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Thread: What is most responsible for Christianity's failure in the West?

  1. #181
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    Re: What is most responsible for Christianity's failure in the West?

    The people talking about how science has refuted some religious claims reminded me of this quote

    “Half the people in the world think that the metaphors of their religious traditions, for example, are facts. And the other half contends that they are not facts at all. As a result we have people who consider themselves believers because they accept metaphors as facts, and we have others who classify themselves as atheists because they think religious metaphors are lies.”

    ― Joseph Campbell, Thou Art That: Transforming Religious Metaphor
    Quote Originally Posted by matchlight View Post
    Justice Thomas' opinions consistently contain precise, detailed constitutional analyses.
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    the vast majority of folks that need healthcare are on Medicare.. both rich and poor..

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    Re: What is most responsible for Christianity's failure in the West?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rainman05 View Post
    I've not argued that my Christianity is a polytheist religion. Where have I done that? I've just stated that you can't attribute the events of the OT to the god of the NT because the god of the NT is the God of Christianity... and he is not the same one as the god of the OT. And the events of the NT cannot be attributed to the god of the OT.

    I have provided sufficient examples and explanations to support my viewpoint, metaphores and all. Just because you can't see things that way doesn't mean you are right. It doesn't make me right either, but I have the advantage of bringing more to the debate where as you have simply recycled one silly, nonsensical point.
    I think an answer to his question is well deserved: Where did the God of the OT go when the Christian God appeared? This is problematic.

    1. Either there are two gods and they did battle with each other. This undermines a central tenant of mainstream Abrahamic religion.

    2. The OT is not 'real' which poses existential problems for the story of Christ

    3. Or they are the same deity in which case explanation of his points is required.

  3. #183
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    Re: What is most responsible for Christianity's failure in the West?

    Quote Originally Posted by Einzige View Post
    Where by "failure" I mean its gradual displacement from the center of the moral and intellectual life of they civilization.

    To define these options bit:

    Poll option one is the conservative answer. It holds that Christian belief would be as predominant today in the West as it was in 1913 if it were not for the conscious, deliberate machinations of a small group of secularizing elites promoting atheism and amorality.

    My thoughts: This is the least tenable of the four options I've provided, in part because 'the elite' in the West has never been anti-Christian. To be sure, they are opposed to fundamentalism, but only because it is at odds with liberal-capitalist notions of 'progress'. The invocation of the defense of Occidental Christianity during the Cold War is proof-positive that Western elites want generally to employ Christianity to their own ends.

    Poll option two is the liberal answer, the "secularization thesis". According to this theory, Christianity is doomed to deplacement, as are all religions eventually, by the gradual and wholly unconscious forces of mental and mechanical progress.

    My thoughts: This is almost as problematic a solution to the question posed as the first answer. It assumes a great deal of the structure of Christian ideology - progress towards a "new Heaven and a new Earth", an eventual end to history, and so on - while draining it of its metaphysical content.

    Option three is what I call the Nietzscheite option: Christianity has failed because it is inherently flawed. It can exist only among theoppressed, and as soon as a people become strong enough to shirk ofc a collective sense of inferiority it will abolish the correspondent notimon of individual existential guilt that informs Christianity.

    My opinion: This is the view I hold closest to. Christianity, in a very real sense, requires weakness to thrive (it is little wonder that Christianity is ascendant today only in the impoverished Third World nations of sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America, and the American South). A strong people wants a religion of strength and severity.

    Option four: The Marxist solution. Christianity belongs at the historical latest to the age of feudalism; the rising capitalists of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries sought initially to do away with it altogether, as a reminder of the hated age of the nobility, and retain it only as a matter of practicalg politica expedience.

    My opinion: This is superficially similar to the liberal answer, relying on notions of deterministic 'progress', but avoids some of its problems by acknowledging the fact of necessity and human action in historical processes, rather than ascribing all history to forces largely independent of men.
    I'm Baha'i and I believe in progressive revelation, meaning that religion has to be "updated" every couple of centuries to catch up with the development of mankind. Every religion has a life cycle, starting with spring, growing to full strength in its summer, then slowly retreating in autumn until it loses its power in winter. At that point, it has to be renewed by a new revelation.

    Christianity was the best answer to the ills of mankind (or rather, of the occidental civilization) in 1 AD and the following centuries. But it's no longer the ideal religion for our times, IMO. That's because man and civilization has progressed in the past 2000 years. Muhammed brought an "update" in the 7th century AD which was tailor-cut for the Arab peoples of that time, but it's outdated now too. The best revelation and religion for our day and age is the Baha'i faith, revealed by Baha'u'llah in the 19th century. This faith is still very small and weak, in its spring, but will probably gain traction over the next centuries, as more people will find it suiting for today's problems.

