Talk:Christianity/Archive 1

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Note: This page contains discussions from 2001, in fact as early as January of that year, and was the Wikipedia's first talk page. It can also be found on the Nostalgia Wikipedia at its original title, ChristianityTalk; the page's original header explained its eventual purpose. In 2001 the Christianity page effectively had two talk pages; the later and regular one was originally at Christianity/Talk (now Talk:Christianity) and its archives begin at Talk:Christianity/Archive 2. Graham87 09:33, 12 April 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Commentary: Generally, Christianity, Judaism and Islam are exemplary of a modern conception of "western" faith, in contrast to "eastern" disciplines. Older "western" religious traditions, those being the pagan traditions of Norse, Celtic, Germanic and other generally European peoples, the polytheistic traditions of Greece and Rome, and New World animistic aboriginal practices, seem to have largely died out in developed areas, notwithstanding a minor contemporary revival of such observances as Druidism and Wicca.

In contrast, the oldest "eastern" disciplines anyone has been able to detect are still in practice within their original geographical regions today.

Why would that be?

A cursory glance immediately reveals a marked difference in the nature of the use of authority between "eastern" and "western" belief systems. Where the Sons of Abraham, in all their various stripes, tend toward authoritarianism and exclusivity with regard to religious rites, the various eastern traditions tend toward democracy and inclusiveness. One will very rarely find in eastern religious thought, threats of damnation, generally, one will not find claims to sole possession of all and every religious truth. Nor will one find in western traditional religious scripture the slightest hint that other belief than the one at issue could be be given the slightest credence. Add to this the fact that Catholicism historically had government sanction, power of taxation, military might and punitive authority for a substantial block of time in history, and one can begin to see how an interesting paradox developed.

Western religionists, being authoritarian, exclusive, and having military might, tended to stamp out their competition through slaughter or threat thereof, while eastern religionists have enjoyed governmental favor from time to time, but have not historically converted their fellow man at sword point. By geographic coincidence, mechanization and its resulting period of "enlightenment" proceeded more quickly and broadly in the west than in the east. Inquiry in the physical sciences, fomented by the forces of mechanization, laid the groundwork for objective observation and its resulting egalitarian views, all the way back to early Greek philosophers.

As a result, democratic societies grew up in largely Christian areas, though Christianity is undemocratic; and totalitarian societies (save middle-east theocracies) tend to be anti-religious or to co-exist with the eastern observances which pre-dated them, though eastern religious thought and political democracy are a perfect match. The devout eastern student has learned tolerance, non-resistance, cooperation, disavowal of material wealth; and such principles as that revenge is base and unseemly, given that evil and corruption contain their own punishment. So he is more easily held down under an authoritarian scheme. Western scripture contains exhortations to rise up and smite non-believers and the unjust, to convert others to the one proper faith, and that various misdeeds should be remedied by putting the miscreant to death. Western believers, therefore, are able to justify their faith in forceful conversion and slaughter.

The remnants of this paradoxical dichotomy still color the world political landscape. It is the religious fundamentalists, those whom one would most quickly identify with moral uprightness, who are popularly seen as least charitable, least forgiving, and most rigid, vengeful, and intolerant. For instance, they support prohibitory laws on moral grounds, harsh punishments for moral crimes, war to defend religious ideals and holy places, and sanction the institutional killing of human beings, in keeping with scripture. The left, commonly the target of epithets regarding hedonism, license and moral decay, nonetheless turn out the be the champions of inclusion, equality, open government and common rights. Go figure.

The above is not to assign a value judgment one way or the other as to which type of system is "right" or even "best," but merely an observation from where I sit in the cheap seats...


-This is generalization at its very best AyeSpy. Particularly, the lumping of all Western religions together and attributing to them the sins of a few. Then you completely ignored the strict laws and harsh punishments in many eastern religions. Plus, your reference to the left (which had no support whatsoever in your arguement) showed that indeed this was a value judgement, and an extremely biased one at that! Dave

I should say that I'm not a very widely read student of faith, and I'm certainly anything but religious, but I must say the above is one of the more profound insights I've read in a long time... It makes me wonder:

Western society tends to be much less forgiving of immoral actions than of anti-authority ones. In eastern society, is this reversed? For instance, that Clinton had sex out of wedlock was a scandal, but that protestors heckled Bush's inauguration is kinda considered par for the course and essentially ignored since "it's normal." In eastern society, would the reactions have been reversed? Would sexual picadillos be considered a mild curiousity, but a public denouncement of the authority be considered the scandal?

Second, I wonder if the contrasting ways are, in a sense, required for the society to function? I.e., humans must have both fluid freedom and firm structure, and those can be in either politics or religion, but the situation is not stable if both are fluid or both are firm?

-- BryceHarrington

The contributions of religions to a moral code for humans is significant. The authoritarian self-promotion of some spokespersons as privileged interpreters of GoD is incredible, ie. not to be believed. The solace provided to many victims of abuse can't justify the abuse done in the name of God.

