Figuring Out Religion

Other discussions not related to the Permanent Portfolio

Moderator: Global Moderator

User avatar
Gosso
Executive Member
Executive Member
Posts: 1052
Joined: Fri Jan 06, 2012 8:22 am
Location: Canada

Re: Figuring Out Religion

Post by Gosso » Thu Jan 09, 2014 1:55 pm

jan van mourik wrote: So what about Jesus going to India?

BBC Documentary: "Jesus Lived in India"
For about three years I believed that Jesus was simply a spiritual guru, and that he traveled to India for his training.  It is possible.  It is easy to believe that Jesus was not God, as Desert mentioned up-thread.  All I can say is keep searching.

Even if Jesus was in India it doesn't change the life he lived in Israel and his resurrection.

I still occasionally read the Gospel of Thomas, which is borderline Buddhism.  But obviously I don't hold it in as high regard as the four gospels.
User avatar
6 Iron
Executive Member
Executive Member
Posts: 339
Joined: Sun Apr 25, 2010 11:12 pm

Re: Figuring Out Religion

Post by 6 Iron » Thu Jan 09, 2014 2:44 pm

Thanks, Gosso and Mountaineer. I will continue to delve.
User avatar
Mountaineer
Executive Member
Executive Member
Posts: 3922
Joined: Tue Feb 07, 2012 10:54 am

Re: Figuring Out Religion

Post by Mountaineer » Thu Jan 09, 2014 7:11 pm

6 Iron wrote: Thanks, Gosso and Mountaineer. I will continue to delve.
6 Iron,

I found some material in my Romans Commentary by Martin H. Franzmann that I believe is additive re the verses you mentioned.  I will try to type it out and post in a day or so; it is a page or so in length.  I'm really tired right now and my wife just came home from the hospital today with a new knee ... have to play caregiver now almost full time for a while. 

... Mountaineer
Its OK if some people don’t like you, not everyone has good taste.
ns3
Executive Member
Executive Member
Posts: 274
Joined: Thu Jan 09, 2014 8:46 pm

Re: Figuring Out Religion

Post by ns3 » Thu Jan 09, 2014 9:35 pm

Gosso wrote: For about three years I believed that Jesus was simply a spiritual guru, and that he traveled to India for his training.  It is possible.  It is easy to believe that Jesus was not God, as Desert mentioned up-thread.  All I can say is keep searching.

Even if Jesus was in India it doesn't change the life he lived in Israel and his resurrection.

I still occasionally read the Gospel of Thomas, which is borderline Buddhism.  But obviously I don't hold it in as high regard as the four gospels.
I was a fundamentalist/charismatic/Pentecostal Christian (I spoke and sang in tongues) and though I'm not comfortable aligning myself with the Christian religion today,  I still believe in Jesus the Messiah.
User avatar
Gosso
Executive Member
Executive Member
Posts: 1052
Joined: Fri Jan 06, 2012 8:22 am
Location: Canada

Re: Figuring Out Religion

Post by Gosso » Fri Jan 10, 2014 9:15 am

ns3 wrote:
Gosso wrote: For about three years I believed that Jesus was simply a spiritual guru, and that he traveled to India for his training.  It is possible.  It is easy to believe that Jesus was not God, as Desert mentioned up-thread.  All I can say is keep searching.

Even if Jesus was in India it doesn't change the life he lived in Israel and his resurrection.

I still occasionally read the Gospel of Thomas, which is borderline Buddhism.  But obviously I don't hold it in as high regard as the four gospels.
I was a fundamentalist/charismatic/Pentecostal Christian (I spoke and sang in tongues) and though I'm not comfortable aligning myself with the Christian religion today,  I still believe in Jesus the Messiah.
Ha!  I'm far too Catholic to have that much fun!  ;D
User avatar
Gosso
Executive Member
Executive Member
Posts: 1052
Joined: Fri Jan 06, 2012 8:22 am
Location: Canada

