Monday, September 11, 2006

Jesus Camp: Training a New Generation of God's Soldiers

(Courtesy of Proper Study of Mankind)

I have to be honest, this scares me more than the possibility of a Muslim terrorist attacking me... check out this new documentary:

Jesus Camp Trailer

IMDB Description and Reviews

20 comments:

Discrete_Reader said...

If you wouldn't mind beginning a Logical Dialogue:

I am curious, why does this scare you "more than the possibility of a Muslim terrorist attacking" you?

Are you using hyperbole?

Or do you see these children causing you more physical pain than someone either cutting your head off with a butcher knife or exploding a vest filled with nails next to you?

Or are you making a point about the relative amount of psychological pain that exposure to these kids would cause you as opposed to a Muslim terrorist attacking you?

Or are you thinking of the long-term consequences of the innundation of the young with the ideology exhibited in the documentary and how those consequences scare you more than a Muslim terrorist attacking you would?

I am not trying to bait you or anything, I just was intrigued by your statement.

Self-disclosure (please, no flames - I am being honest here):

I am a Computer Programmer with a BS degree in Computer Science.

I am a Christian and have no 'deal-breaker' type of disagreements with most of what is in the film (what I have seen of it).
I do, however disagree with most 'Fundamentalists' on several peripheral issues (the ones that are usually 'hot button' issues).

I do realize that the Universe is between 12 and 20 Billion years old and do not agree that there was a flood that physically covered the entire surface of the earth.

I am told by Christians, Agnostics, Atheists and Pagans alike that I am a very rational person; and I would appreciate a chance to rationally discuss these things with you.

A dialogue of logic, if you please - as opposed to a Diatribe without logic.

Thivai Abhor said...

Identify yourself and I'll discuss this more.

Simply put, I have been attacked by Christians (physically), I have been spit on by Christians, I have been told that I will burn in Hell by Christians, I have witnessed Christians in my country (the U.S.A.) bomb, shoot and otherwise harm people who they disagree with... more terrorist acts in the U.S. have been committed by Christians than Muslims.

I don't dislike Christians, but the fanatical ones scare me.

I have yet to have a Muslim do anything to me or a loved one (sorry the Abhor family are not military people) and obviously they haven't been "cutting [my] head off with a butcher knife or exploding a vest filled with nails next to you?"

Discrete_Reader said...

Thivai,

Thank you for your patient response.

How much Identity do you want?

I have been attacked by Non-Christians (In the Media and in Court) so I am acquainted with the reticence you show.

I am in Kansas and have no interest in attacking you (physically, rhetorically or otherwise) and can see no way that both of us revealing our identities will help our discussion in any way (Of course, If I revealed my identity to you I would expect the same courtesy from you).

This answer is not a "NO" it is more like a "What would you use the information for?"

Thivai Abhor said...

My identity is all over this blog (including my real name) so it wouldn't take anyone long to figure out who I am.

No problem, I understand people being hesistant about revealing themselves.

The reason I asked is because I am hesistant to develop dialogues with faceless people. I do engage with many pseudonymous bloggers, but they have constructed identities in which they have invested their time and thus I feel confident that I am dealing with "someone" even when it is a constructed persona and that this someone has a stake in their personality and how it is perceived. Now it isn't a matter of me being skeptical about your existence, or engaging in posthuman skepticism, rather it is a defensive measure. I'm here, I've exposed myself by putting up this blog, and you are opaque, if not invisible. I have no desire to engage with ghosts as they are immaterial and difficult to get a hold of... while I enjoy ambiguity, in this case I would need a place with which to stand in my discussion with you.

You will note I responded to your questions, perhaps while deciding whether you will reveal yourself, or not, you might address the answer you asked for...

Peace

DiscreteReader said...

Thivai,

Again thank you for your answer.

To address the answer you gave:

OK. That makes perfect sense.
Let me know if I'm reading you correctly.

You seem to be weighing the relative probability of you being personally attacked by a Christian terrorist vs. the probability of you being personally attacked by a Muslim terrorist.

Given that America's Muslim population is around 1%.
And given that only a tiny minority of Muslims carry out terrorist attacks.
The conclusion is that there is a very small chance that a Muslim terrorist would ever attack you personally.

