Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.

On Religion and the Law

by Lynch Fri Aug 20th, 2010 at 03:33:32 PM EST

This is a follow-up to an exchange with ceebs and Colman in the diary "Obama Waffles on the Ground Zero Mosque" regarding a disagreement on three points.

Lynch's point 1: In a theocracy, the concept of law and religion are one and the same

Ceebs response: this is a narrow view of what a theocracy is and no government in the world would qualify as one using this definition.

My answer: Wrong. Socio-political systems which put Sharia Law above all other laws, or otherwise, orders which refer civil/penal disputes to religious courts, can clearly be said to derive law from religion - therefore treating both as being one and the same. This is the case in countries such as Iran and Saudi Arabia (among others) - and both of these qualify as theocracies.

Lynch's point 2: In ancient Greece (and in modern Western society) the law was construed on the basis of philosophical thought.

Ceebs response: Greece would qualify as a theocracy more than Iran would today. The Western legal system is not based on secular thought - it's only influenced by it.

My answer: You are just plain wrong. Although the Greek city states had their Gods, these Gods inspired thoughts on the organization of society and the laws that govern it only in a tangential manner, when at all. There is just NO WAY Greek city states would qualify as being theocracies. Their laws weren't divinely inspired, their governments weren't appointed by Zeus (or his representatives) and the courts were run by arkhons and later, dikastai (civil magistrates)... not clergy. In fact, laws emanated from the City's Assembly, which in Athens, for example, required the presence of 6 000 members prior to holding meetings and voting on laws.

From Homer, Draco and Solon, Attic Law, Plato and Socrates (Athenian Law), Theophrastus... and ultimately to Rome: the law was centered on issues such as tort, property, family relations, marriage, inheritance, the accumulation and transmission of property and wealth, contracts and commerce, slaves, and of course... public order and governance. To put it very simply: deity is almost inexistent on issues such as tort, property and slaves... and is completely peripheral on issues such as public order and governance. If deity is absent, then what else is there to guide human thought in its quest to understand and codify right from wrong and separate good from evil, if not pure philosophy?

As for the influence of this Greek, philosophical thought on larger Western civilization... I would say that it's profound, fundamental and at the core. Period. Christianity was an add-on to the Greek and then Roman concepts of socio-political order, not the other way around, and both of these were secular in their nature.

Just across the pond, Ancient Egypt could clearly qualify as a theocracy. But that's another story.

Lynch's point 3: Religious interpretations of law are immutable whereas Western civilization's interpretations of law adapt to social priorities.

Ceebs response: Immutability is impossible even in the most severe of theocracies, which change and adapt to evolving social environments.

My answer: You're interpreting to the letter. And conceptually, you're totally wrong.

In Islam: Muslims accept the Koran and the Hadith as being THE ONLY sources of the law. Not accepting this is tantamount to questioning one's Muslim faith. The reason why the Koran and the Hadith are THE ONLY sources of the law is because of the imperfection of human reasoning. Only God can know of absolute good and evil and only Prophets can reveal and interpret this knowledge, which is "mutable" only in so far as successive Prophets have spoken... up until the completion of the Koran, the final revelation, containing the most perfect solutions for all questions and answers pertaining to social order: THE Law. The very foundation of this system implies that it is immutable and indeed, Sharia has essentially remained unchanged since it was first formulated. In fact, its immutable nature is what gives Sharia its legitimacy!

In Christianity: The Conciliums and Synods are the bodies which define dogma. This dogma is translated in Acts (Latin: Acta) which defines what we would refer to as religious law. In the Catholic Church, the Pope has ultimate authority to define religious dogma - and since Vatican I is infallible when doing so (point disputed by the Orthodox Church - and a major source of friction between the two till this day). The first Concilium took place in 325 AD. Since that date, ONLY 7 Conciliums have been recognized universally by both the Catholic and Orthodox Churches, dealing with what are considered major interpretations of the Bible and the Christian faith (on issues such as Gnosis, Immaculate Conception, the Filioque, etc). Between 325 AD and the Schism of 1054, there were less than 100 Regional Conciliums. It's important noting that most of these dealt with administrative and territorial issues - NOT with religious dogma. From the Schism to our times, the Catholic Church has held about 40 Conciliums, including Vatican I (1870) and Vatican II (1965) which dealt both with issues relating to religious dogma as well as more general administrative and internal governance issues.

