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Mon Jul 15, 2019, 06:19 PM

 

I, as a Jewish guy, have a question about Christianity or, more specifically, fundamentalist

or evangelical Christianity. Not meaning to be provocative, a shit-stirrer or belligerent, but a couple responses to one of my posts about my Trump-humping Christian in-laws got me thinking about what one of my college philosophy profs told us. The topic was along the lines of, is a particular strain of philosophical thought really defined by its original principles, or rather is it defined by what its current adherents say it is?

Now again, I am NOT meaning to be provocative or insulting but I've had a lot of people recently tell me that the fundamentalist Christian #MAGA zealots are NOT true Christians, then go on to explain that this is so because they are not following the teachings of Jesus. I suppose this would not be unlike a Jew living in a way that was contrary to our scripture and faith traditions. Anyway, with such a huge (yuuge) percentage of professed Christians embracing Trumpism and the political far-right, does the definition of what makes one a Christian change? Does Donald Trump effectively become a Christian because a majority of Christians say he's one? Any input or thoughts are much appreciated. It's something I've been thinking about a lot lately.

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Reply I, as a Jewish guy, have a question about Christianity or, more specifically, fundamentalist (Original post)
Still In Wisconsin Jul 2019 OP
maxsolomon Jul 2019 #1
ck4829 Jul 2019 #2
yonder Jul 2019 #13
Blue_true Jul 2019 #3
alphafemale Jul 2019 #4
jberryhill Jul 2019 #10
Celerity Jul 2019 #21
jberryhill Jul 2019 #23
WhiskeyGrinder Jul 2019 #5
roody Jul 2019 #6
MrsMatt Jul 2019 #7
Mariana Jul 2019 #8
jberryhill Jul 2019 #9
Thomas Hurt Jul 2019 #11
elocs Jul 2019 #12
Hortensis Jul 2019 #14
Caliman73 Jul 2019 #15
gratuitous Jul 2019 #16
SidDithers Jul 2019 #17
keithbvadu2 Jul 2019 #18
harumph Jul 2019 #19
elocs Jul 2019 #20
LiberalFighter Jul 2019 #22
Karadeniz Jul 2019 #24

Response to Still In Wisconsin (Original post)

Mon Jul 15, 2019, 06:23 PM

1. Ah, the No True Scotsman Fallacy.

They worship Christ as the Messiah; they're Christian. All the rest is deck chairs on the Titanic.

BTW, they don't think Trump is a Christian, necessarily. They think God is working through him, like Cyrus freeing the Jews from Babylon.

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Response to Still In Wisconsin (Original post)

Mon Jul 15, 2019, 06:27 PM

2. I'm not a Christian, not an atheist either, but to me personally and I get the impression a lot of

people share this as well, so I don't think I'm alone when I say this:

There should be a spiritual or mystical element to religion, it should be something that transcends our mortal bodies, it should be beyond race, gender, and nation, and it should liberate us from social conventions and class constrictions.

These right wing evangelicals, you don't see any of that with them... they are all about power and wealth, help those who already have the means to help themselves, sell out religion to have a direct line to the oval office, supporting the status quo, cheerleaders for war, and more.

They are the most materialistic/physicalist SOBs I have ever seen.

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Response to ck4829 (Reply #2)

Mon Jul 15, 2019, 06:56 PM

13. +1.

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Response to Still In Wisconsin (Original post)

Mon Jul 15, 2019, 06:30 PM

3. ...

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Response to Still In Wisconsin (Original post)

Mon Jul 15, 2019, 06:31 PM

4. Well. It may be useful to know that certain fundamentalist Xtians have very bizarre ideas.

It's regarding "end times."

They tolerate Israel and Jewish people only because they believe it is necessary for the temple to be rebuilt and that will cause Jesus to return and when he comes back he will smite every Jewish man, woman and child dead.

No matter all their sweet words this particular breed of end timers probably hate Jewish people as much as Nazi's ever did.