On the other hand,
Given that America's 'committed' Christian population is significantly higher than 1%
And given the assumption that the same percentage of Christians carry out attacks as do Muslims.
The conclusion is that the odds are greater that in the event of a religiously-motivated terrorist attack on your person, the attacker would be saying "Jesus Is Lord" rather than "Alluha Akbar."


Is that right?


About Identity.

I am an incorrigable philosopher and am very intrigued by your statements.

You say you don't like to engage in dialogue with 'faceless people' or 'ghosts.'

Your reason is twofold: One, your identity is easy to find. Two, that 'ghosts' are 'hard to get ahold of…'

The first one makes perfect sense, you want us to be on equal ground.

The second one worries me a bit. It goes to the heart of my question to you: 'what would you do with the information?'

The reason for my reluctance is truly unfortunate. In october, I will be brought before the state Supreme Court by someone who is attacking me without cause. The law firm representing my opponent is well-known for their no-holds-barred style of attack. Because they are aware of my profession (computer programmer), I fully expect them to be running constant searches for my name on the internet and trying to use anything they find against me.

Strangely enough, I am also tied to a very high-profile capital murder trial that was prosecuted in North Dakota in 2000. My current opponent does not know this and would go absolutely nuts if this information was known to them.

Thirdly, I know personally several of the people in the Jesus Camp film and my opponent would also use that information against me.

The plain fact of the matter is that I CANNOT have my name on the internet at this time.

The philosopher in me wonders: how could you believe the name I give you without breaking my confidence and checking up on me? And if the answer is that you would trust me, how does having that arbitrary (absent a physical meeting) information build trust?

The Christian in me trusts in God to protect me as I act wisely and so if you will give me your word that you will not dig for info about me, I will give you my name.

I would want to email it to you and trust you to delete it without posting it.

Thivai Abhor said...

discrete reader,

no need to send me your name, you just made yourself material enough for me--please continue to be the discrete reader (and commentator)

good luck with the legal difficulties

Discrete_Reader said...

Thank you kindly, thivai.

Did I 'read you right'?

Is your statement about the movie scaring you a statement about your own personal physical safety from attacks by 'committed' Christians?

Thivai Abhor said...

I was saying that I have been "physcially" attacked by Christians in the past--more than once.

... but what scares me is any monologic thought (or belief) system that demonizes those that think (or believe) differently. One need only look back to the bloody 20th Century (and unfortunately into the 21st Century) to see where that will take us ...

Thivai Abhor said...

hah, nothing like mispelling a word that one puts in quotes

Discrete_Reader said...

The fact that you are able to laugh at yourself makes you 'material' to me.

For, me I laugh at myself because of peer pressure...

I agree that a 'monologic thought (or belief) system that demonizes those that think (or believe) differently. is a very dangerous thing.

Belief Systems that leave no room for accepting others who disagree are indeed scary.

Have you heard of 'The Black Book of Communism: Crimes, Terror, Repression' by Stephane Courtois et. al.? It reliably documents that Communism was directly responsible for civilian deaths on the order of 100 Million in 'the bloody 20th Century.'

And as monologic belief systems go, Atheistic Communism is one of the worst.

I think that a common fallacy that we fall into when thinking of worldwide movements is the logical fallacy of composition (i.e. reasoning from the properties of the parts of the whole to the properties of the whole itself).

It usually takes this form with respect to religion:

1) Tribal Polytheists believe that their (Main) God created the universe.

2) Muslims believe their God created the universe.

3) Therefore Islam and Tribal Polytheists worship the same God.

Or this:

1) Satanists believe Satan is God's enemy.

2) Christians believe Satan is God's enemy.

3) Therefore Christianity and Satanism are the same religion.

If one looks at two belief (thought) systems at a 'high' enough degree of generalization, one can conclude that they are equivalent, which can lead to some rather extreme conclusions.

For Example:

1) The Tsarist Government Ruled Russia in the early 20th Century, using sometimes brutal tactics.

2) The Soviet Communist Government ruled Russia in the early 20th Century, using sometimes brutal tactics.

