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Christian freedom - an oxymoron?
Posted: 14 May 2007 04:42 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 91 ]  
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[quote author=“burt”]This does not necessarily relate to Bruces idea of freedom, but there is good philosophical argument relating submission and freedom.  The Stoics, for example, were complete determinists; they believed that freedom only came with submission to reality.  One was not free to violate the laws of reality, so submission to those laws freed one from desire for the unattainable.  This seems like the Buddhist idea that freedom from suffering only comes with freedom from desire.

This is tautology cleverly disguised as a “good” argument. Perhaps you could clue us in, burt, as to what is so “good” about it.

What if freedom from desire is unattainable to a living being? What allows you to assume that it is attainable? When it gets right down to it, it’s because some guy like Gautama Buddha claimed that you could. What makes this other than just another unsubstantiated report of a UFO? What if everyone who corroborates the Buddha experience is simply going along with saying the naked emperor is clothed. Or vice versa.

A good Buddhist I know spends most of her time striving mightily to be free of desire. Desiring to be free does not strike me as a path toward being free of desire. You’re either free or you’re not, and it depends on the day. There’s submission. There’s freedom. There’s reality. Don’t get them confused with one another.

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Posted: 14 May 2007 04:51 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 92 ]  
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[quote author=“Salt Creek”][quote author=“burt”]This does not necessarily relate to Bruces idea of freedom, but there is good philosophical argument relating submission and freedom.  The Stoics, for example, were complete determinists; they believed that freedom only came with submission to reality.  One was not free to violate the laws of reality, so submission to those laws freed one from desire for the unattainable.  This seems like the Buddhist idea that freedom from suffering only comes with freedom from desire.

This is tautology cleverly disguised as a “good” argument. Perhaps you could clue us in, burt, as to what is so “good” about it.

What if freedom from desire is unattainable to a living being? What allows you to assume that it is attainable? When it gets right down to it, it’s because some guy like Gautama Buddha claimed that you could. What makes this other than just another unsubstantiated report of a UFO? What if everyone who corroborates the Buddha experience is simply going along with saying the naked emperor is clothed. Or vice versa.

A good Buddhist I know spends most of her time striving mightily to be free of desire. Desiring to be free does not strike me as a path toward being free of desire. You’re either free or you’re not, and it depends on the day.

Salty:

Why the need to attack the subject by making it so encompassing that everything in the world applies?  You keep broadening the focus instead of dealing with the issues as presented.  This discussion was about the only real authority to curb freedom, the government.  (Or at least it should be.)  People get confused when they start thinking that an individual’s opinion of what is right and wrong should matter to someone else.  It shouldn’t, and we shouldn’t concern ourselves with fanciful discussions regarding meta anything when we actually have a framework in place to deal with the issue.  The wheels of justice spin slowly and deliberately.  This delay keeps knuckleheads from using pop coulture to redefine what is or is not acceptable within our society.

Anyway, to sum it all up, we need to keep our eyes on the realistic means by which we approach problems.  Concrete problems do not necessarily lend themselves to abstract solutions.

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Posted: 14 May 2007 05:53 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 93 ]  
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The concept of “submission to God” sounds fishy to me, and not just in a Christian symbolism sense. It is not enough for theists to submit to their gods. The evangelical ones say the rest of us also need to submit to their gods. But the only “evidence” for the existence of those gods is the word of the theists themselves, including the authors of scripture.

Is it reasonable to conclude that evangelical theism is tiger repellent?

http://www.godofthemachine.com/archives/00000578.html

The major religions, of course, are the greatest tiger repellent of all. Good is proof of God’s wisdom and mercy; evil of his subtlety and inscrutability. Throw in a sacred text that it is blasphemy even to translate, and a standing order to slaughter the infidels, and you’ve really built something to last.

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Posted: 14 May 2007 06:04 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 94 ]  
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Just so no one gets confused:

I am not trying to make an argument that we should submit to God.  After all, he can hardly be said to be a concrete problem. Submission to an imaginary friend or concept is highly irrational to me.  But to each his own. 

As an aside, I do believe the Christian Bible instructs followers to submit to the laws of the lands in which they live.

If you can’t tell, I believe the law is the only valid constraint on human freedom, outside of general standards of decency.  Unfortunately, we will never be able to legislate taste, so our laws are really all we will ever have.  Man truly is born free, yet everywhere bound by chains.

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Posted: 14 May 2007 06:43 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 95 ]  
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[quote author=“MDBeach”]I am not trying to make an argument that we should submit to God.  After all, he can hardly be said to be a concrete problem. Submission to an imaginary friend or concept is highly irrational to me.  But to each his own.

I think I understood that the first time, but thanks for the clarification. 

[quote author=“MDBeach”]As an aside, I do believe the Christian Bible instructs followers to submit to the laws of the lands in which they live.

