Why is there suffering? Are belief and faith sufficient to meet the needs of 21st century problems? What about the historical record of Christianity and its practices of domination of women, accepting slavery as a social reality, depending on some mystical power to protect one from tsunamis and healing when life is so much more complex and needing firmer ground on which to stand? Can the Bible be a sufficient guide in matters poitical and economic?
Love him, love his books, so glad he's in NC, we need a few thousand more just like him in our schools and universities!
Have you seen and heard him in person? He seems to have a sense of humor that pricks ideologues. He makes good sense to me, asks the questions to which I seek answers, and digs deeply into languages to ferret out the best available evidence. He holds his own in debates, even when in hostile territory.
Joan. Topics/discussions like this always make me wonder what christianity? By that I mean, the type that has come down to the modern era, codified by a book that, at earliest, starting to take shape around 60-70 C.E., or from earlier writings of the sub-sect of judiasm at the time? Earlier writngs/oral history show that the first "christians" were very judaic in most of their beliefs. This has not survived into modern christianity. Very imminent in theology, that they would see the apocopalypse with their own eyes. They held property in common, eschewed wealth, actually thinking poverty was the preferred state of believers. They were much more concerned with the outcasts in a society than the good, righteous people.
Contrast that with what is accepted as 'historical' christianity. From canonical books that were being voted on by men (no women allowed), to debates of the nature of christ. Thus we get trinitarism, still not accepted to this day by some christian sects. And not in the bible as such. And the rapture, and the modern idea of prosperity gospel. Plus many, many, more. It seems that each generation is putting their own spin on christianity, no matter what has been held as belief before them. That is why, I believe, they can hold the view that slavery is wrong, but the power of prayer can heal. Why women and minorities can be oppressed, 2nd class people, but all are equal in the eyes of god.
The bible. A work of men. With different views, from different times, shaped by the society in which they lived. Just some of my rambling thoughts that come up whenever I hear 'historical' christanity. Be well, my friend.
Tony, I appreciate your question about "what christianity". Changes over time reveal religion is not a static thing, but something that changes as generations change and has unique characteristics around the world. How USA Christianity moved from concern for outcasts to a belief system of achievement oriented people is a mystery to me.
Religion itself is something that mystifies me. I have participated in Native American rituals in Washington state, and joined with robust celebration of songs in black church communities in Washington, D.C. I walked with Mexicans celebrating Las Posadas (lighting the way with candles for Joseph and Mary looking for lodging), and took part in purification rituals with Athabaskan Indians in Alaska. I joined animist ceremonies in Indonesia, and family Muslim rituals in Istanbul.
What does religion mean? What is its purpose? Why do people risk their lives and communities in defense of each particular belief system?
There are beautiful aspects of religion but a dark side looms in each and every one. I've read of the atrocities committed by Buddhists, and Hindus and other eastern religions have some bloody history. Very few preach, teach and practice peace and beauty and justice and equality.
All these different traditions are constructs created in the minds of men and women and follow traditions that come out of the deep, dark past when humans tried to explain natural events and find patterns in their lives. They even made up stories about constellations and stars. Remember the ancient Egyptian explanation of stars being holes in the ceiling of heaven.
These stories, often quaint, sometimes beautiful, often involve feasts and gatherings. It also creates an "us and them" mentality. Especially when one thinks of the the hierarchies, usually with some supreme being at the top of a pyramid, then man, then nature, and usually a hell thrown in below. They may be different in detail and alike in substance.
I agree, "historical christianity" is a fabrication as well. Thanks for your rambling thoughts.