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Old 03-26-2014, 01:41 AM View Post #1 (Link) The Tolerant Christian
2sh4r (Offline)
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I considered posting this piece in the essays section, but I didn't really want a critique; I was looking for a discussion. I thought it would be more appropriate to post it here. Moderators feel free to move it if you feel otherwise.

Forenote: I am not religious, so this is undoubtedly biased.

Disclaimer: I do not claim to be an expert on Christianity. If anything said in this post about the beliefs of Christians is incorrect, feel free to enlighten me.

Christians who maintain close friendships with non-Christians are terrible people. Let me explain why.

First, we must define a few basic beliefs in Christianity. All Christians believe in a very clear view of morality; every action is either a good one or a sin in the eyes of God. Sinners burn in Hell with Satan and the good go to heaven with God. A long time ago, the first humans, Adam and Eve, decide to eat from a very bad tree. God banishes them from His sacred garden and curses their children. Because of Adam and Eve's mistake, all humans come out of the womb sinners, and they can only undo their sin by leading a very "Godly" life. One day, God, because he loves humanity, decides to change that. He sees many of his servants trying to lead Godly lives but failing. He sends part of himself (his “son” Jesus Christ) to Earth to save these humans only. Jesus hands out holy pardons to everybody who tries to lead a Godly life. Eventually, he dies and ascends to heaven, where He sits the throne and becomes God. Because of Adam and Eve and Jesus' coming, everybody must pray for forgiveness if they don’t want to burn in Hell.

If it isn’t already obvious to you from the creeds set forth in the previous paragraph, let me explain why tolerant Christians are terrible people. Tolerant Christians know that God condemns the unfaithful to Hell for eternity. They also know that their friends refuse to believe that Jesus Christ sits the throne; their friends pray to some other god(s) or no god(s) at all. But instead of trying to save their friends’ souls from condemnation, these Christians ignore the problem, usually in the name of protecting the friendship. These Christians are content to enjoy their friends’ companies, knowing that they are going to eternally burn in Hell (an outcome they might be able to change).

The other possibility is that these Christians know that their friends, according to the Bible, will burn in hell. They’re just not completely sure what happens in the afterlife. If this is the case, these Christians are what I call “maybe” Christians. They don’t actually believe (def'n believe - accept as truth) what is taught in the Bible, they only accept it as a possibility. "Maybe" Christians aren't nearly as bad as Tolerant Christians, but I still find "Maybe" Christianity a little annoying. "Maybe" Christians often claim to believe in Christianity, and they often go to Church every Sunday, which, to me, feels like ritual for the sake of ritual. To me, it feels like "Maybe" Christians are contributing to the feeling of meaninglessness that pervades society. But that's a different topic entirely.

I’m not arguing against tolerance. I don’t want modern crusades and religious wars; both should stay in the 17th century. I am simply suggesting that instead of applying tolerance to a religion that is by nature intolerant, change the belief itself. Make a neo-Christianity. Stop referencing a thousand-year-old book that you don’t even 100% believe in.
  
						Last edited by 2sh4r; 03-26-2014 at 02:16 AM.
Old 03-26-2014, 02:30 AM View Post #2 (Link)
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I'm... going to see where this goes, even though I suspect it's going to end in the bottomless pit of wrecked trains that is every religious debate ever. Another Mod might see differently, in which case feel free to close this, but I think maybe we can give another chance to this topic.

But everyone be aware that personal attacks against people, and their specific beliefs--whatever they may be--will not be tolerated. If you feel you have been attacked, do not be afraid to report a post, and the moderation team will decide if a comment is intelligent discussion, or petty squabbling, and take it from there.
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Old 03-26-2014, 02:34 AM View Post #3 (Link)
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Eh, I'm not feeling this.

There are so many different interpretations of the bible, even within the many sects of Christianity, that to define Christian morality so broadly is not really fair.

I'm also kind of confused as to what you believe. I know you're not religious, but are you arguing from a hypothetical standpoint in those first few paragraphs, say, from the perspective of a biblical literalist? Or are you actually calling these people terrible because they claim to believe in the bible when they're not taking it literally.