Strictly speaking, we have 7 Conciliums which amended the credo since 325 AD plus another 2 of importance which are purely of Catholic origin. That's 9 constitutional amendments in 1 700 years.

But OK. For the sake of argument, let's say that we have circa 120 Conciliums which modified the "Christian Constitution" over that same period. That's one set of modifications every 15 years on average, bearing in mind that the large majority of these Conciliums dealt with temporal issues of power and politics more than with fundamental issues of faith. Now, compare that to the number of changes in the legal frameworks governing what was once referred to as Christendom and is today known as Western Civilization (including Central & Western Europe, Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Georgia, Armenia, North & South America and Australia - each with its own specific sets of laws) and you're likely to get a ratio of something like 1:1000. I'd say that pretty damn immutable.

To conclude

Looping back to the exchange between Melanchton and Migeru - which started this whole debate... I believe that the role religion plays in shaping the socio-political and legal orders of our communities is not a benign question. Indeed, the question is of extreme importance in that it's one of the core issues contributing to the discord between Western and Islamic civilizations today. The incompatibility between two visions of society - one secular, the other theo-centric (to avoid the term theocratic), and treating all that is Christian, Jewish or atheist as second rate... is probably fueling as much animosity and distrust between these two civilizations, as are other more material considerations.


Display:
I found your arguments regarding how you categorize theocracy and secular systems of government to be the more convincing.  Substantial scholarship on the matter, from Michel Foucault, Martha Nussbaum, and Edward Said, among others, support your view that Western society is essentially predicated upon a discourse that is secular and philosophical when compared to the relationship of identity between God's institutions and the institutions of the Islamic state in places like Iran (but still few other places, even in the Islamic world.)  

There is still a lot of ambiguity going on here, however, especially when you consider Edward Said's thesis -- that it matters a great deal from which perspective you are coming from when creating categories such as "theocracy" and "philosophical."   Any honest summary of Iranian governance would have to put it in a category of theocracy because of the way it uses a particular religious interpretation to both unite people in support of its governance institutions as well as to serve as the standard of good and bad governance institutions.  Western governments, even where policy is influenced heavily by religious beliefs, just doesn't come close to that sort of identity between religion and governance except in the Vatican, which is an exception that proves the point.  

However, Iran is still unambiguously a modern state, according to any honest categorization of modernity. It might not be a Liberal state, even though it has some key elements of liberal democracies, such as elections and social conventions which appeal to "the law" instead of to individuals, but it is certainly modern in the sociological sense of being organized as a particular human response to the great globalizing forces of capitalism and urbanization.

But when looked at that way -- an Oriental response to modernity as opposed to the Western response to modernity -- and when considering that modernity itself is largely a Western, imperial development, it becomes not so clear anymore that the real fault line is between a theocratic version of society against a secular one.  It might instead be an eastern way of dealing with the problems of governance caused by modernity -- slums, mass migration, economic and political dependency, cultural isolation, etc. -- against the Western responses to the same forces that are viewed as causes of those problems as much as solutions -- individual property rights, universal human rights, military dominance, etc.  

by santiago on Fri Aug 20th, 2010 at 04:52:38 PM EST
Lynch's point is that Islamic theocracies support terrorism, and in fact should be included among terrorist organizations. The point, Israel's project to attack Iran, and to get the US to do the dirty deed.

But it looks like the US is not buying, no matter how much pressure it receives from the Israel Lobby and a few looney Neocons.

by shergald on Fri Aug 20th, 2010 at 05:51:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But is a Zionist state not also, by definition, a theocratic one - one that gives a divine right of citizenship to all Jews world-wide no matter how tenuous their connection with Israel, and yet denies citizenship to Palestinians who were ejected from "Israeli" territory?

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Aug 20th, 2010 at 08:11:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
To the contrary, I think the term ethnocracy more aptly describes Israel and its laws, which permit segregation of Jews from Arabs. In this sense, I think that the hyper-religious settlers are just being used as a frontline in the project to ethnically cleanse Eretz Israel of its Palestinian inhabitants.


by shergald on Sat Aug 21st, 2010 at 02:15:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Lynch's point is that Islamic theocracies support terrorism, and in fact should be included among terrorist organizations.

