Tuesday, September 22, 2009

A Case for God

"RELIGION IS STUPID, MURDEROUS, BIGOTED A...Image by ruSSeLL hiGGs via Flickr
This is the best 40 minute talk I have ever heard on religion and G-d.  Karen Armstrong puts into words pretty much exactly where I am on G-d and religion now.  The first few minutes describe pretty much what I think about G-d.  I found it particularly fascinating when she talked about how the scientific age has given rise to two relatively new phenomenon- atheism and fundamentalism.  I hope both my atheist and fundamentalist friends will give this a listen (that means you, Jon).

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=112968197
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48 comments:

Kansas Bob said...

I listened to it all Brian and I have to say that Karen comes across as a bit of a dogmatist. She makes sweeping statements like (not verbatim quotes):

: Yahweh was a symbol of the ultimate reality

: Literalism was not prevalent before 16th century

: Religion is about dealing with sorrow, finding meaning in life and living in relationship with transcendence

: prayer is not what God is all about


I felt like I was listening to someone like John McArthur being interviewed and making all sorts of narrow statements about religion and God. Of course her dogmatism is very gray in nature and masquerades a bit as an intellectual approach.

I think that people who are deemed "experts" often project this kind of arrogant certainty in what they espouse.

Of course she does end the interview with the caveat that even though she does not experience a personal God she does not view it as negative as long as compassion comes from a person's experiences with God.

Guess I was a bit disappointed.. maybe I was just expecting more.

brian said...

Thanks for your thoughts, Bob. I can see what you mean. She did kind of soften some of her more dogmatic statements at the end regarding a personal G-d, as you pointed out. I guess you have a problem with her claims about YHWH being a symbol of the ultimate reality. I guess that's the way I see it, too. The Jews were very careful (unlike those around them) to make no images of YHWH. I was thinking of that after listening to the interview and how when Christianity emerged from Judaism, we started drawing Greek-like images of G-d. From what I've read, literalism was not prevalent before the 16th century (prevalent being the operative word there, not non-existent). I don't have a problem with her quote about religion, too much. I wouldn't say it's a complete summary. But, I think she means that as opposed to answering questions of science.

Not everything will resonate with every one. Sorry to give you a bum steer.

Peace,
Brian

Kansas Bob said...

No problem Brian.. we in KC like our bum steers with a bit of BBQ sauce :)

I guess I saw Karen as someone on one side of the theological fence who seemed to look down at others who saw things differently then she.

Just because she doesn't believe in a personal God does not make her right (or wrong).. but possibly her dogmatic biases shuts her mind down to other views?

Perhaps she is more of a fundamentalist than she thinks :)

brian said...

Bob, I think the word "personal" is a tricky one here. If by personal, we mean "like a person", my guess is that is what Karen means by G-d is not personal. I agree with her. God is not just a big "super" man. Marcus Borg described G-d as neither personal nor impersonal and used the word "transpersonal".

I think there is a trap on either side of calling G-d personal or impersonal. In our experience, impersonal means less than a person. Nothing we know of that is impersonal can feel or be moved or love. So, to call something impersonal immediately lessens it. We don't want to do that with G-d. But, to call G-d personal can make us tend to anthropomorphize G-d which I believe is a mistake a lot Christians make. Perhaps Karen has steered too far from one ditch and is in danger of falling into the other. My guess it is a reaction to what she was taught in her Catholic days as a nun.

Kansas Bob said...

My thinking is that because she does not pray she believes that one cannot have a personal relationship with God.. but I may be wrong.

brian said...

Bob,

I didn't get the impression that she thinks no one can have a personal relationship with G-d. My impression is that she does not have that type of relationship.

I don't pray the way that most Christians do either. I don't discount the fact that many people do pray and find it to be effective. But, I prayed in that way for decades and it didn't work for me either. So, when she says she doesn't pray I can understand that.

Kansas Bob said...