You should also be aware that people who call themselves certain things tend to fall short of those labels. Say someone calls him or herself a Marxist. That person may not entirely agree with everything that's in the Communist Manifesto. They may align more with Stalin, or Lenin, or Trotsky, or Arundhati Roy, or Jawaharlal Nehru, or might be some kind of synthesis between all them, a few of them, or may take their beliefs from none of them. This does not make that person any less a Marxist.

Now it would be one thing if a Christian claimed to be a Christian and went around praising Odin. That's clearly a direct contradiction. But people are allowed to have their own interpretations of the bible in accordance with their own life experiences. Perhaps there's more at stake in religion than in political beliefs (the eternal soul, for instance) and so perhaps we ought to approach the subject differently. Perhaps because the eternal soul is at stake less there ought to be less interpretation. The bible says what the bible says, so why should people be cherry picking at it?

Well, religion changes with time, as does the perception of religion. There will always be people advocating theocracy, but times have changed. Our social structure has changed. The way individuals perceive themselves in relation to the universe has changed. As such, fewer people rely on dogmatic (I would call it hyper-dogmatic) interpretations of the bible. So really, is it even relevant to make the kind of argument your making when the notion of dogmatism has changed so drastically from when the bible was written and interpreted so literally?

Christianity has already undergone drastic changes in the past, so is there any reason that modern Christianity would have to be considered neo-Christianity?

Edit: What Infinity_Man said, too.
 
Old 03-26-2014, 02:44 AM View Post #4 (Link)
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There are so many different interpretations of the bible, even within the many sects of Christianity, that to define Christian morality so broadly is not really fair.
Right, but the major ones that I am aware of still believe in Hell and the devil and natural sin (the entire point of baptism). Perhaps I am wrong. Like I said, I am no expert on Christianity.

I'm also kind of confused as to what you believe. I know you're not religious, but are you arguing from a hypothetical standpoint in those first few paragraphs, say, from the perspective of a biblical literalist? Or are you actually calling these people terrible because they claim to believe in the bible when they're not taking it literally.
I'm sorry if I was unclear. The main point of the entire essay was this: if Christians believe that all people of other faiths go to Hell, and they have friends who are of other faiths, and they don't try to convert these friends, they are bad friends.

I wanted to make this point because I've seen many Christians do this. Perhaps I got carried away in writing the point.

They're not terrible because they interpret the bible incorrectly. They're terrible because they know their friends are going to Hell and don't try to save them.

Now it would be one thing if a Christian claimed to be a Christian and went around praising Odin. That's clearly a direct contradiction. But people are allowed to have their own interpretations of the bible in accordance with their own life experiences. Perhaps there's more at stake in religion than in political beliefs (the eternal soul, for instance) and so perhaps we ought to approach the subject differently. Perhaps because the eternal soul is at stake less there ought to be less interpretation. The bible says what the bible says, so why should people be cherry picking at it?

Well, religion changes with time, as does the perception of religion. There will always be people advocating theocracy, but times have changed. Our social structure has changed. The way individuals perceive themselves in relation to the universe has changed. As such, fewer people rely on dogmatic (I would call it hyper-dogmatic) interpretations of the bible. So really, is it even relevant to make the kind of argument your making when the notion of dogmatism has changed so drastically from when the bible was written and interpreted so literally?
In my fourth paragraph, I was simply arguing against people believing in something for the sake of believing or because their parents believe in it. I thought that people should think about a belief or faith before committing to it. Once again, I apologize if that idea was not clearly portrayed. I do not believe that

As for relevancy, I would argue that these two points are at least a little relevant because I know many Christians who 1. believe for the sake of believing or 2. Believe that other religions go to Hell and still keep friends from those religions. Perhaps this is unique to Ithaca, New York.

And in my last paragraph, I argued that Christians who tolerate should just throw out the idea of Hell. Perhaps a lot already have. The ones I know haven't.
  