No. That wasn't the point of this diary.

by Lynch on Sat Aug 21st, 2010 at 02:46:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
santiago:
Western society is essentially predicated upon a discourse that is secular and philosophical

No it isn't - or rather, if it is, it's barely so at best.

In spite of attempts to universalise and equalise human rights, the US in particular is a market theocracy. God as an abstraction has been replaced by a slightly fuzzier but equally dominant morality of profit and individual selfishness as a sacred duty.

The tell-tale is the ritualised, compulsive and repetitive nature of business activity.

The US has literally swapped the old guy with the beard for the equally theocratic new guys in suits of the markets, who dominate the government and hold court daily with their bizarre moral speechifying about the an 'economy' - church - that only serves the priesthood.

People who fail the markets by not 'being competitive enough' are punished ruthlessly by losing access to food and housing.

This can be as much of a literal death sentence as stoning.

Market theocracy dominates the time and the mental/emotional space of workers, legislators and high priests to an extent that the Catholic church would have envied at its medieval height.

It's also directly responsible for resource wars, state terrorism and other unwelcome facts of modern life.

Compared to the global carnage left in the wake of the market mullahs, Iran is barely even a player as a terrorist state.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri Aug 20th, 2010 at 07:50:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"The Market" has indeed replaced "the Church" in the narrative structure of neo-conservative thought, complete with mystical concepts of "the magic of the markets" and the notion that the market is always, by definition, right.  Thus secular legislators who seek to regulate the markets are committing some kind of heresy by failing to fall down and worship before the markets.

Ironic, really, when Christ's sole resort to violence was to overthrow the tables of the traders operating within the Church...

Within this framework, to point out that markets are constrained by externalities such as limited global resources or ecological sustainability is to question the infinity of divine providence.  Even  human labour is discounted: it is the entrepreneurs and market players who create the wealth...

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Aug 20th, 2010 at 08:20:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It is interesting to note that the rise of neo-liberal politics and the push-back of neo-classical economics against Keynesian approaches began in earnest about the same time that Time Magazine ran their famous Is God Dead cover in April 1966. Uncle Miltie reintroduced the simile of "The Invisible Hand of the Market" into popular discourse at about the same time.

Perhaps there was little need for Providential Economics earlier, when belief in a Providential God was strong, but when that belief weakened, "The Invisible Hand" as the Left Hand of God had a niche to occupy in the popular mind. Call it the weak version of Divine Providence which rose to prominence when the strong version became increasingly unconvincing. The other great advantage is that it gave the NCE boys the chance to rewrite the rules, or theology, in their favor.  

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Aug 21st, 2010 at 10:53:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It was also the time that God gave us Reagan, Uncle Miltie's favorite son.

by shergald on Sat Aug 21st, 2010 at 02:18:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, RR was certainly on the public stage in 1966 and became Gov. of CA in '67, just in time for my arrival. But he had been in the public eye as the pitchman for Boraxo -- "Death Valley Days for us all!" I used to say. And of course he had been the pitchman for the GE Theater: "Progress is our only product" as I rephrased it. My version proved prophetic.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Aug 21st, 2010 at 03:44:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by vladimir on Mon Aug 23rd, 2010 at 03:26:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by vladimir on Mon Aug 23rd, 2010 at 03:32:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
European Tribune - Comments - On Religion and the Law
Lynch's point 3: Religious interpretations of law are immutable

On the face of it, I am inclined to doubt this assertion, as why else would sharia need to rely on fiqh:

Fiqh - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Fiqh (Arabic: فقه‎, IPA: [fɪqəh]) is Islamic jurisprudence. Fiqh is an expansion of the Sharia Islamic law--based directly on the Quran and Sunnah--that complements Shariah with evolving rulings /interpretations of Islamic jurists.

Indeed, the fact that Sunni Islam alone recognizes four different schools of jurisprudence (not to mention Shia or Salafism) would seem to indicate that, far from being immutable, sharia has in fact undergone mutations over time.

On a related note, Malise Ruthven is an observer on Islam who makes the point the the Koran, being much more poetic and less literal than the Judeo-Christian bible, requires more exigesis, so that it - and thus the law deriving from it - are potentially even more mutable than Bible-based codes.

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman

by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Sat Aug 21st, 2010 at 06:39:54 AM EST
There are two concepts here: one is universality and the other is immutability. In Christianity, the political universality of thought ceased to exist with the Schism in 1054. Today it's represented by 3 major branches, which are: Catholicism, Orthodoxy and Protestantism. Each of these branches, at one point in time, adapted the credo to suit its own specific interpretations of religion. But following this branching off, further modifications were rare. So while there isn't universality, there is relative immutability.