-- DickBeldin

I just removed this comment:
(although not as the enternal Son of God)
from this sentence:
Several other faiths, which also believe in Jesus Christ 
(although not as the enternal Son of God), claim not to be  
descended from either of these groups directly.
because it directly contradicts what the page about the LDS
church (and the LDS church itself) claim.
I also removed this paragraph:
It's important to note that marginal groups - such as Mormons,  
Jehovah's Witnesses, or Unitarians - are not generally 
considered evangelical or orthodox. Marginal groups do not have 
the same view of Biblical completeness, inerrancy or Jesus' 
divinity as mainstream churches. They are generally included in 
tables of Christianity as "marginal Christian groups"; 
researchers classify them under Christianity because they have 
more in common with Christianity than any non-Christian 
religious tradition.
Because it's incomplete and non-neutral, and rephrased this 
paragraph to be more specific:

Many people belonging to the above-listed faiths have strong feelings about the legitimacy of the other Christian faiths, sometimes even claiming that the other faiths do not actually count as Christian. These claims usually rely on more specialized definitions of "Christianity" than an outsider might assume, entailing points of doctrine which are critical to the objecting faith's view, such as belief in the doctrine of the Holy Trinity (an agreement on the nature of God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit reached in 325AD) or the doctrine called "Biblical inerrancy" (a specific set of beliefs regarding the nature of the Bible). Catholics and Protestants in particular may consider these beliefs critical to "real" Christianity, and may thus (rightly) exclude churches such as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Jehova's Witnesses, who differ on these views (but feature Jesus Christ as a central part of their belief system, and consider themselves Christian). Others, such as the Universal Unitarians (is this true? are there others which belong here?), consider themselves as borderline Christians, since Jesus Christ is not pivotal to their belief system.

Is that any better?

I moved this from talk:Christianity because the distinction between Christendom and Christocentric approaches isn't really objective, it's partisan -- almost all of so-called "Christendom" believes themselves to be Christocentric, and what right do we have to say that they do not believe what they say they believe? And talk of "State christianity" (the church after Constantine) is very biased towards Protestantism, and against the Catholic church. And also it's a very long comment for a talk page. -- Simon J Kissane

I think it would be good to make a distinction between Christendom and Christocentric approaches to following Jesus (on the front page). I note that most references on the Christianity page are derived from Christendom, and this is likely to misrepresent a genuine Christocentric approach to Chrsitianity.

Most of our mainstream expressions of faith in Christ are actually derived from Christendom (the state endorsed version 312 AD onwards). Cristocentric expressions of faith have been less well preserved because the winners usually write the history books. Dr Stuart Murray of Spurgeons college london writes extensively on these topics ("The Losers Guide To Church History"

The distinction is reflected in the traditional creeds used by churches. While refering to Jesus, his birth, his death and resurrection, his teachings and life is conspicuously absent. This is because his teachings were basically subversive from the point of view of running an empire (Constantine et al).

The Anabaptist movement is an example of a group that arose independantly of Rome. Welsh Celtic Christianity was also established in the UK before Augustine landed in Britain.

In todays faith communities there are distinctions that might be expressed as follows. These categories represent a brainstorm as opposed to any rigourous academic classicifation. Paul the appostle warns to watch out for those preaching "A different Jesus", "A different Holy Spirit" and "A different gospel", and this has been traditional in defining orthodoxy.

Attitude to Jesus.

(J1) Jesus is God, and Jesus as a Man is a lifestyle and ministry model for us today. ("as my father sent me I am sending you")

(J2) Jesus is God, but his lifestyle and ministry is primarily of historical importance, to aspire to live and minister like Jesus is idealised but essentially not anticipated result of faith in Christ.

(J3) Jesus is God, essentially divine in nature. To be worshipped as a deity, and appeased through ritual rather than related to as a fellow man.

(J4) Jesus is a creation of God, or God's "plan" made flesh--i.e.., he did not exist before his birth--and is essentially God-like ( [ Christadelphian ] )

(J5) Jesus is not God, is a man only (a Prophet [Islam], a "good" man Aethesim, Agnosticism, an enlightened man [New Age] )

(J6) Jesus is something else, (a spirit being brother of Lucifer [Mormons], a spirit being lives on Alpha Centuri [some New Age ideas (uri Geller?) ], an Angel [JWs])

Attitude to the Gospel

(G1) The Gospel is as G2, but it is presented with an additional public demonstration of power rather than as words alone.

(G2) The Gospel is a proclamation of "Good News" expressing Gods heart for people, for the poor, it is free, non-condemning, liberating (from sin), includes rescue from death, judgement, and free gift of salvation (eternal life in heaven), healing and deliverance.

(G3) as G2, but the Gospel, while promoting emotional well being is not generally expected to include physical healing.

(G4) as G2, but the Gospel is communicated silently through Good works and relationships, rather than overt proclamation.

(G5) The Gospel is characterised by turn or burn presentation, arguably presented without face to face expression of compassion.