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Response to alphafemale (Reply #4)

Mon Jul 15, 2019, 06:49 PM

10. The Nazi's were following Martin Luther's recommendations

 

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Response to jberryhill (Reply #10)

Mon Jul 15, 2019, 07:49 PM

21. Von den Juden und iren Lugen

On the Jews and Their Lies

Martin Luther

1543 CE



https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/luthers-jewish-problem/

Nuremberg, 1946

In 1946, Julius Streicher was on trial for his life. He had published the anti-Semitic newspaper Der Stürmer, and had been captured at the end of World War II. The Allies put him on trial alongside 23 other prominent Nazis at the International Military Tribunal in Nuremberg. During the trial Streicher was asked: “Witness, what aims did you pursue with your speeches and your articles in Der Stürmer?” Streicher replied:

I did not intend to agitate or inflame but to enlighten. Anti-Semitic publications have existed in Germany for centuries. . . . In the book The Jews and Their Lies, Dr. Martin Luther writes that the Jews are a serpent’s brood and one should burn down their synagogues and destroy them. Dr. Martin Luther would very probably sit in my place in the defendants’ dock today, if this book had been taken into consideration by the Prosecution.

Streicher was a propagandist who devoted his life to spreading slander and falsehood, but on this occasion he was telling the truth.

Wittenburg, 1543

The book Streicher mentions, The Jews and Their Lies, was written by Luther in 1543, three years before his death. It was closely followed by another anti-Semitic treatise: Vom Schem Hamphoras (On the Ineffable Name). Oxford University historian Lyndal Roper summarizes the content of these two works in her recent highly acclaimed biography, Martin Luther: Renegade and Prophet [review]:

The Jews, he alleges, look for biblical truth “under the sow’s tail,” that is, their interpretation of the Bible comes from looking in a pig’s anus. . . . They defame Christian belief, “impelled by the Devil, to fall into this like filthy sows fall into the trough.” If they see a Jew, Christians should “throw sow dung at him . . . and chase him away.” Luther calls for the secular authorities to burn down all the synagogues and schools, and “what won’t burn should be covered over with earth, so that not a stone or piece of slag of it should be seen for all eternity.” The Jews’ houses should be destroyed and they should be put under one roof, like the gypsies. The Talmud and prayer books should be destroyed and Jewish teachers banned. They should be prevented from using the roads, usury banned, and the Jews forced to undertake physical labor instead. Assets from moneylending should be confiscated and used to support Jews who converted. This was a program of complete cultural eradication. And Luther meant it. . . .

Luther’s anti-Semitism then reached a crescendo of physical revulsion. He imagined Jews kissing and praying to the Devil’s excrement: “the Devil has emptied . . . his stomach again and again, that is a true relic, which the Jews, and those who want to be a Jew, kiss, eat, drink, and worship.” In a kind of inverted baptismal exorcism, the Devil fills the mouth, nose, and ears of the Jews with filth: “He stuffs and squirts them so full, that it overflows and swims out of every place, pure Devil’s filth, yes, it tastes so good to their hearts, and they guzzle it like sows.” Whipping himself into a frenzy, Luther invokes Judas, the ultimate Jew: “When Judas hanged himself, so that his guts ripped, and as happens to those who are hanged, his bladder burst, then the Jews had their golden cans and silver bowls ready, to catch the Judas piss (as one calls it) with the other relics, and afterwards together they ate the shit and drank, from which they got such sharp sight that they are able to see such complex glosses in Scripture.”

This summary provides only a sampling of Luther’s hate-filled vitriol. Multiple passages in his 1543 writings against the Jews are just as abhorrent.

snip

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Response to Celerity (Reply #21)

Mon Jul 15, 2019, 07:52 PM

23. Yep. That's Christianity for you

 

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Response to Still In Wisconsin (Original post)

Mon Jul 15, 2019, 06:35 PM

5. Even within evangelical or fundamentalist Christianity, there's a wide variety of beliefs, biases,

prejudices and practices. To try and identify who a "real" Christian is or is not, or to try and shame someone through pointing out their perceived hypocrisy, is a fool's errand and about as useful as trying to identify who a "real" Jew is.

Defining Christianity for political purposes isn't useful, IMO. I don't want religion used as a weapon by anyone.

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Response to Still In Wisconsin (Original post)

Mon Jul 15, 2019, 06:36 PM

6. My experience with fundamentalist Christians

is that all you have to do is ask Jesus into your heart and be born again.

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Response to Still In Wisconsin (Original post)

Mon Jul 15, 2019, 06:43 PM

7. check out the works of Chrissy Stroop

recovering evangelical. Having grown up in that world, she has some insight.

https://cstroop.com

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Response to Still In Wisconsin (Original post)

Mon Jul 15, 2019, 06:46 PM

8. There is no definition of what makes someone a Christian.

There are 1000's of denominations of Christianity. There are also countless "nondenominational" and "independent" churches, plus who knows how many millions of individual practitioners with their own unique interpretations. Every one of them is convinced that they are right, and that everyone else is doing it wrong.