3) Therefore these two belief systems are the same; which means that the Tsars would have also become an officially Atheistic State, eventually starved, killed or imprisoned 25 Million Russians, allied with Hitler, later rejected Hitler, joined the Allies against Hitler in WWII, later oppose the Allies, Lose the Cold War in 1991 with the falling of the Berlin Wall (which they would have built on August 13, 1961).

I know that is a fanciful example, but it conveys the point as to how dangerous (to the Truth) such a fallacy can be.

To be clear, I am not speaking about your personal experiences (though I would like to ask you about them later if you wouldn't mind).

I am speaking about the 'Judaism, Christianity and Islam all worship the same God.' meme.

If you are in contact with any Muslims, ask them if they worship the God of the Jews (pronounced in English: 'Yahweh' or 'Jehovah'),

and then ask them if they worship the God of Christianity - who has a Son named Jesus who is Also God.

If they deny Jesus as the Son of God having Divine Nature in Himself (specifically ask them what is written on the border around the inside of the ceiling of the Dome of the Rock), then they have excluded themselves from the group of 'those who worship the same God as Christians.'

If they try to say "The Bible is Wrong" then they also have excluded themselves from the group of 'those who worship the same God as Christians,' because one of the main tenets of Christianity is that God's nature, attributes and actions are accurately (not Exhaustively, or even Thoroughly) described in the Bible (meaning the original Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic autographs - of which we have copies older than the Koran).

Sorry for such a long post but Truth is my Passion and I occasionally am relentless in pursuit of it.

I typed NONE of this post with the intent of being offensive, so if any of it is, I apologize and would appreciate you pointing it out to me so I can be clearer about what I meant.

Thank you again for your patience and dialogue. I am enjoying the exchange.

P.S. I saw an advanced screening of 'Jesus Camp' Wednesday evening and I am on screen for about two seconds; I say nothing and am easy to miss. I was dressed in a nondescript manner, sitting still - not looking very 'holy' or 'fanatical' at all. I am shown as a member of the audience in the Church auditorium (beige walls) in the first 5 minutes of the film, NOT at the 'Camp' auditorium (brown walls) - I have never been to the camp in North Dakota.

Thivai Abhor said...

Your comment is thoughtful and extensive, but I can narrow it down to one thing that I might agree on:

"Belief Systems that leave no room for accepting others who disagree are indeed scary."

Period

Discrete_Reader said...

Agreed.

With the minor clarification that accepting a person and accepting a person's ideas as true are two very different things.

For example:
We would (and should) accept without condemnation a family member who has a heroin addiction, but we would (and should) stop short of accepting that family member's ideas as true, such as the idea that heroin use is a good and practical answer to dealing with the pain of life's problems.

Thank you for you many kind words and for your open-mindedness. I hope you go see the movie to decide for yourself whether it is truly scary.

Two points to keep in mind while watching:

1) ALL of the 'warfare' talk is metaphorical - as is explicitly made clear in the movie. The warfare metaphor of a Spritual 'battle' comes directly from the Bible. It is somewhat similar to the Islamic appropriation of the concept (they call it 'greater jihad' - the physically violent warfare is what the Muslims call 'lesser jihad')

2) Logically speaking, if God really does exist and really has spoken through the Bible, then everything the people in the movie are doing makes perfect sense.

Please make sure you are not pre-judging Christians as being wrong that God exists and about the absolute historical fact that Jesus really did rise from the dead. Please keep an open mind.

Remember 'Judge Not.' :-)

Grace to you and Peace from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ (traditional First Century Christian Salutation).

Thivai Abhor said...

Discret Metaphor,

Thanks for your open-mindedness in discussing these issues and you have pushed me to think about some positions I hold, but I must pull out a statement that you make, that, for me, is very troubling:

Your statement for me to remember that "ALL of the 'warfare' talk is metaphorical"

We construct our understanding of the world through metaphors and such heavy emphasis on a particular framework will bleed over into other relations we have in the world. These metaphors, what we think, and what we communicate to each other, have very real and concrete effects on our actions in the world. Also when these metaphors become powerful enough to influence large social groups they also influence legislation and institutions. The groups portrayed in Jesus Camp do have a big influence in our society and we should be free to be critical of their metaphors and to imagine the logical implications of their usage of those metaphors.

I think you realize this and it makes me question your purpose when you make a statement like the above one.