In Sunni Islam, the 4 schools of Sharia you refer to were all established around the 9th and 10th centuries Anno Domini (Shafi'i,  Hanafi,  Maliki  and Hanbali ). In addition, there is Shiite Islam, so clearly there's no universality in dogma.

I would have two questions: the first is, how fundamental are the differences in the interpretation of the Prophets from one school to another and the second is, to what extent have each of these schools altered their credo since the 10th century till today?

by Lynch on Sat Aug 21st, 2010 at 03:05:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Each of these branches, at one point in time, adapted the credo to suit its own specific interpretations of religion. But following this branching off, further modifications were rare. So while there isn't universality, there is relative immutability.

Even Catholicism and Orthodoxy have changed in noticeable ways since The Great Schism. Orthodoxy changed, not least because of the destruction of the Byzantine Empire, of which it was the official state religion, in 1453, though that empire had been weakened, in part by Constatanople being sacked by the Crusaders in the opening years of the 13th century during the Fourth Crusade.

But to call protestantism immutable is ridiculous. Via serial schism it has evolved into a collection of faiths that almost span the possible spectrum of religious belief, if there be limits. And the longer lived products of schism have themselves changed very considerably over time. To point to a few core beliefs that they claim to have conserved, but in different ways each as they will argue endlessly, is rhetorical slight of tongue.  

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Aug 21st, 2010 at 03:57:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I will grant that most like to claim immutability, even if in the face of massive mutation, or, the favorite trick: "this is what Jesus was really saying!"

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Aug 21st, 2010 at 04:00:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I agree that Christianity is anything but immutable. It is important to understand that Christianity exists only because God also was not opposed to change. Following the record of the Bible one sees that God changed the way he dealt with mankind on several occasions throughout history. As far as Christians are concerned, God's decision to engender the age of grace through faith and allow gentiles as well as Jews to avail themselves of his grace, freeing mankind from the overwhelming burden of the law, is the most important change to occur during the past two thousand years. All the petty arguments that have occurred between Christian groups over dogma pale by comparison.    

I can swear there ain't no heaven but I pray there ain't no hell. _ Blood Sweat & Tears
by Gringo (stargazing camel at aoldotcom) on Sat Aug 21st, 2010 at 08:29:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Gringo:
Following the record of the Bible one sees that God changed the way he dealt with mankind on several occasions throughout history.

it is not too often that one hears about god evolving too.

myth or reality, it's still good...

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sun Aug 22nd, 2010 at 08:09:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Heh, heh, well by his own admission he has changed if one is to believe what is written in the Bible. It is full of instances where God is portrayed with a full range of "human-like"(or more accurately God-like) qualities right from the beginning, including anger, jealousy, love, hate, tolerance, intolerance, satisfaction, etc.

E.g., after each phase of creation, he seems to pause to reflect upon success or failure - His first creation: "and God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good:"

Of all his creations, perhaps the biggest disappointment of all has been mankind. In order to tolerate his creation/mankind, it would seem he has had to continually adjust his "attitude" like that of a parent towards a beloved, but disobedient and incorrigible child.

I can swear there ain't no heaven but I pray there ain't no hell. _ Blood Sweat & Tears

by Gringo (stargazing camel at aoldotcom) on Sun Aug 22nd, 2010 at 11:42:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
yeah, well...on my more atheistic/deist days i would think either you're god or you ain't, and if you create incorrigible children, it's your choice and responsibility!

on my more curiously accepting days, i think that god knows quite well how the plot resolves, and the further it goes towards apparently certain doom before the last scene of teary happiness and satisfying explanations that only he knows is coming, then the better. master dramatist at work!

remember perry mason episode endings, where they'd all get together for a drink or a chat after the tense courtroom climax, and tie up the loose ends?

sometimes i dream we're already there, sighing in relief at the miraculous, last possible minute volte-face of human destiny.

then i wake up...

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sun Aug 22nd, 2010 at 08:13:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, I think you hit upon an essential element in accepting or at least tolerating any religion. We just don't know everything and a great deal is just a big why.

