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View Diary: US Christians Face Judgment by Christ - a sermon (176 comments)

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  •  Wow, I don't usually agree with Marcus Borg, (4.00)
    at least not with his historical Jesus approach (which I find to be grounded far more in speculation than in history), but he's right on the money regarding the focus of Christianity historically.

    My own area of specialization is early Eastern and Byzantine church history.  Just read the sermons of a bishop such as John Chrysostom and you'll see the focus on love and justice.  This focus, combined with a deep interest in traditional theology (God as Trinity, Jesus Christ as human and divine), were the main foci of most Christian discourse for half of the Church's history, later shifting in the West to issues of sacramental theology, etc.

    Interestingly, John Chrysostom (late fourth/early fifth-century deacon in Antioch and then archbishop of Constantinople), one of the most biblically literal of early Christian theologians -- most in the East eschewed literalism in favor of allegory -- would be appalled at the level of biblical literalism dominant in certain areas of American evangelical Protestantism today.  He made fun of those who thought that God had actually taken a rib from Adam to make Eve.  Likewise, Basil the Great (bishop of Caesarea in the late fourth century) would be astounded to learn that some Christians interpret the word "day" literally in the creation account of Genesis 1.

    Maybe what we Christian liberals need to do is start a movement for "traditional" Christianity that is rooted in the Church's history rather than these newfangled interpretations of Scripture that have no grounding either in reality or in the theological tradition of the Church.

    Oh, yeah, I'm Greek Orthodox.  We've been doing this for almost two thousand years now. <g>

    I do not suffer fools gladly

    by GreekGirl on Tue Nov 30, 2004 at 02:32:24 AM PST

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    •  yeah (none)
      I like to call it "the pre modern movement".

      I know that this sounds kinda "anti science" but not's about returning to faith and not being the literalist that we have today.

      Ironically, the funamentalist movement tries to argue against modernity by using modern tools.  The return I espouse is about returning to a greater use of allegory in search of greater "truths" than can be found in a strict, rigid literalist interpretation.

      It's quite a simple arguement and theology in reality.

      Jesus used parables.  Parables weren't literally true, but were figuratively true to point out a great truth.

      Just remember...people are always more important than ideas.

      by circuithead on Tue Nov 30, 2004 at 06:54:11 AM PST

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      •  Allegory was the earliest Christian method (none)
        of biblical interpretation, arising in the Hellenistic community in Alexandria.  The first to use it to great effect, the brilliant theologian Origen in the early third century, picked it up from the first-century Jewish philosopher Philo, who adapted Platonic philosophy to allegorize the Torah/Penteteuch (the first five books of the Hebrew Scriptures, i.e., the "books of Moses").

        Origen was more cautious in his use of Platonic philosophy than Philo, and, a century and a half later, the Cappadocian Fathers were even more cautious than Origen had been.  (Origen and some of his ideas were condemned in the mid-sixth century, but I have a special affection for him and don't think he should have been held to later standards of orthodoxy.)

        I always find it ironic -- and depressing -- that all these modern-day Christian fundamentalists who think Scripture is "self-interpreting" conveniently ignore the fact that the earliest Christians interpreted Scripture entirely differently than these self-righteous boobs do today.  And, in their ignorance and audacity, it doesn't seem to bother them at all to discount people like Irenaeus of Lyons or Origen, who were only two or three generations removed from Christ and his apostles themselves.  But, of course, these American fundamentalist Protestants living two thousand years later know better. <g>

        I do not suffer fools gladly

        by GreekGirl on Tue Nov 30, 2004 at 10:31:50 AM PST

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