Maybe prayer is the delineation between faith and belief Brian? Maybe it is possible to believe in an impersonal force (ala Star Wars) and not have faith in a God that hears prayer? What do you think?

brian said...

Could be, Bob. I used to pray because the Bible says to pray. And, I'm not saying I never pray. I just don't pray as in "God, please do this for me." nor do I pray expecting for God to vocally respond to me (as I would expect you to answer me).

I prayed for years expecting God to make things happen or for God to speak back to me. Never happened. When people say they have faith in prayer I really don't know what that means. Sometimes you pray for healing (or a job or a parking space) and you get it. People seem to remember those occurrences and say "God answered my prayer." Other times you pray for the same things and you don't get them. Does that mean God didn't answer? Didn't hear? Said no?

I believe God already knows what I want/need. He doesn't need for me to tell Him. G-d will provide the best for me, He doesn't need for me to ask Him. So, prayer in that sense is not something I do anymore. My prayer is more like listening, kind of tuning into what G-d has for me, rather than trying to move G-d.

So, I would say I do have faith in G-d, in a sense. But, I don't have faith that G-d will do what I tell/ask Him to do because I tell/ask Him to do it.

Kansas Bob said...

I guess I see asking God for stuff as a very small part of what prayer is about. I see prayer as a mix of worship, confession, thanksgiving, petition and intercession (and probably other stuff I can't think of).

I like to pray the Lord's prayer in an expanded personalized fashion.. it is a good mix of adoration, confession, thanksgiving and petition. I also like to just pour my heart out to God.. especially when I am hurting. None of that would make any sense if God is just an impersonal force.

Don said...

Brian- Wow! Thanks for the link. I had heard quite a bit about Armstrong, but had never read or heard her. I really identify with what she says. I do not she her as dogmatic in her thoughts. I see her as presenting her view very openly and without trying to force that view on anyone. Her support of compassion and the "golden rule" really resonate with me. If we did away with all things "religious" but compassion, I feel we are actually doing what Jesus asked us to do. Love the Source and love each other completely. I have to get Karen's books and look deeper into her thinking. As a believer in exile, I want desperately a new vision of God and compassion for others that leaves dogmatic religion behind and focuses on love and compassion without looking down on people when they don't believe as I do. Again thanks for this link.

brian said...

Bob,

Some religions teach there are as many paths to G-d as there are people. Whether you believe that or not, I think there are as many views of G-d as there are people. I do not think that G-d is an impersonal force. I think G-d is completely unique and beyond description. As I said earlier, I would describe G-d more along the lines of what Borg said "transpersonal".

I'm really glad that your prayer life works for you and I would not want to do or say anything to indicate otherwise. For that to work for you, it sounds as though you need to view G-d as personal.

You asked about faith. There's never been a time when I haven't believed in G-d. But, I am learning to trust in G-d for the first time, Bob. When I thought of G-d as a big old man, G-d was a big old, ANGRY man. He was personal to me and very scary. I can hardly begin to describe how I view G-d now except to say that I believe my vision is becoming clearer and there is definitely more trust.

brian said...

Don,

I'm glad what she said made sense to you, too. After listening to the interview, I immediately ordered the book from Amazon.

Kansas Bob said...

Great thoughts Brian. You may be right about my need to have a personal God.. guess I simply do not see the logic in worshiping an abstract force.

Marcus Borg seems to indicate that transpersonal is "more than personal" (p73 of The Heart of Christianity). He also says (on p72) that "our relationship to God is personal" and "This relationship engages us as persons at our deepest and most passionate levels". Guess I agree with that view but it sounds that you may not.

About "Some religions teach there are as many paths to G-d as there are people." Would you agree that not all paths leads to God even if quazi-religious people say they do? An absurd example I offer is the suicide bombers. Guess the point is that just because religious people say something does not make it true.

brian said...

Ah, Bob. The complexities of language.