Re: Figuring Out Religion

Post by Gosso » Fri Jan 10, 2014 9:21 am

I just read this wonderful blog post from Fr. Robert Barron that others might enjoy, "We cannot speak of God, but we must speak of God":
It is the rock, the storm, the lion, the flood, the desert. It is the bear, the leviathan, the whirlwind, the barely audible whisper, the voice, the silence, the city strongly compact, the mother with abundant breasts, the tearful father. There is a mysterious reality, at the borders and at the heart of our ordinary experience, suffusing and yet transcending all that surrounds us, a reality that can be evoked with a thousand names and that cannot, finally, be caught by any name. This mystery judges us and energizes us, frightens us and gives us incomparable peace, overwhelms us and captivates us. Like Melville’s white whale, it surges up from the depths and sinks our ships, and like Jonah’s whale it draws us into itself and gives us protection. It is as high as the heavens are above the earth and as low as the caverns of Hell; it is as dark as a pillar of cloud and as luminous as a pillar of fire; it is the burning bush that is not consumed, and it is the water from the rock. It is the sheer act of Being itself, and it is nothing at all; it is what is hardest to see, and it is what is most obvious.

Every great mystic, prophet, or theologian knows that this mystery cannot be spoken of adequately, that, like a wily fish, it escapes all the nets of thought and language that we set for it. Thomas Aquinas—the most talkative theologian in the tradition—simply stopped talking at the end of his life, convinced that all he had said of the mystery amounted to so much straw. And yet, as my catalogue of traditional names suggests, we talk, almost compulsively and manically, of this power, pushed by some inner drive of the spirit. We cannot speak of God, and we must speak of God. It is as simple and as strange as that.

We are compelled to theologize precisely because we are who we are: those strange beings already described in this book, sinner open to metanoia, change of mind. God must be spoken of because we are alienated from the Mystery that alone can give us life, and we know it; God must be engaged because we are wired for the Mystery and nothing short of the Mystery can give us peace. We are not so much rational animals (as Aristotle thought) or productive animals (as Marx would have it) as we are those animals who speak of God. Time and again, in the course of the centuries, various philosophers and social reformers have predicted that we would grow out of our debilitating and embarrassing tendency to engage in God-talk, but they have all faded away, and God-talk remains. The preoccupation with the Mystery is in us, and it can’t ultimately be wished or thought or threatened away.

All of this suggests, of course, that the naming of God is a vitally important exercise and not merely a game of the mind. To name the divine with something approaching adequacy is to foster a right relation with the Mystery, to undo, to some extent, the effects of the originating sin that has placed us at a remove from God.

It is my conviction that the God-talk of our tradition (though tainted by sin) is a consistent and largely successful attempt to undo the effects of the Fall by orienting us to the God who is really God and not the fantasy of the sinful soul. The theology, art, literature, architecture, drama of the Christian heritage constitute an attempt to name God, not as the pathetic rival to the ego’s phantom unconditionally, but as the power in which the fearful ego can find itself through surrender. God is that reality which, thankfully, can be neither manipulated nor avoided, neither controlled nor hidden from, and, as such, God is that which effectively invites the ego to give up its fearful and finally illusory place at the center of the universe. In naming God in the wildly diverse ways that it does, the Christian tradition attempts to doctor the soul, to frustrate the myriad moves of the grasping or self-concealing ego.
http://wordonfire.org/WoF-Blog/WoF-Blog ... iding.aspx
Last edited by Gosso on Fri Jan 10, 2014 9:49 am, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
Xan
Administrator
Administrator
Posts: 2796
Joined: Tue Mar 13, 2012 1:51 pm

Re: Figuring Out Religion

Post by Xan » Fri Jan 10, 2014 2:28 pm

Gosso, thanks for your links to Robert Barron's material.  As a Lutheran I agree with him on many things and disagree with him on many things, but I literally could watch his videos all day long.  There's an LCMS pastor with a similar video series that I think Mountaineer linked to one time, but his style is all Bill Nye-ish and it's hard to watch.
User avatar
Mountaineer
Executive Member
Executive Member
Posts: 3922
Joined: Tue Feb 07, 2012 10:54 am

Re: Figuring Out Religion

Post by Mountaineer » Fri Jan 10, 2014 2:41 pm

Mountaineer wrote:
6 Iron wrote: Thanks, Gosso and Mountaineer. I will continue to delve.
6 Iron,

I found some material in my Romans Commentary by Martin H. Franzmann that I believe is additive re the verses you mentioned.  I will try to type it out and post in a day or so; it is a page or so in length.  I'm really tired right now and my wife just came home from the hospital today with a new knee ... have to play caregiver now almost full time for a while. 