Thivai Abhor said...

Oh, one more thing, you ask me not to pre-judge Christians. Why not? Do Christians pre-judge all other faiths/knowledge based upon their own narrow framework of biblical/theological understanding? Should Christians then cloak themselves in a mantle of openness and patience (not talking about tolerance--we are talking about remaining open to the possibilities of the faith/knowledge being discussed) when others assess their words/ideas/actions, while they deny it to all groups that do not follow their faith?

Discrete_Reader said...

I am sorry, I was being unclear in an attempt to avoid 'religious' language. When I said the warfare language was metaphorical, I meant that the warfare language in the movie is Sprirtual.

I did not think you would be familiar with the concept of 'Spiritual Warfare,' so I chose the word 'Metaphorical' instead.

I apologize for the misunderstanding.

What is meant by 'Sprirtual Warfare' is using the inherent Sprirtual Authority in humans (which was abdicated when Adam sinned, but restored when Christ Ressurected) to command the Demonic rulers that inhabit certain specific areas of this world to Cease, Desist and Leave. THAT is what I meant by 'Metaphorical.'

In The New Testament, the concept is addressed thus: "For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places." [emphasis mine]

And again "For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds; Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God..." [Emphasis Mine]

The overwhelming teaching of the New Testament is to eschew personal violence. The warfare mentioned is soley directed against Demonic Entities and Wrong Ideas (strong holds, above).

All of the Warfare language in the movie is 1) Spiritual and 2) Directly inspired from the pages of the New Testament.

What that means is that if someone has a problem with the 'Warfare' language in the Bible, they may not understand that it explicitly EXCLUDES physical violence.
(Those who attacked you were acting outside the bounds of Christianity, much like someone who drives drunk is acting outside the bounds of traffic law resulting in death and destruction, but the fact that some people act outside the bounds of traffic laws does not invalidate those laws, it proves their necessity!)

It also means that Christians using the concept of Sprirtual Warfare as modeled in the New Testament are not being violent, but following the example of the New Testament, i.e. being faithful to the Holy Scriptures.

About what you said:


(not talking about tolerance--we are talking about remaining open to the possibilities of the faith/knowledge being discussed) when others assess their words/ideas/actions, while they deny it to all groups that do not follow their faith?


My statement was a sad attempt at humor.

The issue here is that Christians did not invent Christianity, Jesus did and Jesus did not leave us the freedom to disbelieve what He said and yet remain Christians.

The tricky part is that people who urge openness to all belief systems rarely ever approach Christianity with their prescribed openness.

I have found that most all of the objections to Christianity start with the premise that it is false.

The tone is like this:

"Since miracles don't happen, Jesus could not possibly have risen from the dead, and Christians are wrong to say that he is God." But the presupposition here is prejudicial and closed-minded. I was urging you not to approach the critique of the behavior of Christians with the assumption that they are wrong in what they assert.

I believe it would be much more helpful in understanding the motivations of Christians to start with something like the following mindset:

"If what they assert to be historical fact is actually true (i.e. that Jesus is God), are they acting rationally?"

Regretfully, I have never heard anyone ever approach Christianity from that viewpoint (If Christianity is True, are Christians acting Rationally).

The dilemma is that those who preach and value tolerance are usually INTOLERANT of Christianity's Truth claims.

The distinction is that Christianity preaches and values tolerance of people, but NOT of Ideas; Jesus disallows the acceptance of the Idea that He was not sent from God.

Christianity values Truth in Ideas and Tolerance in people.
With Truth being the Conformation of ideas to Objective Reality, and we can know Objective Reality because Jesus who said "I Am the Truth" makes it known to us, thus avoiding the solipsistic dilemma of biased sensory equipment because of an infinitely perfect impartial (from our perspective) Observer.

I think it boils down to this:
1) Non-Christians say we should accept everyone's ideas, but don't accept Christianity's ideas.
2) Christians are forbidden by Jesus to accept ideas that contradict His ideas. The result of doing so is that one steps outside the set of people who are Christians (i.e. "followers of Christ").

It is not a judgement, but a tautology: If you stop following Christ, you have stopped being a follower of Christ.

Thank you again for this valuable discussion.

Thivai Abhor said...