I do agree with Borg. G-d is more than personal. I've said that before. I guess I failed to say it here. And, our relationship with G-d is personal because we are persons. G-d is not impersonal. An impersonal thing or force cannot love, let alone be Love. I do love G-d. I love G-d more than any "thing". But, I do not view G-d as a person. So, in a sense G-d is personal to me and in a sense, G-d is not personal. Thus, "transpersonal". Transpersonal should not be confused with impersonal.

It's really difficult to express and Borg put it better than anyone else I've read.

As for all paths leading to G-d. As a Universalist. Yes I do believe that. But, some paths are more direct than others. Some paths are more difficult than others. Some paths take longer than others. But, I believe that all eventually find their way back to the Source.

Kansas Bob said...

I agree with your take on transpersonal Brian.

Religions (even if they are aberrant forms of a major religion) that embrace suicide bombing do not lead to God. On the contrary these religions lead people away from God.

Where the suicide bomber eventually ends up no one really knows.. it is speculation at best. What I think we do know is that such acts (i.e. the murder of innocents) are evil in this world even if one believes that they are not evil in the next world.

brian said...

First, I'm glad you recognize that most Muslims would say that Islam does NOT advocate suicide bombings. It's a particularly perverse and aberrant form of Islam that advocates that. Calling this a religious teaching is like calling killing abortion doctors a religious teaching.

Secondly, I didn't meant to imply that every action we take leads us closer to G-d. Even though the phrase "whatever doesn't kill makes me stronger" does comes to mind.

Not every path is advisable, not every action is directly beneficial. And, yes, some actions may temporarily lead us further from G-d.

Please do not construe the statement that all paths lead to G-d to mean that no action is evil, no teaching is wrong and that nothing really matters because we all get there anyway. That is not what I am saying at all.

Kansas Bob said...

You and I probably agree that violence and faith, generally speaking, are like oil and water in that they do not go together. Some current day religions do seem to embrace violence when religious (not moral) laws are broken. We see that demonstrated in countries where only one religion is embraced.

It may be truthful to say that such manifestations of a religion are "perverse and aberrant" but the reality is that people in some countries live with religious violence every day because the laws are based on one religion and the official representatives of those religions endorse the laws and the violent consequences of breaking those laws.

The ideas that "God is love" and we are to love others are not ideas embraced by all religions.. I wish that it was.. maybe only true religions embrace those ideas and the others are simply false?

Joe said...

There are acts of violence in the United States by Christians to enforce their beliefs. The murder of Dr. Tiller is one example. Only the enforcement of our Constitution prevents more persecution and violence of non-Christians. If the United States was a Christian theocracy, "sinners" would fill our prisons and swing from our gallows.

Statements made at the recent Value Voters Summit by our self-proclaimed moral (Christian) leaders support my opinion. One Congressman advocates banning a single woman from teaching if she lives with her boyfriend. In a Christian theocracy this same Congressman would advocate publicly beating women that aren't properly chaperoned.

I suggest that we Christians not throw stones from our glass houses.

Joe said...

Brian, do you not say or write the word GOD or any of his names, like Yahweh? Is that the reason why you always write G-d and YHWH?

Kansas Bob said...

No argument from me Joe about the religious nuts that do violence to Abortionists. But what about those powerful religious authorities who endorse violence in a legal fashion against those who break religious (not moral) laws? Can we not judge those actions as inconsistent with real religions that advocate loving our neighbor?

brian said...

Bob,

There are over 10,000 religions in the world and that's not counting all of the denominations. I haven't studied many of them. But, I can say of the major religions, all of them that speak of G-d speak of G-d as being love, including Islam. For anyone who thinks that Islam is a violent religion, I would invite you to remember the history of our own faith and things like the crusades and inquisitions. Just about every Christian alive today would say these do not represent "true" Christianity. Similarly, most Muslims would agree that the violence being perpetrated in the name of Allah is not true Islam. I do not know of any religion that, at its core, teaches that violence is preferred. In fact, I would contend that the Old Testament is more violent than the Koran. We can find violent verses in the Koran. But, in the OT, we can also find G-d telling the Israelites to kill and rape (take the women for yourselves) entire nations.