						Last edited by 2sh4r; 03-26-2014 at 03:05 AM.
Old 03-26-2014, 03:01 AM View Post #5 (Link)
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Originally Posted by 2sh4r View Post
If it isn’t already obvious to you from the creeds set forth in the previous paragraph, let me explain why tolerant Christians are terrible people. Tolerant Christians know that God condemns the unfaithful to Hell for eternity. They also know that their friends refuse to believe that Jesus Christ sits the throne; their friends pray to some other god(s) or no god(s) at all. But instead of trying to save their friends’ souls from condemnation, these Christians ignore the problem, usually in the name of protecting the friendship. These Christians are content to enjoy their friends’ companies, knowing that they are going to eternally burn in Hell (an outcome they might be able to change).
Dabs, I assume that the argument is a tad confusing at first because it's a devil's advocate argument. Like reading a piece by Jonathan Swift. The first quoted paragraph is a devil's advocate argument, right? We're supposed to find that line of thinking ridiculous, and so conclude that the belief system it's based on is a tad ridiculous as well.

But I think that the jump between the paragraph that describes the basic outline of Christian beliefs and the consequences of being a Tolerant Christian relies upon an assumption. And I don't know if that assumption holds. It assumes that one person can "save" another, that the testimony or persuasion from another normal person can bring around someone to belief. But what if that's not enough? What if true belief only comes from above, or from the inside, or from careful study? In that case, there would be no way for even the most devout person to persuade someone else to take up the faith.

Originally Posted by 2sh4r View Post
The other possibility is that these Christians know that their friends, according to the Bible, will burn in hell. They’re just not completely sure what happens in the afterlife. If this is the case, these Christians are what I call “maybe” Christians. They don’t actually believe (def'n believe - accept as truth) what is taught in the Bible, they only accept it as a possibility. "Maybe" Christians aren't nearly as bad as Tolerant Christians, but I still find "Maybe" Christianity a little annoying. "Maybe" Christians often claim to believe in Christianity, and they often go to Church every Sunday, which, to me, feels like ritual for the sake of ritual. To me, it feels like "Maybe" Christians are contributing to the feeling of meaninglessness that pervades society. But that's a different topic entirely
I'm not sure what you mean by the bolded sentence. Care to elaborate? To give examples? This is both damning and vague, so I think it's meant to get people annoyed, but it's not the assertion that bugs me. It's the vagueness. There's no point in engaging on this more deeply until I know what it means.

I also resist the idea that "ritual for the sake of ritual" is always a bad thing. Religion, whether Christian or not, is often part of people's heritage, their culture. To abandon all rituals that are not deeply felt can be to abandon culture. I would hate to leave behind the traditions that are important to me, that connect me to my family across time and across oceans - even if some of those traditions are religious when I am not.

Originally Posted by 2sh4r View Post
I’m not arguing against tolerance. I don’t want modern crusades and religious wars; both should stay in the 17th century. I am simply suggesting that instead of applying tolerance to a religion that is by nature intolerant, change the belief itself. Make a neo-Christianity. Stop referencing a thousand-year-old book that you don’t even 100% believe in.
I'm a little curious about how this proposal is different from what's been going on within Christianity basically the entire time it's been an established religion. Many denominations have changed how they interpret the written and unwritten traditions of the faith.
  
						Last edited by Isis; 03-26-2014 at 03:03 AM.
Old 03-26-2014, 03:09 AM View Post #6 (Link)
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haha I could say so much if I had the time. I don't.
I don't know of various religious traditions but I know the Bible relatively well. And the minds of many people who are devoted to it.

Originally Posted by 2sh4r View Post
All Christians believe in a very clear view of morality; every action is either a good one or a sin in the eyes of God.
So, saying "all" is very dangerous. Most statements that begin with "all" are untrue. (...as are many statements beginning with "most".)
Regardless of generalization, eating an apple for breakfast is neither a sin nor a virtue. There are many many neutral actions.

As I read this I realize, hey! a chance to use that quote I like so much, and never use.
Originally Posted by Pope Francis
Dialogue is born from an attitude of respect for the other person, from a conviction that the other person has something good to say.
What with the scare quotes, the lumping of Jesus' coming with Adam's, and so forth, I don't feel like you want a dialogue. The first paragraph mocks doctrine-- subtly? I don't think so, but I'm biased too. It raises hackles.