... Mountaineer
6 Iron,

Please let me provide some context for the material from the Romans Commentary, below, as well as some of my previous posts.  Missouri Synod Lutherans are somewhat unique (my opinion based on my previous church experiences with ELCA Lutherans, Methodists, Baptists, Presbyterians, Episcopalians and classes taken dealing with Islam, Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy) in three aspects of understanding Scripture.  First, there is a huge emphasis on understanding the differences between Law and Gospel - in short, Law is what God tells us to do and us used to make us realize that we are so desperately in need of a Savior, Gospel is what God has done for us and provides the sweet promise that God loves us and we are forgiven if we just do not reject the gift.  Secondly, Lutherans believe that Scripture interprets Scripture with the clearer passages being used to understand the more vague passages; and in the inerrancy of Scripture but it must be understood in context - to me that means no cherry picking verses - read the whole section or Chapter and understand to whom the passage is being written and what was going on in the area at the time it was written.  Thirdly, Lutherans emphasize the two kingdoms that God is in charge of, the vertical realm that deals mainly with God stuff (e.g. Word and Sacraments, one’s relationship with Jesus, etc.), and the horizontal realm that deals with civil stuff (e.g. politics, church organization and polity, relationships with one’s neighbors, etc.).  It might also be useful to understand where I personally am “coming from”?; you can read my post describing my journey to Moda0306 many pages back in this thread and many other of my responses in this thread if you are interested.

Hope this helps.

… Mountaineer


From Martin H. Franzmann “Romans, A Commentary”?

Verse 10:  The same sovereign freedom of the Word is apparent also, and more fully, in the story of the sons of Isaac.  Rebecca was no slave concubine but the free wife of Isaac, and both or her twin sons were free.

11-12: But here, too, the Word of the promise determined everything; independent of any will or work of man, it made the choice between Esau and Jacob before the boys were born.  It overrode the hallowed right of primogeniture, ordaining that the firstborn should be servant to the younger son.  Here God’s purpose, God’s free choice, God’s call were wholly sovereign, independent of the will of man. 

13: The history of the nations descended from the sons of Isaac confirmed what God’s Word had said of the nations Israel and Edom.  Centuries later, God through Malachi could say, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated”? (Mal 1:2-3).  Men and nations do not live by bread alone, nor by being begotten and being born alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.  (Matt 4:4; Deut 8:3).

Paul speaks of “God’s purpose of election”? here (v. 11), but he is speaking of that purpose as it works in the history of men.  He is not speaking here, as he spoke in 8:28-30, of the eternal predestination of God’s elect to righteousness and glory; he is not now uttering the doxology of the redeemed.  Rather, he is showing how God freely chose Isaac and Jacob for the furthering of his purpose, to bless all the families of the earth, in order to make dear that all depends on Him and on His Word alone.  His choice of Isaac does not of itself doom Ishmael to perdition; Ishmael, too, received a blessing from God (Gen 17:20; 21:13), and Ishmael, too, comes under the blessing promised to all the families of the earth in Abraham’s seed.  God’s purpose of election does not mean that all Ishmaelites and Edomities were to be damned, no more than it means that all the descendants of Isaac and Jacob should be saved.  Even the words from Malachi, “Esau I hated,”? must be understood in the light of their setting and in accordance with the Hebrew mode of speech.  Malachi is spewing of the fate of Jacob and Esay as nations, not of their eternal weal or woe.  And to “hate”? in Hebrew usage often means little more than the opposite of “prefer”? or “choose.”?  In Gen 29:31 for instance, the words, “Leah was hated,”? simply restate what was said in Gen 29:30: “He loved Rachel more than Leah.”?  This mode of speech is found in the New Testament too; to “hate”? one’s life, mother, wife, children, etc. means to surrender them, to love them less than Christ (Luke 14:26; cf Matt 10:37-39)