So, the only thing we can say for sure is that every Christian includes themselves in their definition of Christian. Many of them conveniently further define it so as to exclude anyone they're embarrassed to be associated with (like Trump, or your in-laws). Since we can't read anyone's mind, I think it's best to take people at their word. If they say they're Christians, they're Christians.

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Response to Still In Wisconsin (Original post)

Mon Jul 15, 2019, 06:47 PM

9. Good luck

 


Christianity has been around a lot longer than any notion of multicultural liberal democracy.

For most of its existence, Christianity has been perfectly fine with rapacious tyrants, slave traders and more.

Anyone suggesting that, for example, the Confederacy was not a Christian enterprise is simply in deep denial.

People pick and choose what they want to believe. If you look at 2000 years worth of “what has Christianity, on balance, been about” the answer is nothing good.

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Response to Still In Wisconsin (Original post)

Mon Jul 15, 2019, 06:53 PM

11. Does your politics inform your faith or your faith inform your politics.

Guess which the fundies practice.

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Response to Still In Wisconsin (Original post)

Mon Jul 15, 2019, 06:54 PM

12. Many who claim to be Christians are not followers of Jesus or his teachings.

Trump is not a Christian and you can know he isn't by his fruits, the biblical way to determine a follower of Jesus. Any kid in grade school who has gone to Sunday school knows more about Jesus and Christianity than Trump does. The Bible says that god hates a liar and so Trump has to rank high on that list.

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Response to elocs (Reply #12)

Mon Jul 15, 2019, 07:04 PM

14. Right! As for others, many have always worn religious labels (sincerely!)

as a tribal identity without learning about, understanding of, or interest in the actual doctrine of their religions. Leaders of every religion have always been very aware of that reality.

As for Christians and the question, over 2 billion people are Christian and they're hardly defined by the behaviors of the large subset of American evangelicals who are appalling everyone else.

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Response to Still In Wisconsin (Original post)

Mon Jul 15, 2019, 07:05 PM

15. Here is the thing...

In almost every religion, there have been larger and smaller schisms between groups of people who interpret the Bible and other texts differently. Christianity started as a group of people who followed a particular set of teachings both based in but at odds with parts of Judaism. Even in the early church there were divisions, conferences where factions of people excommunicated each other. Within the Christian Church you have the Great Schism between the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches, then you have other smaller splits, the Reformation which split Catholics and Protestants, then Protestant churches split into a ton of different denominations.

All of it is over interpretations of texts and traditions, but mainly about power and belonging to the "correct" club of true believers. Fundamentalist doesn't really have much meaning anymore, along with Evangelical.

What we are seeing is the reaction of people who were raised in a time where Christianity was the de facto religion, where the social norms while not explicitly promoting Christianity because of the law, were doing it socially. Think about it, a lot of places still get Christmas off. Even government services are shut down. Not Passover, not Kwanza, not Rhamadan, but Christmas. People are freaking out because there are challenges to the norms now and for Christians, challenging their dominance feels like oppression. They are projecting and they are wrong, but that is how they see it.

They will support anyone they think will maintain or restore the cultural dominance of Christianity.

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Response to Still In Wisconsin (Original post)

Mon Jul 15, 2019, 07:11 PM

16. My $0.02

Who is "truly" a Christian is a controversy that has roots all the way back to the days of the Christian Testament, an assemblage of writings dating from about the year 45 through around the year 110. Both the gospels of Mark and Luke recount episodes where the apostles approach Jesus to report seeing people they didn't know acting in Jesus' name. The apostles are concerned that these people they don't know aren't true Christians.

On several occasions, Paul writes to the congregations he's founded and tried to stop them from drifting in their beliefs and practices. For Paul, the only true Christianity is what he has been teaching (cf. the letter to the Galatians). This is an old, old question, and I don't really have a satisfactory answer. All kinds of people use the same words, but they really have different meanings, depending on the person, the context, each person's experience, and a bunch of other factors. It leads to a lot of misunderstandings and hostilities because, for example, both persons are talking about "what the Bible says," but each one has a different exegetical method, lends greater or lesser credence to passages and verses, and comes to a conclusion that the other person regards as unsupported.