Have you ever heard the claim that “biblical law” supersedes government law or is the basis of government law? I’ve heard fundamentalist Christians use that to argue against legalizing same-sex marriage. When I hear that theocratic nonsense, I feel like gouging out my eyeballs with rusty forks.

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Posted: 14 May 2007 07:46 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 96 ]  
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[quote author=“Carstonio”]

[quote author=“MDBeach”]As an aside, I do believe the Christian Bible instructs followers to submit to the laws of the lands in which they live.

Have you ever heard the claim that “biblical law” supersedes government law or is the basis of government law? I’ve heard fundamentalist Christians use that to argue against legalizing same-sex marriage. When I hear that theocratic nonsense, I feel like gouging out my eyeballs with rusty forks.

I have heard it yes, do I agree with it, no.  Rather than jot down my own drivle on this issue, Please read the following answer I found on http://en.allexperts.com/q/Bible-Studies-1654/Separation-Church-State.htm :

Expert: Mr. McClellan
Date: 3/30/2007
Subject: Separation of Church and State

Question
Mr. McClellan,
After reading you answer on The Bible’s Position on Man Made Laws, I was still perplexed about a question I have, that is the separatin of church and state.

Does this separtion go against God’s laws or should Christians follow man’s laws on this issue.

Thank you

 


Mr. McClellon replied:

Hello Diana,
This is a follow up to the answer I gave you concerning the question about the “seperation of church and state.” In Romans, chapter thirteen, the apostle Paul clearly states that it is God who puts governments in place and gives them authority. They are supposed to be voluntarily in subjection to him but, as you know, they often disobey God and do not treat people fairly or with compassion, etc., By reading the Old Testament, especially the books of Kings and Chronicles as well as the book of Daniel, you can see that Paul is just saying what the scriptures have always said. Now, in Matthew, chapter 19 begenning with verse 16, Jesus answers a man that had asked him how to have eternal life. If he had asked him how to be saved, or to get into the kingdom of God, or how to be redeemed, how to be allowed into heaven the man would have gotten the same answer because all of these things mean the same thing. A sinner receives eternal life at the moment that he is saved (although salvation, and thus eternal life, can be forfeited if a sinner returns to his sinful ways. God requires a person to be faithful to his committment to him and the New Testament is filled with warnings to Christians about what will happen to them if they depart from “the faith” after they have been saved.) and salvation takes place the instant a person obeys God’s requirements on how to become saved and begin life again free from the penalty of past sins. Read Acts, chapter two to learn exactly what God requires. Also read Romans, chapter 6 as well as Acts 22 which is about Paul’s salvation and how he got rid of the penalty for his sins. And, please be aware that the word “baptized” does not mean to have a little water sprinkled or poured on you. It quite literally means to let yourself be totally buried or immersed in water. It is the very first physical action that is required of a repentent sinner if he/she intends to be faithful to God and from the time that Jesus was resurrected it is not until that moment that a person has the spirit of God in them. It could not be more clearly stated than in the 38th verse of Acts 2. Quite literally, everything else on the topic of salvation in the New Testament backs this up without exception. Now, just because some people had the spirit of God in them before baptism was required by Jesus does not mean that it is not necessary to be saved. In Matthew 28, Jesus plainly states that after he was resurrected he received all authority in heaven and on earth, he no longer was subject to the Law of Moses as he voluntarily had been before. Now, Jesus makes it quite clear that salvation is not only for the Jews (John the baptizer, who was sent by God to prepare the way for Jesus, said that God required repentent Jews to be baptized in order to have their sins forgiven.), it is to be offered to every sinner on earth and everyone who wants to be forgiven of their sins and thus have eternal life must submit to Jesus and be baptized as he requires. How can a person think that they are being faithful to Jesus if they refuse to do what he says to do? Only a fool or a false teacher would say that baptism is not necessary! So, lets say that the government or some individual made a law that said that you were not to obey God and be baptized in order to have your sins remitted, or forgiven. What should you do? Should you obey such a man made law or should you obey God?
Let me make this absolutely clear. There is not supposed to be any seperation of church and state as far as God is concerned. All governments are supposed to be in subjection to God and upholding his instructions for living the way that God prefers us to live because he loves us. To speak of the government being seperate from the church, the true church which is composed of people who are actually and willingly living by the rules for eternal life, is to say that the government is in rebellion to God and who wants to be ruled by a government that is in rebellion to God and requires us to obey laws that are contrary to God’s laws? This is why Christians, people who want to be faithful to God and have eternal life, are encouraged to ignore government laws that are not in line with God’s laws. Governments are supposed to be in subjection to God, but when they are in rebellion to God and subject to Satan instead, we must not obey them when they insist that we disobey God also even if it will cost us our lives. This is exactly what the apostles talked about in the other books of the New Testament. Jesus had said that his followers would be persecuted just as he was and many would lose their lives because of their faithfulness to him but they were not to worry because if they remained faithful unto death, they would receive a place in heaven. Heaven is guaranteed only to those that remain faithful. If a person could not lose salvation after he had been saved then why do the apostles spend so much time and effort warning Christians to remain faithful? Beware of false teachers. They are everywhere and in great numbers and many of them are very popular and influential.
I hope that this makes it more clear to you.
Sincerely,
Mr. McClellan

