •  There's always the matter of translation as well (1+ / 0-)
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                    What's the Greek for salvation and justification? Is there a distinction? Aren't Christians saved when they accept Jesus as their savior? James gives the example that faith is dead if you don't help the destitute. Paul is talking about the law, but this seems to be another example of the Paul/Peter split. Paul wants to save the gentiles and doesn't want the law to be a barrier. James is old school Jerusalem, like Peter. And I suspect, more like Jesus.

                    I never liked you and I always will.

                    by Ray Blake on Thu Dec 27, 2012 at 08:59:01 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  The book of James was possibly written by (0+ / 0-)

                      James, the brother of Jesus.  This is not a certainty, but James was the leader of the Jerusalem church after the death of his brother, and the book of James teaches a Christianity that is based on Judaism, as was Jesus' teachings.  James' salvation by good works reflects what Jesus taught.  Paul's salvation by faith alone does not.  

                      Paul had very little to say about Jesus.  He never met Jesus in life.  His only (alleged) contact with Jesus was in a vision.  Only Paul knows for sure whether or not he had that vision, and God only knows if it was the result of a divine revelation or a psychological or physical trauma to the brain of Paul.

                      Visions are very convenient devices for one who claims a "revelation," especially when the revelation contradicts real life.

                      In real life Jews (and Jewish Christians) were bound by the dietary laws of Moses.  But Peter had what?  A vision.  The vision authorized Christians to eat what theretofore had been prohibited.  Peter was the only witness to this vision, and although it contradicted everything that Jewish Christians had been taught in real life, it was accepted by gentile Christians as authoritative, and the beliefs of Jewish Christians were slowly marginalized to the point of demonization of the Jews by gentile Christians.

                      The gospels would be much more persuasive to me had they been written somewhat contemporaneously with Jesus - or Paul, for that matter, by Jewish Christians who worshipped much like Jesus, rather than decades later - the gospel of John 90 years later - by Greek-speaking gentile Christians.  

                      That's a lot of time to decide whether to document only words spoken by Jesus as passed down by oral tradition in his own community, or whether to supplement them to reflect faith as it existed at the time and in the communities in which the gospels were written.

                      And who the hell is Grover Norquist???

                      by ZedMont on Fri Dec 28, 2012 at 11:06:45 AM PST

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      •  Actually, Aquinas "solved" the problem by (1+ / 0-)
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        having God exist at all points in time simultaneously.  Since the very concept of predestination requires (more or less) linear time by removing that limitation from God the paradox is solved.  Of course, it does create others such as how can a being change/evolve (like from the OT to the NT) without experiencing time unless there is some kind of "meta-time" involved.

        You have watched Faux News, now lose 2d10 SAN.

        by Throw The Bums Out on Thu Dec 27, 2012 at 10:13:05 PM PST

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      •  do you know how (3+ / 0-)

        those who believe in affluence as a mark of the elect handle changes in a person's circumstances? If you had stuff and lost it (through natural disaster, let's posit), were you not truly elect when it appeared that you were? Alternatively, if you come into money after being poor, which lifestyle reflects God's true perception of you?

    •  A belief which quickly became the idea that (1+ / 0-)
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      Only Needs a Beat

      if you were wealthy, you were virtuous.

      And if you were poor, you were not.

      Which was further twisted into the idea the the pursuit of wealth, by any and all means, was virtuous.

      Which was not at all what Calvin meant.

      Freedom has two enemies: Those who want to control everyone around them...and those who feel no need to control themselves.

      by Sirenus on Fri Dec 28, 2012 at 07:30:46 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

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