What I have come up with for myself is "the Hawkeye dodge." In the first Avengers movie, as Hawkeye and Poison Ivy are working their little corner of the final battle against the invading aliens, Poison Ivy hollers over to Hawkeye that "This is just like Budapest all over again." Hawkeye, preoccupied with shooting arrows at the invaders replies, "You and I remember Budapest very differently." When I'm in a discussion with someone about the Bible, I have gone to the dodge of "You and I read the Bible very differently." I'm not saying I'm right and the other person is wrong, but that we read, interpret, and experience these texts quite differently.

It hasn't yet, but I'm hopeful that one day the Hawkeye dodge turns the conversation to, "Well, how do YOU read this passage?" or "Why don't you think my reading is the one, only, true, and correct reading?" What I've mostly discovered is that a deeper dive isn't what a lot of Christians want; they have their well-worn passages and verses, they know exactly what they mean, and further discussion is of the devil or something equally dire. Loud Christians who extol the virtues of Trump read the Bible very differently from me.

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Response to Still In Wisconsin (Original post)

Mon Jul 15, 2019, 07:16 PM

17. Who's to say the Trumpers aren't the Real Christians....

Why is their subjective interpretation of a thousand year-old book any less valid than anyone else's subjective interpretation of that same thousand year-old book?



Sid

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Response to Still In Wisconsin (Original post)

Mon Jul 15, 2019, 07:35 PM

18. Political Christians rather than Christians of faith.

Political Christians rather than Christians of faith.

They support Trump who says he is so perfect that he does not need Christ or his forgiveness.

Like today's evangelical/religious right supporters, Trump is a Political Christian, not a Christian of faith.

Evangelicals/religious right are easily able to spin their beliefs for political expediency.

The Donald who does not have to ask Jesus for forgiveness.

The Donald who ridicules Holy Communion.

Trump: Drink my little wine, have my little cracker

http://www.cnn.com/videos/politics/2015/08/13/donald-trump-religion-serfaty-dnt-erin.cnn

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Response to Still In Wisconsin (Original post)

Mon Jul 15, 2019, 07:36 PM

19. Chreaster Catholic here... let me answer your question SIW.

I take it you believe both Reform Jews and Lubavitchers are Jews. Other than
tenuous tribal kinship - and the Shema Yisrael, the beliefs are different - leading to different attitudes about (others)
and outcomes.

For example, Catholics are pretty different in their beliefs and practices than Pentecostals.

While Catholics accept on faith some portions of scripture, fundamentalists believe that everything written in the Hebrew Canon and the Gospel is literally factual.

OTOH most mainline practicing Christians (Episcopalians, Methodists, Presbyterians, etc.,) do not accept a literal interpretation of scripture - but rather use the scripture as a guide. They likely have no problem with evolution or climate change or other findings of science.

Fundamentalists are much better at promoting themselves than mainstream Christianity - especially among the non-college uneducated.

Fundamentalism avoids "weak" dependency on the "Spirit" and clings to text. In other words it puts intuition
and contemplation in the back seat. They're all about judgment. They're sure of themselves. They're prideful, yet dole out words of self deprecation. They engage in gossip and slander. They're idolaters (look how they worship Trump). I can't stand em as a group. I find
them incurious, dull and lacking in imagination. A bunch of mean spirited fuck-wits. Moreover, many of them I encounter in the South just use their religion as a reason to shit on other people which is the opposite of their putative "savior."




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Response to Still In Wisconsin (Original post)

Mon Jul 15, 2019, 07:38 PM

20. A simple definition of who is a Christian from the song

"They'll Know We Are Christians by Our Love"
That pretty much says it, but here is the main refrain:
"And they'll know we are Christians by our love, by our love
Yeah they'll know we are Christians by our love"

Anyone who claims to be a Christian and exhibits hate and judgment of others in their life can pretty well be excluded from being a follower of Jesus. The theology can be whittled down to that.

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Response to Still In Wisconsin (Original post)

Mon Jul 15, 2019, 07:50 PM

22. I wonder if the Jews should have a copyright on their Bible?

And then demand Christians to stop printing the Old Testament as part of their Bible?

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Response to Still In Wisconsin (Original post)

Mon Jul 15, 2019, 11:46 PM

24. Okay, here's the deal. Christianity did not age well. It's possible to access the original movement

in the scriptures, but either no one knows how or dares to. I do dare.