He also added:

First, you have to know the difference between a man made law and what God requires. If, as most people mistakenly assume, you cannot really know what God requires or even that God exists, then it would be impossible to know the difference. It would just be anybodies guess, as it is now with most people. This is at the root of why there are so many different churches and religions. Now, for what the writers of the Bible said. Anytime a man made law requires you to do something that is contrary to what God requires, you are encouraged to ignore the man made law and abide by what God has said. See Acts 4:19 and 5:29. But, as I have said, most people seem not to be able to recognize what God actually requires though it really is quite easy and not at all difficult.
Sincerely,
Mr. McClellan

He later added:

Oh yes. The common idea of the seperation of church and state is a total misunderstanding and entirely rediculous when you actually understand the Bible writer’s position. I’ll elaborate more on this if you need.

What do you think?  I encourage you to ask him yourself using the link provided.

If you are interested, here is how Mr. McClellan qualifies himself as an expert on this issue:

About Mr. McClellan

Expertise
I can answer questions concerning Christian doctrine as well as other kinds of questions relating to religion.

Experience
My education puts me second to none in this area and I have had over forty years experience in the area of teaching Christian theology, doctrine, apologetics, hermeneutics, history, and philosophy. Publications: Among the things that I have written is a summary of the entire Bible that is intended to help people put it all together and quickly understand exactly what the writers of the Bible intended for everyone to understand. By reading it and then reading the Bible, the correct understanding should be quite clear and a sincere student will recognize that they have received an invaluable aid to knowing how to correctly interpret the Bible so that they can know, with certainty, that they are understanding it correctly. At the same time, they will be able to recognize the vast number of false doctirnes that are being called Christian doctrines but are only the teachings of men and have no more authority than any oridinary man can give them.

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Posted: 14 May 2007 08:13 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 97 ]  
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MDBeach, I think it would be pointless of me to submit a question to McClellan, since nothing I say to him would convince him to keep his scabrous paws off the First Amendment. His theocratic agenda is already obvious.

First, you have to know the difference between a man made law and what God requires. If, as most people mistakenly assume, you cannot really know what God requires or even that God exists, then it would be impossible to know the difference.

Ay yay yay…He conveniently leaves out the possibility that people who claim to know what God wants have an agenda to control others, using the name of God to convince people to submit to that agenda.

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Posted: 14 May 2007 08:33 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 98 ]  
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I agree. I don’t agree with the guy, I just so happened to find his opinion and it fit right in with our conversation.  Plus, it is nice to hear a Christian apologetics stance other than frankr and Bruce. 

It illustrates just how much Christian ideology and hierarchy of authority differs from the typical atheist values.  Very scary, indeed.  There is simply no boubdaries to their hypocracy.  No wonder they keep their congregations confused.  Only a sheeple would buy that stuff.

Also, in light of this obvious tendency to disregard “unjust” law and the duty of a Christian to do so, the Christain apologetics rationalizations on slavery concerning the law and morality of the practice, such as those proffered on this forum, seem even weaker than if they stood on their own.  Where is that prohibition again?  And why did Jesus instruct us how to beat them if Christianity did not explicitly condone the practice?

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Posted: 14 May 2007 08:52 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 99 ]  
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[quote author=“MDBeach”]It illustrates just how much Christian ideology and hierarchy of authority differs from the typical atheist values.  Very scary, indeed…Also, in light of this obvious tendency to disregard “unjust” law and the duty of a Christian to do so, the Christain apologetics rationalizations on slavery concerning the law and morality of the practice, such as those proffered on this forum, seem even weaker than if they stood on their own

You’re right about the hypocrisy and the weakness of the rationalizations. I wonder if it’s worth our time to refute a particular rationalization or a particular conflict in logic. A tree can remain standing even if it loses a few leaves. I expect NO logic in any religious doctrine, because of the core idea of “Because God says so.” Refuting one rationalization might be seen as refuting a particular notion of what God wants in favor of other notions, instead of refuting the core idea itself. That’s how I see the dispute between Christians obeying government authority versus Christians disregarding “unjust” laws. It’s like Brian of Nazareth’s would-be followers arguing over the shoe versus the gourd.