Still, Paul, in emphasizing the fact that the unbelief of physical Israel does not call in question the power of God’s Word to Israel, has spoken boldly, to the point of ambiguity.  The question can arise: “Is God, then, unjust?  Is not this freedom of His mere arbitrariness, a tyrannous assertion of His will because it is His will?”?  Paul anticipates that question - see Romans 9:14-29.
Its OK if some people don’t like you, not everyone has good taste.
User avatar
Gosso
Executive Member
Executive Member
Posts: 1052
Joined: Fri Jan 06, 2012 8:22 am
Location: Canada

Re: Figuring Out Religion

Post by Gosso » Fri Jan 10, 2014 7:20 pm

jan van mourik wrote: So what about Jesus going to India?

BBC Documentary: "Jesus Lived in India"
I was thinking more about the difference between eastern religions and Christianity.  One way to look at it is Christ as the personality of the Tao, or Christ as the Tao with personality.  This enables us to love the Tao and it can love us.  So using the trinity, it would be the Father as the Tao, the Son as the Personality, and the Holy Spirit as the connection we share between the love of the Tao and Son.  It's not a perfect translation but I think it helps represent how Christians see things.  At least it's something to chew on.
Xan wrote: Gosso, thanks for your links to Robert Barron's material.  As a Lutheran I agree with him on many things and disagree with him on many things, but I literally could watch his videos all day long.  There's an LCMS pastor with a similar video series that I think Mountaineer linked to one time, but his style is all Bill Nye-ish and it's hard to watch.
Yeah, Fr. Robert Barron's videos are indeed intoxicating - such a beautiful mind and human being.  He has helped me get past a lot of prejudices towards the Catholic Church.  I still don't fully agree with everything the Catholic Church teaches, but I now at least understand their point of view (mainly that there actually is a creator God, and our egos need to be tamed).  I was also (and still am) extremely tempted to remain non-denominational and forget the whole church scene, but it seems the Eucharist and community are an important part of being a Christian.
Last edited by Gosso on Fri Jan 10, 2014 9:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
Desert
Executive Member
Executive Member
Posts: 3233
Joined: Sat Jun 26, 2010 2:39 pm

Re: Figuring Out Religion

Post by Desert » Sun Jan 12, 2014 10:13 am

Totally off topic, but I'm heading off to a Southern Baptist Megachurch (really?) to hear Ravi Zacharias preach.  If you're hanging out at home, join me online at 11am CT. 

http://www.bellevue.org/
Our greatest fear should not be of failure, but of succeeding at something that doesn't really matter. 
- D.L. Moody

Diversification means always having to say you're sorry.
User avatar
Mountaineer
Executive Member
Executive Member
Posts: 3922
Joined: Tue Feb 07, 2012 10:54 am

Re: Figuring Out Religion

Post by Mountaineer » Wed Jan 15, 2014 5:40 pm

Interesting article:

... Mountaineer

Did your absentee father make you an atheist?
on January 15, 2014 in PERISCOPE, REPORTER
(RNS) — A once-popular book that links atheism with shoddy fathering is getting a second life with a new publisher, thanks, in part, to the rise of nonbelief in the United States.

Faith of the Fatherless: The Psychology of Atheism by Catholic psychologist Paul C. Vitz posits that “intense atheists”? throughout history — Nietzsche, Voltaire and Madalyn Murray O’Hair — had absent or rotten fathers. This, he argues, damaged their ability to form a relationship with a heavenly father.

Vitz also holds that many notable believers — Renaissance man Blaise Pascal, anti-slavery activist William Wilberforce and Nazi martyr Dietrich Bonhoeffer, among others — had great relationships with their dads, and were therefore more able to build relationships with God.

“We need to understand atheism has a lot to do with our emotional attitudes toward life, other people and a lot of other things,”? Vitz said from his office at the Institute for the Psychological Sciences, a Catholic graduate school in Arlington, Va. “I think that is an important thing for atheists and believers alike to take into consideration.”?