Discrete Reader,

Once again thank you for your response. I still have some problems with your discourse (big shock I'm sure):

1) You can clock the militaristic metaphors in what every scriptures you want, but the simple fact is that it leads to bloodshed eventually. Maybe not directly and maybe not intentionally, but the words we use to construct our realities are very important and shape our relations with others. What is the effect on young people taught that those who reject their faith or think differently are influenced by the bad spirits they are at war with in this grand spiritual battle (and the Muslims have had the same problem along these lines--as have most dogmatic religions)

2 You state:

"The issue here is that Christians did not invent Christianity, Jesus did and Jesus did not leave us the freedom to disbelieve what He said and yet remain Christians."

You are very knowledgable about your religion so I'm not going to insult you by thinking I have to tell you that Paul and his colleagues "invented" Christianity after Jesus was killed.

3) You state:

"The tricky part is that people who urge openness to all belief systems rarely ever approach Christianity with their prescribed openness."

You reap what you sow... you condemn all 'other' beliefs/faiths systems? Let those without sin cast the first stone in this regard?

4) You state:

--------------------------------
"The dilemma is that those who preach and value tolerance are usually INTOLERANT of Christianity's Truth claims.

The distinction is that Christianity preaches and values tolerance of people, but NOT of Ideas; Jesus disallows the acceptance of the Idea that He was not sent from God.

Christianity values Truth in Ideas and Tolerance in people.
With Truth being the Conformation of ideas to Objective Reality, and we can know Objective Reality because Jesus who said "I Am the Truth" makes it known to us, thus avoiding the solipsistic dilemma of biased sensory equipment because of an infinitely perfect impartial (from our perspective) Observer."
----------------------------

Really, the bloody footprints of Christianity across this world would speak differently about its tolerance of people. Once again this disregard for the countless people killed/colonized and oppressed in the name of Christianity is not something you need to be told, so I must just assume that you are trying to pull the wool over my eyes.

Christianity as a thought-system absolutely links the ideas to the person and condemns both... what is needed to be saved and what will lead to our eternal damnation? Ideas=People/Souls in Christianity.

5) Lets get this straight from my end (and in this you could say I am an ass ;)

I could care less if any Christians change their mind. I don't care if they listen to me or anyone else. What I do care about is the harm that they cause people who believe differently from them--now more than ever that we have a fundamentalist in the White House.

6) Quit trying to confuse the issue by saying Non-christians want us to accept all ideas/beliefs. What a load of crap... attempt to understand your opponents as you ask them to understand you.

Peace

Discrete_Reader said...

Here is where we get to see if we can still have an enlightening dialogue now that we have uncovered some real disagreements!

I am really enjoying corresponding with you. It is also making me revisit some of my own ideas (always a good thing).

No time for a full response, here is a partial one:

You Said:

You are very knowledgeable about your religion so I'm not going to insult you by thinking I have to tell you that Paul and his colleagues "invented" Christianity after Jesus was killed.

That is a very interesting formulation:

1) You say that I am very knowledgeable about my religion.
2) You then say that I am aware that my religion is a sham made up by a conniving charlatan.

Does that strike you as odd also?

If my religion is indeed false, why am I bothering to speak about it as if it is true?

Are you accusing me of believing that Jesus didn't have anything to do with Christianity except as a convenient martyr?

Do you honestly think I believe what you are asserting about Paul and yet still said what I did about Jesus inventing Christianity?

Do you honestly think I am that pathological?

Do you honestly think I am that cynical and false?

Do you honestly think I would INTENTIONALLY spread such a lie as that?

Do you honestly think I would violate my own conscience by asserting things as truth, things that I don't believe to be true, just to make some debating points against a total stranger whom I will never meet?

What possible motive could I have for lying to you in such an odious manner?

Your civil tone and continued openness to this discussion (both very much appreciated) argue against the idea that you think I am such a monster.

It seems like you have not thought that accusation through.

Have you read the writings of theologian Rudolf Bultmann? He was the leader of the group of German theologians who came up with the idea that Paul 'invented' Christianity.

The problem with Bultmann and the others is the same problem I referenced earlier: Because he Started with the unproven assumption that Miracles are Impossible, he tried to find a way to explain Christianity without miracles and without insulting Jesus. So he made Jesus the victim of a conniving Jewish charlatan named Paul (such a theory had the added benefit of blaming the Jews yet again for the ills of the world.).