Stop referencing a thousand-year-old book that you don’t even 100% believe in.
Those who I know aren't just referencing the Bible: their faith is built on it! Those doctrines you mentioned in the first paragraph are pulled out of the Bible. The idea that one man can convert another. the idea that "friendship with the world is enmity with God". (that's a verse in James for the curious) Various churches interpret this differently; every person emphasizes different parts of the Bible. But what is Christianity without it?


ugh, debates about Christianity-- so messy. It often comes to tolerance vs. the Phelps and neither one is properly biblical.
  
						Last edited by lalodragon; 03-26-2014 at 03:13 AM.
Old 03-26-2014, 03:12 AM View Post #7 (Link)
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But I think that the jump between the paragraph that describes the basic outline of Christian beliefs and the consequences of being a Tolerant Christian relies upon an assumption. And I don't know if that assumption holds. It assumes that one person can "save" another, that the testimony or persuasion from another normal person can bring around someone to belief. But what if that's not enough? What if true belief only comes from above, or from the inside, or from careful study? In that case, there would be no way for even the most devout person to persuade someone else to take up the faith.
Right, but nobody knows that (as far as I know). For example, let me equate choosing a different religion to suicide. If I knew my friend was going to commit suicide, should I say, "I cannot change his decision, only he/she can do that for himself"? No. The responsible friend would tell an adult or somebody else they think they can help.

I'm not sure what you mean by the bolded sentence. Care to elaborate? To give examples? This is both damning and vague, so I think it's meant to get people annoyed, but it's not the assertion that bugs me. It's the vagueness. There's no point in engaging on this more deeply until I know what it means.
I apologize for the vagueness. I was not looking to anger anybody. What I meant was this: if you are a Christian who claims to believe for the sake of believing, ritual for the sake of ritual, pray because your parents do, then you are contributing to the meaninglessness of society.

I'm a little curious about how this proposal is different from what's been going on within Christianity basically the entire time it's been an established religion. Many denominations have changed how they interpret the written and unwritten traditions of the faith.
Like I said before, I'm pretty sure the majority of Christians and the major sects still believe that those of other religions go to Hell. Although some may be forming new sects, I'm saying why don't more people? Why are the new sects so small when they are more representative of modern Christian's beliefs?
 
Old 03-26-2014, 03:15 AM View Post #8 (Link)
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Okay, well, even still, I'm going to argue that modernity has affected Christianity in such a way that many Christians don't see heaven and hell as exclusive to Christians. Some people have no issue with me going to heaven even though I'm an atheist. They cite the cultural context in which the bible was written as her reasoning, that the way different societies and peoples were divided in the older era was, well, different than how we view the world now. They believe moral character supersedes a declaration of belief.

And religion is not suicide, so I don't see how you can equate the two. The specifics of those situations are vastly different.
 
Old 03-26-2014, 03:16 AM View Post #9 (Link)
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Originally Posted by 2sh4r View Post

I apologize for the vagueness. I was not looking to anger anybody. What I meant was this: if you are a Christian who claims to believe for the sake of believing, ritual for the sake of ritual, pray because your parents do, then you are contributing to the meaninglessness of society.
Sorry, my question wasn't precise enough. What do you mean by "the meaninglessness of society"? What about society is meaningless? What would a "meaningful society" look like, and how is ours different? What defines "meaning" in society?
 
Old 03-26-2014, 03:17 AM View Post #10 (Link)
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What with the scare quotes, the lumping of Jesus' coming with Adam's, and so forth, I don't feel like you want a dialogue. The first paragraph mocks doctrine-- subtly? I don't think so, but I'm biased too. It raises hackles.
I'm not sure what you mean by "scare quotes", but I am a skeptic, and I find many of those things hard to believe so thats why they might have sounded sarcastic or demeaning. I wasn't trying to create an argument, I apologize. In all honesty, I was trying to be a little humorous, but perhaps the subject matter is too sensitive.

But what is Christianity without it?
You can still believe in Jesus Christ without the Bible. A lot of Christians do already.
 
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