I can swear there ain't no heaven but I pray there ain't no hell. _ Blood Sweat & Tears
by Gringo (stargazing camel at aoldotcom) on Sun Aug 22nd, 2010 at 10:18:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I can hear it from the pulpit:

"Did not GAAAWD'S thinking ALSO EVO'OLVE?"

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun Aug 22nd, 2010 at 11:05:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
hail mary, mutant mother of god...

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty
by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Mon Aug 23rd, 2010 at 03:32:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There is nothing mutant about the Virgin Mary Mother of God, except the question of her Immaculate Conception...
by Lynch on Mon Aug 23rd, 2010 at 01:23:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
true dat.

there's nothing strange about flying pigs, except their wings...

:)

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Mon Aug 23rd, 2010 at 02:43:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
...by bestowing us his son, Charles Darwin, apple of his eye...?

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty
by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed Aug 25th, 2010 at 02:02:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
As of the finalization of Christian religious dogma (starting with the Nicene Creed in the 4th century and ending with the Athanasian Crede in the 6th century) till today, the vast majority of Christians (whether Catholic, Orthodox or Protestant) immutably believe that:
  • God is the creator of the universe
  • God comprises three distinct, eternally co-existing persons: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit
  • Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born from the Virgin Mary
  • Jesus is the son of God, God having become human
  • Jesus is the saviour of humanity
  • Jesus is the Messiah prophesied in the Hebrew Bible
  • Jesus, in his human form, suffered the pains and temptations of a mortal man, but did not sin
  • Jesus was resurrected from the dead to open heaven to those who believe in him and trust him for the remission of their sins
  • Jesus ascended into heaven where he rules and reigns with God the Father
  • Jesus will return to judge all humans, living and dead, and grant eternal life to his followers
  • All members of the Christian Church (living and dead, on earth or in heaven) are in spiritual union
  • Christ will come again, bringing the Day of Judgement and salvation of the faithful
  • Human beings experience divine judgment and are rewarded either with eternal life or eternal damnation
  • Sacrament is a rite instituted by Christ that mediates grace and constitutes a sacred mystery
  • There are 7 sacraments: Baptism, Confirmation, the Eucharist, Holy Orders, Confession, Anointing of the Sick and Matrimony
  • The Bible is the authoritative word of God
  • The church is Holy
  • Sunday is the day of communal worship

These beliefs form the basis of the Christian faith and have remained unchanged for over 1400 years. What has changed from one movement to another, over time, is the manner in which some of these points are interpreted, and namely the rituals which are commonly used to celebrate these points by the Church. What has also changed much over the centuries is the politics that govern the church...

Perhaps a useful analogy would be to compare the immutability of religion to the immutability of baking bread. Making bread requires flower, water and yeast. Without these ingredients, you're not making bread. Well, without the immutable list above, you're talking about something other than Christianity.

by Lynch on Sun Aug 22nd, 2010 at 12:47:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
>
These beliefs form the basis of the Christian faith and have remained unchanged for over 1400 years.

Christianity is 2000 years old.

Thus by your own evidence it is not immutable.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.

by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sun Aug 22nd, 2010 at 01:18:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Good of you to join!

I'm not arguing that religion is immutable in absolute terms, but in relative terms (even though the list of beliefs cited above has remained the same over the past 1400 years - and is therefore immutable, even in absolute terms). Just consider that over the same period of time, changes in socio political orders worldwide have spanned: anarchy, chiefdom, feudalism, tyranny, monarchy, constitutional monarchy, theocracy, constitutional theocracy, the republic, democracy, military dictatorship, socialism, communism, free market theocracy, etc. each with its own, fundamentally different sets of beliefs and laws. So, compared to the evolving socio-political orders that we can observe around us, religion is relatively immutable and thus represents a beacon of stability. Whether that's good or bad is another (very interesting) issue which, in my opinion, can be argued both ways.

by Lynch on Mon Aug 23rd, 2010 at 01:25:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Generally I agree, as these relate to the practice of Christianity, but as you imply there are significant disagreements with regard the importance of certain of the sacraments and other points.  It is significant also that these beliefs were essentially agreed upon by a group of men supposedly in good faith and may or may not constitute God's will. We just don't know and a tweak here and there may or may not be justifiable.