It is a wonderful theory, lacking only in one thing: proof.

Butlmann's theories have been discredited by the science of textual criticism in the last 25 years and his insistence on 'the historical Jesus,' as opposed to the traditional 'Kergyma' basis for Christian Hermeneutics have been abandoned because they did not stand up to close scrutiny.

As Blaise Pascal (who was by ANY standard eminently rational) said: 'There can be no rational basis for not believing in miracles.' Bultmann built on an unstable foundation and his house has crumbled.


You Said:

You can clock the militaristic metaphors in what every scriptures you want,


I think you are laboring under a false assumption. It seems that your assumption is that the 'militaristic metaphors' exist independent of the 'scriptures' that mention them, and that the 'scriptures' are used to cloak the 'militaristic metaphors' and grant them legitimacy.
The opposite is true.

The 'scriptures' existed before Christianity did - the earliest known copy of the gospel of Mark was written in the 4th decade of the first century, a mere decade after Jesus was crucified and resurrected.

This was before the word 'Christian' even existed – that word was first used as an insult, BTW (plus ca change…).

A personal aside on 'militaristic metaphors' leading to violence:

I am not a violent person, at great personal cost I have resisted using violence to solve my problems.

In fact, here is an example regarding the person who is taking me to court, who is specifically targeting my children in this attack (to the point of threats to rape my 7-year old daughter): in the last year I have had to turn down two serious offers to have this person assassinated so as to make it look like an accident and therefore untraceable to me. The person who offered literally begged me to give my assent to the killing, I refused both times and will forever reject such courses of action. --I have told this story to family and friends to disperse any secrecy about it and to make it all the more absurd that I would ever choose such a thing, especially now that several people know about it.

But the fact that I am personally pacifistic does not alter one way or another the fact that the scriptures say exactly what they say.
The militaristic language is, at the end of the day, in the scripture and cannot be expunged without changing the scripture.

The scriptures cannot be used to cloak something that appears on their own pages.

Thivai Abhor said...

You ignore both of my points.

1) Jesus did not "create" Christianity. He was working within the Jewish religion and challenging it to live up to its potential. Christianity started after he was dead, thus he could not have started it.

2) My concern is not that the scriptures has militaristic metaphors (although they do) rather it is the Christians in the film's usage of militaristic metaphors to train their children for an impending holy war and the effect that will have on them (expecially in demonizing the Other)



Furthermore, just so we can clear this up, my discipline is textual criticism, and your notion of a science of textual criticism is amusing... it ignores the basic concepts of text construction and the dialogic nature of textual creation and interpretation(s)


Last, but not least, why the long rant about my misguided notions about who you are... you intentionally remained anonymous and unknown--why would you expect me to ever have a clue about who you are or what your motivations are...

By the way, was the potetential assassin a Christian? You may have a cooler head, but that doesn't mean that other misguided believers may take these militaristic metaphors in whole new, bloodier direction.

Discrete_Reader said...

I am sorry if I ignored your points (it was unintentional), I will try to address them now.


1) Jesus did not "create" Christianity. He was working within the Jewish religion and challenging it to live up to its potential. Christianity started after he was dead, thus he could not have started it.


From what is apparently your perspective, you are correct. Jesus said ""Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill."

So you are right. Jesus was indeed working within the Jewish religion and challenging it to live up to its potential. What I think you may not realize is that Christianity is defined as the 'potential' of the Jewish religion. Jesus, when questioned by the High Priest, said that He Himself was indeed the expected Jewish Messiah.

I will go so far as to agree with you that what is generally supposed to be Christianity in the world today is nowhere near what Jesus intends it to be.

Some of us who are followers of Jesus and are sick of religiosity as expressed in most 'Christian' churches, call this sad parody of religion "Churchianity" – a term of extreme disgust.

So, we agree that the entire narrow-minded, legalistic, loveless religion commonly thought of when people say "Christianity" is worse than worthless.

On to your second sentence:

If I am understanding you correctly, your point here exactly proves that my earlier warning was prescient.