    I believe Christianity is inevitably losing strength in the West because we have progressed in the past 2000 years and the best answers back then are not necessarily still the best answers today. Some churches or denominations may be capable of slowing down this trend, by "modernizing" their services and interpretations, but this will only slow down the inevitable. IMO.
    "Not learning from mistakes is worse than committing mistakes. When you don't allow yourself to make mistakes, it is hard to be tolerant of others and it does not allow even God to be merciful."

  4. #184
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    Re: What is most responsible for Christianity's failure in the West?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sherman123 View Post
    I think an answer to his question is well deserved: Where did the God of the OT go when the Christian God appeared? This is problematic.

    1. Either there are two gods and they did battle with each other. This undermines a central tenant of mainstream Abrahamic religion.

    2. The OT is not 'real' which poses existential problems for the story of Christ

    3. Or they are the same deity in which case explanation of his points is required.
    I believe the God of the OT is the same God as the Christian God (and the Muslim God too, for that matter). There is just one God; assuming anything else is polytheism or even idolatry.

    God just appears to be different, because he's using different "education methods" towards different peoples at different stages of development. Just like a father will use different methods of education towards his children at different points of their development, and towards different children with different characters.

    The bronze age Jewish people was a different people than 1st century Romans, so God had to guide these different peoples differently.
    "Not learning from mistakes is worse than committing mistakes. When you don't allow yourself to make mistakes, it is hard to be tolerant of others and it does not allow even God to be merciful."

  5. #185
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    Re: What is most responsible for Christianity's failure in the West?

    Quote Originally Posted by German guy View Post
    I believe the God of the OT is the same God as the Christian God (and the Muslim God too, for that matter). There is just one God; assuming anything else is polytheism or even idolatry.

    God just appears to be different, because he's using different "education methods" towards different peoples at different stages of development. Just like a father will use different methods of education towards his children at different points of their development, and towards different children with different characters.

    The bronze age Jewish people was a different people than 1st century Romans, so God had to guide these different peoples differently.
    Just like things are different now and we have different ethics and view right and wrong differently.

  6. #186
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    Re: What is most responsible for Christianity's failure in the West?

    Quote Originally Posted by German guy View Post
    I believe the God of the OT is the same God as the Christian God (and the Muslim God too, for that matter). There is just one God; assuming anything else is polytheism or even idolatry.

    God just appears to be different, because he's using different "education methods" towards different peoples at different stages of development. Just like a father will use different methods of education towards his children at different points of their development, and towards different children with different characters.

    The bronze age Jewish people was a different people than 1st century Romans, so God had to guide these different peoples differently.
    Fairly given, I was trying to prompt the other user for an answer to the questions he was given as I don't think it's something that cannot be reasonably hand-waved away.

    That being said I think your explanation has problems of its own. If there is an omnipotent, omniscient, and all loving creator why was it necessary to impose a spectrum of moral code that slides dramatically from century to century? Surely if a deity had ripped open the fabric of reality at Mt. Sinai and revealed himself to the multitudes he would have had carte blanche to issue a more progressive moral code than the brutish one that was delivered to the Israelites? In many ways the moral code of the Israelites was more primitive than that which existed in many other places on the planet at the time, did Sino-Indian civilization exceed the progressive inclinations of god?

    I'm unconvinced by the argument of 'to each time their own measure'. If God exists and he is benevolent there is no need for such a strange, contorted, and positively slow evolution of morality which oddly ceased to deliver divine instructions after the 1st Century AD.

  7. #187
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    Re: What is most responsible for Christianity's failure in the West?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sherman123 View Post
    I'm unconvinced by the argument of 'to each time their own measure'. If God exists and he is benevolent there is no need for such a strange, contorted, and positively slow evolution of morality which oddly ceased to deliver divine instructions after the 1st Century AD.
    Well, Baha'i believe that God did not cease to deliver divine instructions after the 1st century AD: In the 7th century, Muhammed revealed Islam and in the 19th century, the Bab and Baha'u'llah revealed the Baha'i faith. In ca. 850 years from now, another divine prophet is assumed to appear to once again deliver an "update".

    As for the "brutish" law for the Israelites: I believe it was the best possible law for that people at that time. That people struggled for its mere survival in a very hostile environment.
    "Not learning from mistakes is worse than committing mistakes. When you don't allow yourself to make mistakes, it is hard to be tolerant of others and it does not allow even God to be merciful."

  8. #188
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    Re: What is most responsible for Christianity's failure in the West?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rainman05 View Post
    Your lack of a proper education in Christian philosophy cannot be mended over the internet.
    I find this offensive for a couple of reasons, and I'd like to make sure you understand them.

    The first is that I went to a Christian school and a Christian education. To question my level of education rather than address the simple flaw in your reasoning that you haven't even attempted to explain is simply poor form on your part. You said I was wrong, and that your God isn't the one who made the world in seven days, flooded everyone except Noah and his posse, and foretold the coming of Christ. You haven't even attempted to reconcile that statement with the many religious contradictions it raises.