There's a great book I recommend for anyone who wants to understand the similarities and differences between Christianity and Islam. It's called "A Deadly Misunderstanding" by Mark Siljander. I would also encourage a visit to your local mosque.

Peace,
Brian

brian said...

Joe, to answer your question why I do not spell out G-d, please see this post:

http://www.thebeautifulheresy.com/2008/06/why-i-do-not-spell-out-god.html

Peace,
Brian

Kansas Bob said...

My issue is not the pure religion of Islam that is practiced here in our country but in the ways that it is lived out, enforced and endorsed by "official" religious representatives/leaders on a countrywide basis in many countries.

I agree that it is similar to the violence in the OT only several thousand years later in the evolutionary cycle. Do you think that the culture of these folks have not evolved? Is it possible that the religious influence of these places have hindered the evolution of their cultures?

I know that you are not endorsing the violence but you seem to come short of decrying how a non-violent religion is being conducted with violence in mass on the peoples of many countries.

I will readily join you in condemning the violence of the OT, the crusades, abortion murderers and all religious folks who advocate, condone and perpetrate violence in the practice of their religion.

I will also join you in affirming the actions of all religious people who advocate the idea that we are to love our neighbors.

As usual I am enjoying and learning through the exchange of ideas with you. I appreciate your attitude and hope that I am not being to harsh in my comments.

Joe said...

I think that the theocracy rather than its religion gives rise to fundamentalist extremism. I think every religion, including Christianity, could be used as Islam is being used by the Taliban, Iran, Osama bin Laden and many others. For example, the Catholic church leaders were also intolerant and ruthless when the pope also ruled politically.

If the US became a Christian theocracy, just imagine the fierce competition among the several Christian religions to have their doctine be the law of the land. Who would win such a competition? Not the liberals, not the moderate and certainly not the passivists. The most extreme fundamentalists would win because they will not compromise in their battle for God. Any church or person that disagrees with them will be damned by God if not first saved by the fundamentalists (convert or die).

If we allow Christian fundamentalists to eliminate the Constitutional requirement of a separation of church and state, we will evolve into a theocracy that will be just as intolerant as any in history. The fundamentalists are trying now to do this. They argue that a strict adherence to separation of church and state violates a Christian's religious freedom. For example, they are fighting to retain the words "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance even though they were not in the original pledge but added decades later. They are fighting to retain the phrase "in God we trust" on our currency although it was not on our currency until the 19th and 20th centuries. They are fighting to get prayer back into our schools when in fact the government never took prayer away from students in any school; it only told the schools that they could no longer require students to pray, as they did when I was in grade school.

The Christian fundamentalists say that they are only fighting to preserve their religious freedom when in fact they are really trying to eliminate non-Christian religions.

brian said...

Bob,

I always love "talking" to you. The medium is a little limiting though. So, I guess I'm not always as clear as I think I'm being.

If I've given any impression that the suicide bombings are "legitimate" then I've made a HUGE mistake. Suicide bombings are evil. I thought I had made that clear. My only "hesitation" is to condemn Islam, at all, for the actions of a few nuts. There are parallels between the hijacked version of Islam and what happened to Christianity when we perpetrated our crimes on humanity only a few hundred years ago.

Yes, there are less violent religious nut Christians than there are Muslims. The reasons I think are complicated. You have hordes of uneducated masses being led by a few men who manipulate the Koran to their benefit. You have poor people who have lived under dictators who were often propped up by the United States to serve our own interests and then discarded when they no longer suited our purposes. You have a people who were once very prominent and proud in the world who have largely lost that position. You have the Palestinian dilemma, etc.

The radical form of Islam that is being put forth as true Islam should be condemned more strongly by progressive and moderate Muslims. Again, I would guess if you visited your local mosque and asked an imam there what he thinks of the situation you'd get a very different picture than what Osama Bin Ladin says true Islam is.