You appear to be saying that Jesus died and had no further impact on Christianity. The problem with this is that it goes against the word of several reliable eyewitnesses. Have you ever seen the book "More than a carpenter"? It deals very well with the idea of 'historical/legal' proof as opposed to empirical proof.

An analogy:
The fact that Abraham Lincoln lived cannot be empirically proven, because it is not a repeatable event.

However the fact that Abraham Lincoln lived can be proven by Legal/Historical methods.

I'm sure you are aware of these things, given your field.

BTW, If I may ask, what is your Job? Do you specialize in Higher or Lower Criticism (I just read the Wikipedia articles – not trying to salvage any pride here) Do you authenticate literary texts? Are you an archaeologist? I am curious.

And I apologize if I misspoke on textual criticism. I am content to let you be the expert on the subject.

I will restate my point:
If one assumes that Jesus Christ did not do the miracles that were recorded by eyewitnesses because one believes that miracles are impossible;
if one assumes that Jesus did not rise from the dead also on the basis of the prior belief that miracles are impossible;
if one assumes that Jesus did not ascend from the Mount of Olives until he was hidden from sight by a cloud again based on the prior belief that miracles are impossible;

then one has descended into denying eyewitness (and reliable second hand) accounts based on one's own prejudices and has made assumptions about the possibility or impossibility of certain events based on Faith (in a mechanistic universe) rather than Reason. Remember Pascal's quote on miracles.


I have observed that what appears to be missing from nearly all objections to Christianity's doctrines is the assumption that God is actively involved in each Christian's life. It is almost as if people are trying to prove to a child that Santa Clause does not exist by deconstructing 'The Night Before Christmas;' having begun with the assumption that it cannot possibly be true.

And on that point, I have no hope of 'winning you over' or 'convincing you.' That has never been my intention.

My entire intention (past curiosity about your initial statement) is to urge you to analyze Christian behavior

With the assumptions that :

Jesus actually did physically appear on earth;
did physically perform several miracles;
did physically die;
did physically rise from the dead;
and, significantly, did 'shepherd' the writing of the Bible to preserve exactly what He wanted preserved in the text.

But most importantly that He currently speaks to His followers and helps them to understand correctly His original intent in any given scripture passage. (That is the answer to the problem of irrelevance of the authorial intent – The Author still speaks!)

If these things are not true, then Christianity is a hopeless sham that makes no logical sense and resembles a Gnostic, Patriarchal system of Social Control and Oppression based on an evil lie from the very beginning. As St. Paul said "If Christ has not risen, we are to be pitied above all men."

But if these things are True, then the behavior of Christians (even those seen in the film) makes Complete Logical Sense.

Consider These Two Statements:

Christianity is dangerous and oppressive ONLY if it is FALSE
Otherwise it is "Good News"

A Root Canal is intentional brutal torture ONLY if the necessity for one is FALSE!
Otherwise it is "Good Medicine"

I am asking you, when you evaluate the behaviors in the movie, to assume that Christ is Currently Alive and Interacting with His Followers on a daily basis. Given that fact, what the movie shows makes sense.


2) My concern is not that the scriptures has militaristic metaphors (although they do) rather it is the Christians in the film's usage of militaristic metaphors to train their children for an impending holy war and the effect that will have on them (expecially in demonizing the Other)

I apologize for assuming that you did not see the militaristic metaphors in the New Testament.
(LOL! I almost typed 'methaphors' – would those be analogies of concepts translated into the language of methamphetamine usage?)

I would ask you to watch the entire movie and listen carefully and you will note that nowhere are the children taught to 'demonize the Other.' Significantly, the only things that Christians are taught to demonize are actual Demons!
The one place where Becky (yes, I do know her personally) does get rather intense (detrimentally, to my mind) is about Harry Potter. But even then she is saying "IF this were in the Old Testament" thereby removing it from the universe of things that could happen today. And I guarantee that EACH of those children knows exactly what the phrase "If this were in the Old Testament" means – it is a cultural understanding that entails God physically appearing and speaking in the hearing of all the people of the nation and directing such punishments. The fact that there will not be another Theocracy is something is taught from earliest youth.
That does not mean that we should be fatalistic about Governmental Corruption, though.
For example, when the children are chanting "Righteous Judges," it was just after they had been taught that the Concept of Righteousness in the Bible means Social Justice! Justice extended to, among others, the unborn. I was in that meeting and heard it myself.