And consider it they have. When the book first appeared in 1999, it polarized critics. The religious media loved it. New Oxford Review, a Catholic publication, described it as “an engaging analysis of psychological factors in religious belief and disbelief.”?

But the atheist and humanist media did not swoon. Skeptic magazine panned it as “insulting to those of us who came to a point of nonbelief as the result of careful study and consideration.”?

Still, the book struck a chord, especially among Christian groups who saw the collapse of the traditional family as a threat to their beliefs. Focus on the Family, a Colorado-based Christian ministry, used Vitz’s findings to promote its outreach to fathers, and he was cited by a host of Christian psychologists and scholars.

So why revise the book?

A lot has changed since 1999. For one, the first decade of the 21st century saw the rise of the so-called “New Atheists”? — outspoken critics of religion such as Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens and Daniel Dennett, whom many contemporary atheists credit for swelling the ranks of nonbelievers.

And their ranks have swelled. According to the Pew Research Center, the percentage of Americans who are atheists and agnostics has grown from 3.7 percent to 5.7 percent from 2007 to 2012, and the overall number of those who say they have no religion has grown from 11.6 to just under 14 percent in the same time period.

“The rise of militant, evangelical, fundamentalist atheism in our time adds to the pertinence of this book,”? said Mark Brumley, president of Ignatius Press, the Catholic publishing house that has reissued the book.

“Some atheists try to equate atheism with rationality. Vitz’s book shows that atheism, like many belief systems, has significant irrational elements.”?

Vitz said he wanted to revise the book not only to include the New Atheists, whose family relationships he scrutinizes (Dawkins was sexually molested by a clergyman, a subject he has discussed before), but also because there was new research about atheists and attachment theory (generally, they didn’t get much of it) and atheists and autism (many autistic people also are atheists, the book claims).

As he did in the first edition, Vitz makes an important point — the book does not try to prove or disprove the existence of God. Rather, its goal is to examine some of the “irrational”? underlying reasons some people become atheists.

“I am certainly not predicting that every atheist is the result of one hypothesis, much less mine,”? he said. “I am just saying there is a tendency for more things to go together than you’d expect normally,”? like atheism and a poor relationship with one’s father.

The reaction to the book, again, has been polarizing. Christians love it — Paul de Vries, president of New York Divinity School, a Protestant school, praised it as “one of the most profound books in the empirical psychology of religion.”?

But atheists are less enthusiastic. “I have a spectacular relationship with my father and consider him to be the most admirable man I’ve ever known,”? wrote JT Eberhard, an atheist blogger for Patheos. Many of the comments on his review are unprintable.

Vitz, a Catholic who identified as an atheist in his youth, acknowledges there are exceptions to his theory. He identifies a big one in his book — Sam Harris, a New Atheist who hit the best-seller list with The End of Faith, has an apparently healthy relationship with his father, too.

“The best answer I have to explain that is I don’t know,”? he said. “I haven’t studied them [the exceptions] enough.”?

— Kimberly Winston

© 2014 Religion News Service. Used with permission.
Its OK if some people don’t like you, not everyone has good taste.
User avatar
Desert
Executive Member
Executive Member
Posts: 3233
Joined: Sat Jun 26, 2010 2:39 pm

Re: Figuring Out Religion

Post by Desert » Wed Jan 15, 2014 6:56 pm

Mountaineer,

That sounds like a good read.  As soon as I finish up some other reading, I'm going to check it out. 

By the way, I have Sam Harris's book titled "The End of Faith and the Future of Reason."  I haven't read it since becoming a Christian, but I will at some point.  There is also a decent interview with him at the end of that atheist movie "The God who is not There" (I own that one too... I was a committed agnostic).  Even though I probably wouldn't agree with much he has to say these days, I think he'd be a very interesting person to talk to. 
Our greatest fear should not be of failure, but of succeeding at something that doesn't really matter. 
- D.L. Moody

Diversification means always having to say you're sorry.
Post Reply