Again, I'd contend that no "true" religion advocates the killing of innocents. And Islam certainly does not any more than Christianity does. There are still Christians using the Bible to justify murder, just fewer than there are Muslims- perhaps because of some of the reasons I listed above.

brian said...

Joe,

You are absolutely right. We were fortunate (blessed) that our Founding Fathers had the foresight to insist on a separation of church and state. And, Christianity already has its own examples of what happens when we have a pope with political power.

There are people who would turn this country into a theocracy and if that were to happen, I would have no reason to believe we'd be any better off than Iran.

Peace,
Brian

Kansas Bob said...

Great comments guys. Wonder why we have to go back so long to find a Christian theocracy? Possibly education for the masses was a fruit of Christianity and helpful in the evolution of Western civilization and culture. Possibly there are yet fringe wacko fundamentalists that are wanting a Christian theocracy in the USA.. I do not know of any.. heck I do not know of any that would tolerate the state sponsored Christian church that would be needed for such a theocracy to exist.. so I think the idea of comparing something like that in the USA to what IS happening in Muslim countries is not a valid comparison. I would rather stick to reality.

Possibly these theocratic countries do not have "legitimate" representative leaders/representatives of Islam.. possibly one has to go (as Brian says) to an Islamic leader in a Western country to find a "legitimate" leader/representative of Islam.. possible these handful of leaders in the West are the true representatives of Islam and the overwhelming majority of leaders in theocratic countries are not the true representatives.. maybe.

But is this minority of leaders/representatives more legitimate just because they live in the West and agree with Western culture and morals?

Has the Imam that you talked to Brian decried the violence perpetrated in these theocratic countries? Does he support the rights of women to be educated and dress the way that they want? Does he embrace freedom of religion in Islamic countries? Can you point me to Islamic leaders in the West who condemn the violence perpetrated in the name of Islam against citizens of theocracies who break religious (not moral) laws? I would be interested in reading such an article.

Again I feel I need to say that I agree with you and condemn violence done in the name of any religion. Do you both agree with me that the Islamic leaders in theocratic nations should be publicly condemned by Islamic leaders in the West for supporting violence against citizens who break religious (not moral) laws?

I also have to say that I may be off on this. Possibly the media is simply not reporting Islamic leaders in the West who condemn this violence. I would love to read about such leaders if you know of any that do not limit their criticism to terrorists but to the hypocritical Islamic leaders that perpetrate religious violence against people.

brian said...

Bob,

When we had a representative of the local mosque visit our church a couple of years ago he gave us some insights into just some of the issues with Muslim countries. You make a good point about Christian theocracies. Perhaps we learned our lessons earlier. But, we (the West) must shoulder our portion of the blame for the Middle East. The British and the French screwed it up royally meddling in internal politics with consequences we are seeing until this day. It's way too complicated a subject cover with any justice here and I'm not even an expert. Also, the person I spoke with pointed out that most of the clergy in the Islamic countries are fairly uneducated. The educated class becomes doctors and lawyers. They have a vacuum of well educated religious leaders.

I too have said I wish Muslim leaders in the West would be more vocal about some the crazy teachings coming out of some Muslim countries. What I have found is just because you don't see them on the evening news doesn't mean they are not speaking out. It's just not newsworthy stuff. If you're really interested, look up the Islamic center near you. See if you can get a speaker to come to your church. We did at Nexus.

Here's a link. Scroll all the way to the bottom and find the talk by Dr. Atiq Durrani.

http://www.nexusucc.org/sermons.php?pageType=main&pageID=35&pageName=%2FListen%20In%2F

Kansas Bob said...

"most of the clergy in the Islamic countries are fairly uneducated"

That is quite an indictment against Islam Brian. Guess I had never really considered that almost all Islamic leaders were simply uneducated about their own religion. So what percentage of Islamic leaders do you consider educated? Are the only educated ones living in the West? Should we just ignore the majority of Islamic leaders?