I understand the idea of unintended consequences - that if a teaching might be abused, one should question including the teaching in one's religion. That restraint has merit in itself. What one must be careful of, is being an "Editor" rather than a "Disciple." The question is "do we have permission to change Christianity?"

What weighs in favor of retaining the militaristic metaphors is their very existence in so many places in Scripture.
Spiritual Warfare is an accurate description of the Human Condition. Jesus Himself said "I did not come to bring peace, but a sword," speaking of the emotional division that His message would cause even within families.

To try to put you a bit more at ease: From childhood, Christians are taught to "Love the Sinner, Hate the Sin."
Humans are portrayed as the precious objects of God's Love who are the Victims of Demons (in the extreme case of Possession), much like a Hostage Crisis.
Similarly, if a rescuer kills the hostage, the rescuer has failed completely.

It is taught many times, many ways; over and over and over again.

There is no teaching of a physical "Holy War" coming up, that is Islam's teaching.

Christianity does teach about periods of increased Spiritual Warfare, but it is ALWAYS explicitly separated from the concept of physical violence.

Jesus said "The Son of Man did not come into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him."

The emphasis, over and over again is to "Save people, not destroy them" – Jesus used that language.

I guess I am just trying to convey the point that there is a continuous and overriding emphasis on the fact that Spiritual Warfare is "Spiritual" and NEVER EVER physical.

We are taught as followers of Christ, to NEVER harm people on our own authority or even under the Church's authority. There is a very sharp dividing line drawn between Church Authority and Secular Authority. Everything the Church ever does must preserve the freewill of the individual – there is a permanent 'opt out' clause.

Christianity leaves NO room for Vigilante Justice.

If an individual, acting on their own authority, is physically attacking someone in the name of Jesus then I can categorically state that they are a Heretic and are not following Christianity. And every Christian Church you care to ask the question would say the same.


I hope I addressed your points.

About the 'Long Rant.'

I am Sorry that I got a bit carried away.

I was trying to convey the idea that in order to write my first few posts the way I did, I would have to be sinister and cynical and corrupt, IF I believed what you assert about the nature of Christianity. Because I kept saying "Jesus said" and "Jesus invented" and if I said those things while knowing all the time that Jesus DID NOT 'invent it,' that would be a lie of monstrous proportions – I would be using religion for my own ends all the while knowing it is a complete sham.

And on THAT basis alone, namely the difference between what I wrote and what you assumed I knew (namely that Paul 'invented' Christianity), I was assuming that you would be able to assume my perfidy or at least insanity.

About the Assassin:
No, the assassin was not a Christian.

About negative consequences to militaristic metaphors:

The fact that Jesus does indeed communicate with those who follow Him helps keep His followers from misunderstanding Him.
N.B. – Hearing Jesus's communication is not automatic, one must listen. The best of us do, the worst don’t. And the ones who willfully ignore Him are the ones who both you and I are opposed to.

If I have bored you with discussing this, I apologize.

I bore myself sometimes.

Bottom line (*looks down* well, almost) I agree with you that people who are Devoid of any True Relationship with A Living Person named Jesus, and who whip themselves and others into an emotional frenzy, these people are dangerous and scary and that their activities should be stopped before they do more harm.

I am saying that there are those of us who DO have a True Relationship with A Living Person named Jesus, and that we are not the same as the ones you are 'scared' of.

I have run out of time to answer all of your challenges and assertions, but be assured I have thought about each one of them.

I wish you healing for the wounds that those Heretics gave you, I am disgusted that they would claim to be Christians and yet act so Satanically.

Peace on you and yours.

Discrete_Reader

Thivai Abhor said...

Thanks Discrete Reader, for your lon, impassioned apologia (not apology, the "apologia" genre, as in theoretical defense of one's beliefs)

I do not wish to change your, or any other Christian's beliefs. I think there is much of benefit in your, and most, religions.

On the other hand, I will not disabuse myself of the opinion that people that truck in militaristic metaphors are not going down a dangerous path.

I hope the progressive members of your faith come out on top in your great spiritual struggle. In that you have my support--peace.