I can swear there ain't no heaven but I pray there ain't no hell. _ Blood Sweat & Tears
by Gringo (stargazing camel at aoldotcom) on Sun Aug 22nd, 2010 at 01:22:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Lynch:
There are 7 sacraments: Baptism, Confirmation, the Eucharist, Holy Orders, Confession, Anointing of the Sick and Matrimony

Is it the case for all branches of Christianity? I thought Protestant churches didn't practice confession as the Catholic church does.
by Bernard on Sun Aug 22nd, 2010 at 01:28:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Luther still has confessionals in the Church, part of the Lutheran Liturgy is the spoken by all formulaic, liturgical confession:
Example in german
But it is of course not practised anymore to go to the minister and get individual absolution. Afterall, the ministers role changed in the reformation, from being able to set free (Catholic priest giving absolution), to telling and confirming that the believer was set free in the baptism. Sola Gratia
by PeWi on Sun Aug 22nd, 2010 at 08:12:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
hehe, I should always read the context of what I link to...
That's what I wanted to quote:
"Beichtgebet!
Allmächtiger Gott, barmherziger Vater, ich armer elender, sündiger Mensch bekenne dir alle meine Sünde und Missetat, die ich begangen habe mit Gedanken, Worten und Werken, womit ich dich jemals erzürnt und deine Strafe zeitlich und ewiglich verdient habe. Sie sind mir aber alle herzlich leid und reuen mich sehr und ich bitte dich um deiner grundlosen Barmherzigkeit und des unschuldigen, bitteren Leidens und Sterbens deines lieben Sohnes Jesu Christi willen, du wollest mir armen sündhaften Menschen gnädig und barmherzig sein, mir alle meine Sünden vergeben und zu meiner Besserung deines Geistes Kraft verleihen. Amen."

Which is of course from the Confessio Augustana, which should not be mixed up with the Heidelberg Catechism...

by PeWi on Sun Aug 22nd, 2010 at 08:17:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Danish version of Evangelical-Lutheran Christianity contains only three sacraments: Baptism, confirmation and communion. Actually, I think they dropped confirmation too - I don't think you get excommunicated for turning down confirmation, as long as you continue to pay your membership fees. But I can look it up if anybody's really interested.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sun Aug 22nd, 2010 at 09:32:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Your list is long on dogma and terribly short on ethics, not least Christian ethics and the teaching of the Gospels as the basis of Christianity. I do appreciate that, in a historical perspective, Catholic has taken precedence over Christian.


You're clearly a dangerous pinko commie pragmatist.
by Vagulus on Sun Aug 22nd, 2010 at 01:34:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I completely agree. Law means ethics, not dogma. The dogma might not have changed, but the consequences and behaviours have changed.

Just to give but one example Bonhoeffer and as contrast f.eLudwig Müller? or Julius Leutheuser.
 

by PeWi on Sun Aug 22nd, 2010 at 08:05:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh and the idea of the trinary forms of god was one of the major causes of the split between  Catholic and Orthodox church (The addition of And the son by Frankish theologians to the Nicean creed is one of the major breakup points)

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sun Aug 22nd, 2010 at 01:52:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, I believe (most of)* that, but what it means - that has changed substantially in those 1400 (and even 2950) years

Starting with creation and ending with the bible as authoritative word of god.

Each of your points are of course fundamentals of christian faith, but that does not mean their importance and the understanding of their role hasn't undergone changes.

*f.e Jesus was NOT prophesied in the Hebrew bible! The New Testament references being used are after fact - just compare the two genealogies in Mathew and Luke. And why oh why, does the gospel after Luke puts Jesus as born in Bethlehem?

by PeWi on Sun Aug 22nd, 2010 at 07:46:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
*f.e Jesus was NOT prophesied in the Hebrew bible!

Of course, we know many Christians would disagree, pointing to Isaiah Chap. 9:6 and Daniel Chap 9. as exactly that prophesy of the coming Messiah.

I can swear there ain't no heaven but I pray there ain't no hell. _ Blood Sweat & Tears

by Gringo (stargazing camel at aoldotcom) on Sun Aug 22nd, 2010 at 10:58:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sure, they would - but then there are also a plenty that think, God actually created the world in 6 days and the End of days will come during their livetime.

It depends what you mean by the bible being God's word. Spanning from verbal inspiration to heavily redacted experience of multiple people, written down and altered over 1000 years from Miriam's song to the Apocalypse and the writers and their communities relationship with what they perceived as divine.