    The second is your notion that what you are saying is the traditional Christian viewpoint. It isn't. Christianity holds that God is eternal, and that a couple of thousand years ago he sent a son to this earth to give us guidance. It also holds that before he sent the son down, he wrote a book which we call the Old Testament, which detailed some of his activities, and some laws for us to live by. Christianity doesn't claim that God didn't exist before Jesus. That's why I was offended by your first point about understanding and education, because there isn't a single mainstream form of Christianity that teaches what you're saying.
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    Re: What is most responsible for Christianity's failure in the West?

    Quote Originally Posted by HumanBeing View Post
    I find this offensive for a couple of reasons, and I'd like to make sure you understand them.

    The first is that I went to a Christian school and a Christian education. To question my level of education rather than address the simple flaw in your reasoning that you haven't even attempted to explain is simply poor form on your part. You said I was wrong, and that your God isn't the one who made the world in seven days, flooded everyone except Noah and his posse, and foretold the coming of Christ. You haven't even attempted to reconcile that statement with the many religious contradictions it raises.

    The second is your notion that what you are saying is the traditional Christian viewpoint. It isn't. Christianity holds that God is eternal, and that a couple of thousand years ago he sent a son to this earth to give us guidance. It also holds that before he sent the son down, he wrote a book which we call the Old Testament, which detailed some of his activities, and some laws for us to live by. Christianity doesn't claim that God didn't exist before Jesus. That's why I was offended by your first point about understanding and education, because there isn't a single mainstream form of Christianity that teaches what you're saying.
    While it is true that I did insult you on the basis of your Christian philosophy education(and I guess it was out of line), the first critique I have of you is not having any sort of logical skills (and that isn't out of line) or comprehension ability of new data.

    You cannot talk about the Christian God before the events of the New Testament.

    God, as in, God the father, yes, he is eternal. Who said he isn't? Did I ever say that? No, I didn't, only in the context that you can't attribute the events of the old testament to the Christian God.

    Christianity's God = Jesus Christ + God the Father + The holy spirit.

    What is so hard to understand about that?
    Judaism's God = God + the holy spirit.

    The 2 don't equate one another. They aren't the same. I have told you, while there is an inheritance relationship(the money metaphor I made before), there is a whole new identity of god in the new testament. One that cannot be equated to the identity that god had in the old testament. So therefore, the God of Christianity =/= god of Judaism.

  10. #190
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    Re: What is most responsible for Christianity's failure in the West?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rainman05 View Post
    While it is true that I did insult you on the basis of your Christian philosophy education(and I guess it was out of line), the first critique I have of you is not having any sort of logical skills (and that isn't out of line) or comprehension ability of new data.
    This isn't "new data" and your idea that the God who Christians worship didn't exist before Jesus is both nonsensical and unchristian.

    You cannot talk about the Christian God before the events of the New Testament.
    Sure you can, just as Jesus did on numerous occasions. Again, stop avoiding the question: If your God didn't exist before the New Testament, does that mean Christians don't believe their God created man? Does it mean Christians don't believe their God is the one who was responsible for Adam and Eve? It's a ridiculous assertion to make.

    God, as in, God the father, yes, he is eternal. Who said he isn't? Did I ever say that? No,
    Yes you did, it's the whole point of what you're saying. You're saying the father isn't a God that you worship, or that he's a different God from Jesus. Neither of those views are in line with Christian philosophy. If he is eternal and he isn't the God of the Old Testament, that means we are talking about two Gods, which again isn't what Christianity is about.

    I didn't, only in the context that you can't attribute the events of the old testament to the Christian God.
    So you can't attribute the creation of man or the prophecies of Jesus being the son of God to God? And you think that somehow makes sense?

    Christianity's God = Jesus Christ + God the Father + The holy spirit.
    So your God actually did unleash the plagues of Egypt, I was right all along, and you actually agree with me? Well, this was a complete waste of time then.

    What is so hard to understand about that?
    Judaism's God = God + the holy spirit.
    What's so hard to understand is that you just said your God includes the one who unleashed the plagues, and therefore you aren't actually disagreeing with me, despite emphatically stating that I was wrong. It's weird.

    The 2 don't equate one another. They aren't the same. I have told you, while there is an inheritance relationship(the money metaphor I made before), there is a whole new identity of god in the new testament. One that cannot be equated to the identity that god had in the old testament. So therefore, the God of Christianity =/= god of Judaism.
    Seems you're a polytheist and you're just having a hard time dealing with it. I'd be interested to hear if there are any other Christians who will say that the Old Testament wasn't written by the God they worship. If there are, they don't seem to be commenting on this thread.
    Last edited by HumanBeing; 07-11-13 at 01:36 AM.
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