The original Christians lived in small communities where they lived simply, were probably vegetarian and eschewed alcohol, displayed honesty and integrity and helped one another. St. Paul wasn't crazy about sex. Their honesty was admired. If an outsider was attracted by what he saw, he would discuss things to assess if he was ready to live up to their teachings, disdain for materialism, lifestyle. If so, his commitment would be formalized by a ceremonial baptism by immersion.

Their headquarters was Jerusalem. Approved teachers went to the communities to discuss teachings, give pep talks, answer questions and make sure the members lived up to their standards. After only about 100 years, the first snag. One "church" broke away from Jerusalem, deciding to follow their own leader. They should've been excommunicated, but there probably wasn't such a thing. Oh, well, two wars with Rome wouldn't have helped to keep the movement intact.

NOTE: What is the role of faith back then, since today's Christians seem to think faith in Jesus is what makes one a Christian. If faith had a role, it was as the first step in dedicating one's life to unselfishness and lovingkindness.

We know that instead of faith being all important, knowledge was. We know this from John, Paul and Jesus. Knowledge as it led to truth, understanding. "You will know(by experience) the truth and the truth will set you free." Free from what? Most Christians can't tell you.

The acquisition of knowledge means that the members should be what Paul called maturing. At some point deemed appropriate by a teacher...rabbi...some or all in a community would be ready for the mystery to be revealed. There were several mysteries in antiquity...one lasted for about 500 years. In all that time, with thousands undergoing the mystery ceremony, the initiates basically stuck to their sworn silence. We can only surmise. The mystery had something to do with experiencing death and experiencing the reality of spirit, that eternity exists, the physical world is just one facet of reality. One Roman said that after his initiation, he could not fear dying. When his daughter died, he knew she was not dead and could cope with losing her. When Jesus was arrested, a young man was there, naked except for a cloak. When Lazarus ' sisters feared he was dead in a cave...but he'd been wrapped for a funeral, so why were they thinking he shouldn't be dead?...Jesus knew he wasn't dead. These episodes make most sense as the mystery initiation where the candidate somehow experienced the world usually unseen.

So, there never was one level of being Christian. In the mysteries , a beginner was a chrestos, an initiate a christos. Today's evangelicals could, at best, be called chresti. But, if the mystery religion is Christianity (the Way), chresti is probably overstating it. What made Christianity different from other mysteries is that while they taught one how to die with peace of mind, Christianity taught one how to live as well and why. Evangelicals do not know how to live, much less why.

Christianity 's problems increased after your Jewish ancestors got themselves evicted from Jerusalem for 2000 years. !!!! The seat of authority passed to Rome, altho some leaders stayed in Jerusalem because they weren't considered Jews. Some emphasis on maturing diminished. Christianity was all but done in when the Roman emperor decided to legalize it and become one himself, nevermind his being a murdering, power hungry materialist. So much for the Way. Later emperors gave Christians tax breaks, it was the state religion, job holders needed to be Christian. The coup de grace, in understanding, came when an emperor led a convention to create a creed of beliefs that everyone could support, no more squabbling about beliefs.

At this point, Christianity had evolved from being a way of life leading to knowledge to a state religion where one was a Christian if one mouthed a creed. One might suppose the religion was dead.

In the 20th century, Billy Sunday came up with "Do you accept Jesus as your personal savior?" Christianity became simpler. Big houses, fancy cars, vanity, rank materialism, all fine because you had faith that Jesus would save you.

Jesus said his truths were hidden in his parables, so you'd think no Christian would rest until those pesky items were decoded. Believe me. I've been in church classes. They don't have a clue because they try to make the message fit their dogma and it can't be done. That's such a shame because some of the teachings have been investigated using scientific method. The survival of Mind after death. Thoughts are things. Reincarnation. If one can accept psychics and mediums...karma. A multilevel spirit world. All in the teachings.

To tackle your professor posed. In this case, the requirements for being Christian still exist even tho not understood. If one claims to be a billionaire but the bank says otherwise, one's lying. This is why you've heard that evangelicals aren't Christian. They don't meet the requirements. They think Trump's wealth is an indication of God's blessing; I heard them. Jesus said a camel could walk thru the eye of a needle more easily than a rich man enter heaven. Even at the most basic, easily understood level, they flunk. Love your neighbor? Okay, if they can afford the neighborhood. Love your enemy. No way. Give as much as you can, sacrificing. Okay, as long as there's plenty left for me. They just don't fit the bill.


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