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Posted: 20 May 2007 02:00 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 100 ]  
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[quote author=“MDBeach”]Also, in light of this obvious tendency to disregard “unjust” law and the duty of a Christian to do so, the Christain apologetics rationalizations on slavery concerning the law and morality of the practice, such as those proffered on this forum, seem even weaker than if they stood on their own.  Where is that prohibition again?  And why did Jesus instruct us how to beat them if Christianity did not explicitly condone the practice?

I really don’t intend to interfere with atheists pretending to interpret the scriptures, but Jesus never instructed us to beat slaves. He simply told us what would happen to his own servants in the judgment.  Since you are not his servants, and never intend to be, you don’t have any reason to concern yourselves with this issue. It’s a family matter.

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Posted: 20 May 2007 06:22 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 101 ]  
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But Jesus DID tell us that it is acceptable to beat slaves.  Or don’t you think that God is Jesus?  (Ex 21:20)

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What do I care for a hell for oppressors? What good can hell do, since those children have already been tortured? And what becomes of harmony, if there is hell? I want to forgive. I want to embrace. I don’t want more suffering. And if the sufferings of children go to swell the sum of sufferings which was necessary to pay for truth, then I protest that the truth is not worth such a price.
-Ivan Karamazov

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Posted: 21 May 2007 02:53 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 102 ]  
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[quote author=“Bruce Burleson”]I really don’t intend to interfere with atheists pretending to interpret the scriptures…

Why would an atheist’s interpretation of scripture be less valid or even more valid than the numerous interpretations by Christians? I am bewildered by the conflicting interpretations offered by the different denominations of Christianity. I see the solution as to not “interpret” scripture at all, but to simply view the books as historical and cultural artifacts like the Iliad or the Elder Edda. That would mean discarding the idea of scripture having any kind of divine source, either literal or inspired.

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Posted: 21 May 2007 03:27 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 103 ]  
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[quote author=“Bruce Burleson”]Since you are not his servants, and never intend to be, you don’t have any reason to concern yourselves with this issue. It’s a family matter.

Well, now, we may have seen the limits of the equal protection clause. Or something like that.

Consenting adults, and all that (lyrics by Mark Knopfler):

Les boys do cabaret
Les boys are glad to be gay
They’re not afraid now
Disco bar in Germany
Les boys are glad to be
Up on parade now

Les boys got leather straps
Les boys got SS caps
But they got no gun now
Get dressed up get a little risqué
Got to do a little s & m these days
It’s all in fun now

Les boys come on again
For the high class whores
And the businessmen
Who drive in their Mercedes Benz
To a disco bar in old München

They get the jokes that the D.J. makes
They get nervous and they make mistakes
They’re bad for business
Some tourist take a photograph
Les boys don’t get one laugh
He says they’re useless

Late at night when they’ve gone away
Les boys dream of Jean Genet
High heel shoes and a black beret
And the posters on the wall that say
Les boys do cabaret
Les boys are glad to be gay

You’re a vaudeville act, now, Bruce. It’s all theater for you, and saying outrageous things just to get a rise out of a bunch of atheists in the audience. We play along; you serve as free entertainment. Audience participation, and so on.

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Posted: 21 May 2007 04:01 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 104 ]  
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[quote author=“Bruce Burleson”]I really don’t intend to interfere with atheists pretending to interpret the scriptures, but Jesus never instructed us to beat slaves. He simply told us what would happen to his own servants in the judgment.  Since you are not his servants, and never intend to be, you don’t have any reason to concern yourselves with this issue. It’s a family matter.

Bruce, I hope you keep in mind that plenty of atheists/agnostics/deists who visit here had, as children, been indoctrinated into Christianity. We’re still scratching our heads a bit. I’d say your religious club is more powerful even than the power brokers who enjoy pretending to be Bohemian back-to-nature boys up in God’s country near Occidental. Such power can’t be ignored.

Or should the Bible only to be interpreted by way of the Holy Spirit? Shouldn’t msdiver, for instance—an English teacher—have any confidence in her interpretations of its words?

Something else to keep in mind: quite a few of us who have left religious thinking behind honestly feel as though it’s only proper to share our thoughts and insights with others. We’ve found something of great value. Should we just keep our discovery to ourselves? How selfish that would be.

Bruce, as the big election draws closer, I’m still hoping you’ll be able to trust the forum to help edit your N.Y. Times piece. Good luck.

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Posted: 21 May 2007 04:19 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 105 ]  
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[quote author=“homunculus”]Something else to keep in mind: quite a few of us who have left religious thinking behind honestly feel as though it’s only proper to share our thoughts and insights with others. We’ve found something of great value. Should we just keep our discovery to ourselves? How selfish that would be.

That sounds like the defense often used by evangelical Christians, including the ones who tell others that they must accept Jesus or burn in hell.

Do you see evangelical Christianity and evangelical atheism as different? I see the difference as this - atheism doesn’t make demands on people, such as defining them in a negative way, or requiring their obedience, or predicting ghastly punishments if they don’t obey.

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