Of course being uneducated doesn't always mean that you are subservient to tyrannical leaders.. seems like I once read of some uneducated fishermen that turned the world upside down. :)

brian said...

Bob,

The comment about uneducated leaders was not mine, but from Dr. Durrani.

Let me see if I can summarize:

1.) There are political problems in many Islamic countries. Problems compounded by the West.

2.) There is a MINORITY of people misrepresenting Islam and people here besmirch the whole faith based on them. We have nuts here killing abortion doctors, hanging homosexuals and doing all kinds of whacko things in the name of God. Yet, most Christians here don't blame Christianity for it.

3.) The Koran can be manipulated, just like the Bible can.

Islam is a religion of peace, just like Christianity and Judaism. There is a small minority who have taken the Koran and formed a fundamentalist view that advocates things the Koran actually specifically forbids in other places. Just like Christians have done here and like our theocracies have done in the past. Just because ours is in our past and Islam faces this problem today doesn't make our religion any better than theirs or any less susceptible to corruption.

Peace,
Brian

Kansas Bob said...

I mostly agree with you Brian but question that it is a "minority" of Islamic leaders who support violence against citizens for breaking religious (not moral) laws. Do you have statements from Islamic leaders condemning such violence? And again, I am not addressing terrorism.

brian said...

I think I'm just understanding what it is you are saying. What you are condemning is violent acts against citizens based on the religious code. And, you want to differentiate between penalties imposed for violating religious laws versus moral laws.

I would think that it would be especially difficult in a theocracy to differentiate between religious law and moral law. That's problem #1, IMO. And, if we're going to talk about what the religion dictates as penalty, we need to be really careful because Torah calls for the killing of people for all types of acts. In a country (the United States) that still kills its citizens (death penalty) and is viewed as barbaric by much of the West for doing so, I think we have to watch our criticism of sharia law. I know you don't want to deal in hypotheticals. But, G-d forbid the fundies with their literal interpretation of the Old Testament ever got a theocracy in this country.

To answer your question, I haven't researched what western imams have to say about sharia law.

Kansas Bob said...

And God forbid the liberal fundies ever get a hold of our govt.. just joking.. but it would be interesting to see where the country would go if left wing extremists got all they wanted.

I think that we have ended up agreeing that violence against people in the name of religion is a bad thing.

Also think that we have agreed that only legitimate expressions of religion promote a love for other people and false expressions advocate hate for others.

brian said...

You'd be safe from the Liberals Fundies takeover. We can't agree on anything. When you have an absolute truth, especially all written down nice and neat for you, that's when you're truly dangerous.

Don said...

Brian- Your statement, "Just because ours is in our past and Islam faces this problem today doesn't make our religion any better than theirs or any less susceptible to corruption." has such a ring of truth to it. As an historian, I feel that the time discrepancy between the zenith of fundamentalism of Christianity and Islam make them appear very different when in reality they are very similar. It is very difficult to compare fundamentalist ideologies so separated by time. Just very difficult to do accurately. I agree with your assessment.

Kansas Bob said...

Interesting that we do not agree on those two statements in my last comment.

brian said...

Bob,

I think you misunderstood my comment. When I said "We can't agree on anything." I meant "we" being Liberal Fundamentalists. We can't agree on anything, not you and I.

I do agree with your statements about what we previously agreed on. But, I would go further to say that probably every religion has been misrepresented by some of its adherents at some point and that particularly the Torah and the Koran are subject to violent misinterpretation.

I think James summed up true religion pretty well in James 1:27.

Kansas Bob said...

Thanks for the clarification.

Now James 1:27 - that is an expression of religion that we definitely agree on :)

Joe said...

I still think that the only reason that Christian fundamentalists aren't doing in the US what Islamic fundamentalists are doing in Iran, is our Constitution.

I don't think there are any Christian theocracies left in the world. If there were, I believe they would prove that a Christian theocracy can be as ruthless as an Islamic theocracy.