(G6) The Gospel is an invitation to join a group or church for fellowship. Often supported by an initiation ceremony (e.g. Baptism)

(G7) The Gospel is for those that are "enlightened", and includes extra-biblical higher or esoteric knowledge. (e.g. Freemasonry, Kabalism, Gnosticism)

Attitude to the Holy Spirit

(HS1) The Holy Spirit is the manefestation of God (God is Spirit, God is Love) on earth inhabiting the hearts of men that have had a "second experience" having been baptised in the Holy Spirit (Acts 2 Pentacost). The Holy Spirit is a tangible presence ("the power was present to heal"). The Holy spirit is a Person (having will etc). the Holy Spirit is an ongoing supernatural daily experience of God. the Holy Spirit is the annointing or power to get the Job done. ("It is the annointing that breaks the yoke")

(HS2) As HS1 but the Holy Spirit is given once and for all to Believers at conversion. The "second experience" teaching is not accepted.

(HS3) As HS1 but the Holy Spirit is not experienced personally, felt tangibly or involved in power acts of healing etc.

(HS4) The Holy Spirit is not a person but a force, or an energy from God

(HS5) as HS4 but not related to God.

Attitude to Eternity

(E1) As E2, but faith in Christ needs to be put into practice with good deads. ("faith without works is dead")

(E2) Heaven Exists, Heaven is Perfect, Heaven is synonymous with God, Heaven is to be gained and is freely available. Hell exists, Hell is devoid of any God or for that matter Good, Hell is eternal, Hell is a place of Judgement, Hell is to be avoided. Entry to heaven is by faith (in Christ) and grace (free undeserved gift). Entry to heaven is guarenteed in advance.

(E3) As E2, but entry to heaven but entry is not based purely upon faith in Christ but rather is based upon "being a good person", and entry to hell is based upon "being a bad person"

(E4) as E3, but there is a waiting or punishment area, to pay for sins prior to entry. Entry to heaven is not garenteed

(E5) Heaven exists and is a "good-ish" place, open to all, and everyone goes there for eternity. There is no ruling deity. (Summerland - Spiritualism)

(E6) Heaven is for the enlightened or elite only [JWs]

(E7) Heaven is for the faithful, those who are members of an organisation, or followers of a person.

(E7) Heaven does not exist, either no salvation, annialiation or reincarnation.

Attitude to the Bible and other revelation of God

(B1) Is "THE Word of God", it has NO errors, what it says goes.

(B2) Is inspired by God, is inerrant (not erring from a path) and is wholly foundational in demonstrating the character of God through out history as reflected in the lives of people and their carefully written, and preserved revelations of God.

(B3) As B2, Jesus is "THE Word" of God, understanding the genuinely compassionate character of God demonstrated in Jesus (assisted by the Holy Spirit) is key to interpreting the Bible.

(B4) As B2, and B3 but in addition God speaks through prophecy and through all creation even today. New revelation must be carefully measured against the character of God and confirmed through multiple sources.

(B5) As B2, but new revelation has ceased and the cannon is sealed. (Extreme B5, only certain versions are accepted as the true texts.) [King James Only, JWs]

(B6) Objects to B1, indicates the Bible has "errors" and has been corrupted radically to the point of irrelevance to everyday study and application for life

(B7) Bible is important, but has been qualified by the addition of further interpretation in the form of a Catechism for application to daily life and service. [ Roman Catholicism ]

(B7) Bible is important, but has been superceeded by newer revelation, or contemporary publications that are preferred by readers [the teachings of the enlightened John class, JWs in the watchtower] [the sentinel - Christian Science] [ The book of Mormon ] [ the Quran ]

Attitude to Church

(C1) Is an unstructured spontaneous gathering of believers in any context.

(C2) Is a structured organisation of believers with appointed leaders that meets as on a regular basis

(C3) as C2 but organisation has specific dedicated buildings for worship, and appointed professional priests.

(C4) As C2, but embraces a community style of living together genuinely sharing belongings and finances.

(C5) Church not relevant to daily life

Attitute to ...

This is remarkably detailed information; you're obviously more knowledgeable in this subject than I daresay most people; is there any way you could integrate some of the above into the main article? I would try, but I don't feel I'd do a very good job of representing the issues fairly.

OK I think the way forward is to make a page to head up this "attitude classification scheme", then have a sub page for each classification dimension e.g."attitude to Jesus", and headings in there J1 J2 J3, with discussion pages for each attitude. Then in all the other pages under religion try and put annotation links in to the relevant attitudes! E.g. Christadelphian page would have links to J4, G6, HS4, C2 (perhaps) I personally would be a J1 G1 HS1 E1 B4 C1 Having done this the backlinks function of a wiki can find all references to particular view ponts. And this classification can be extended to give a bigger persective, covering the whole specttrum of religious beleif and experience, a wider number of topics, and debate upon the validity of the distinctions and their application. -- KeithHodges