Bob believes that Christianity has matured beyond Islam and for that reason Christian leaders and followers are not as oppressive and violent as some practitioners of Islam. I don't think Christianity is responsible for its maturity and its tolerance. The Catholic church which I believe to be the oldest or one of the oldest Christian churches has had to be dragged kicking and screaming as far as it has come on the road to modernization - social and scientific. As democracy replaced monarchies, the people not the church created a government and laws to ensure their civil rights. Democracy ensures the freedom of each and every citizen, both civil and religious. It also guarantees that all religions will be treated equally.

I agree that most of our founding fathers were Christians and the moral teachings of their churches influenced the content of the Constitution but the same influence could have come from the Golden Rule since the Constitution itself does not enforce Christian doctrine. Therefore, I do not believe that the United States was founded by Christians as a Christian nation.

I'm not saying that a Christian theocracy would be abusive because the Chistian Bible promotes violence against non-believers. I say a Christian theocracy would be as abusive as any of today's Islamic theocracies only because it is a theocracy. Because the theocracy would be controlled by the fundamentalists who today do not respect civil rights or non-Christian religions.

Kansas Bob said...

Joe, I think that the abuses of the Church of England probably influenced the founders of our country to state that:

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

It probably also influenced Jefferson to describe a wall of separation between church and state.

Here's hoping that one day Islamic countries will do something similar and separate civil and religious laws.

Joe said...

It's up to the people of the Islamic nations. In Iran the process, an extremely dangerous process, is already underway. I believe that they will succeed in Iran before the US succeeds in establishing self-sustaining democracies in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Christian religion is interested in saving your soul and obedience to its doctrine; it is not concerned with your civil rights, which are broader under the Constitution than Christian doctrine allows.

Kansas Bob said...

Disagree with your take on Christianity and civil rights Joe. Martin Luther King Jr was a Christian leader and much of his civil rights philosophy came from his faith.

Joe said...

Then we will have to disagree Bob. The Christian church didn't end slavery. Just as many Christians defended slavery as opposed it.

Without Martin Luther King, Jr. we might not have the Civil Rights laws that exist today but the Christian Church as a whole did not lead the Civil Rights Movement and did not in my opinion play a significant role in its success. Martin Luther King, Jr. didn't need the Christian religion or any other religion to inform him that he should have the same rights as any other human being.

Kansas Bob said...

I was simply taking issue with your statement that "The Christian religion" "is not concerned with your civil rights" Joe.

I agree with what you said about many churches and Christians but not with relation to Christianity.

brian said...

See? Here we go. Is Christianity defined by what the church says/does or by the ideals of its "founder" (Yeshua the Messiah)? Joe and Bob both make great points. Martin Luther King was a Christian. But, for the large part the Christian church was either unconcerned about slavery/civil rights or actually fought for the status quo. Martin Luther King was very much influenced by Mahatma Gandhi- hardly a Christian.

Those of us (like me) who believe in a social justice gospel would contend that Jesus and Christianity are concerned with civil rights. But the history of the Christian church, it could be argued, would indicate that Christianity is not.

Joe said...

I certainly see the difference but where in the Bible does it say that Christianity is concerned with my civil rights rather than my salvation?

I'm asking, not challenging. I wasn't aware that it did.

Kansas Bob said...

I agree with your view of Christianity's relationship to Civil Rights Brian.. and maybe all true religions have a relationship to people's Civil Rights.. maybe Civil Rights is a measure of the influence of God's love expressed in a society?

If Civil Rights is an expression of God's love through people then in some sense Christianity is all about Civil Rights Joe.

If Christians simply loved one another then no one would have enslaved anyone.. greed deceived those people not love or faith.

brian said...

I think civil rights has to be inferred by Jesus' teachings. He certainly did not tell us how to run the government. But, if the government does represent the people (as it should in a Democracy) and we live by the Golden Rule, then civil rights and social justice necessarily follow.

Peace,
Brian