And while it might (might!) be more consoling to believe the former - intellectually more honest is the acceptance of the bible as a text located in its history.

by PeWi on Mon Aug 23rd, 2010 at 02:23:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There is, of course, great controversy among Christians and non-Christians over what is in the Bible, how it got there, and, moreover, what it means.

I can swear there ain't no heaven but I pray there ain't no hell. _ Blood Sweat & Tears
by Gringo (stargazing camel at aoldotcom) on Tue Aug 24th, 2010 at 12:07:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And of course, those text prophesied a coming Messiah, but it is interpretation, that the Jesus told of in the New Testament was that Messiah. Most/Many  Jews, as you know, use those text as indication that the Messiah is still to come. And the New Testament usage is only one of the more pronounced usages of those text as pointing towards one particular individual.
by PeWi on Mon Aug 23rd, 2010 at 02:29:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Most/Many  Jews, as you know, use those text as indication that the Messiah is still to come.

Yes, I know.

I can swear there ain't no heaven but I pray there ain't no hell. _ Blood Sweat & Tears

by Gringo (stargazing camel at aoldotcom) on Tue Aug 24th, 2010 at 12:01:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The emphasis on the God-Jesus aspect, as opposed to the God-Father or the God-Ghost aspects, seems to be a Calvinist peculiarity. Scandinavian Lutheran tradition emphasises invocation of God and the holy spirit for the salvation and divine grace bits, and associates Jesus more with the role of prophet and sacrifice.

Of course the theology makes no distinction, since all three are avatars of the same deity. OTOH, the official theology does not recognise the Bible as the word of God.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sun Aug 22nd, 2010 at 09:43:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
By calling Jesus and the Holy Ghost "avatars" of the same deity - instead of three persons (hypostasis) of the same substance (homoousios and not homoiousios), you just committed the crime of Sabellianism. You must therefore be burnt at the stake.

"Ce qui vient au monde pour ne rien troubler ne mérite ni égards ni patience." René Char
by Melanchthon on Mon Aug 23rd, 2010 at 04:56:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Heh. I didn't realise that Christianity was an officially polytheist religion.

As an aside, I wonder what political schism underpinned the flare-up over such a trivial nitpick in the first place?

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Aug 23rd, 2010 at 05:31:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It was most probably internicine power struggle within the Roman christian sect.

Later on, the banning of Arianism at the first Council of Nicaea was a way for Constantine to impose his power on the christian churches after the Edict of Milan.

For your theological education, here is the Athanasian Creed:


"Ce qui vient au monde pour ne rien troubler ne mérite ni égards ni patience." René Char

by Melanchthon on Mon Aug 23rd, 2010 at 06:51:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Ah, it appears that I have been mislead by my mathematical training, into believing that identity relations are transitive (that is, if A = B and B = C then A = C).

Clearly, then, God expresses herself in non-Boolean algebra. Fuzzy logic, perhaps?

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Aug 23rd, 2010 at 07:27:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
As my tagline suggests, we need evidence-based governance, not revelation-based governance.

That would be the difference: the possibility of mutually agreed evidence about how humans work.

Secular is increasing, and it's better. Islam sucketh.

Don't make it complicated with your accidental knowledges of religion.

Align culture with our nature. Ot else!

by ormondotvos (ormond.otvosnospamgmialcon) on Mon Aug 23rd, 2010 at 04:52:31 AM EST
In Islam, the hadiths* are not God's speak (except for the few sacred ones), but statements attributed to the Prophet, his companions and his companions successors. They have been transmitted through oral tradition (isnad) until they were written down during the 8th and 9th centuries.

There are several sets of hadiths, the authenticity of some of them being questioned. Sunni and Shi'a Muslims refer to different sets of hadiths, and they have been several interpretations of these hadiths.

* interestingly, hadith means "narrative"...

"Ce qui vient au monde pour ne rien troubler ne mérite ni égards ni patience." René Char

by Melanchthon on Mon Aug 23rd, 2010 at 05:25:08 AM EST
But the claims remain that these are God's work, and each refers to Allah as arbiter, through the Koran. Allah is, of course, out of town this week.

Align culture with our nature. Ot else!
by ormondotvos (ormond.otvosnospamgmialcon) on Mon Aug 23rd, 2010 at 06:13:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It depends on how you define god's work. The hadiths are not the words of god (except, again for the sacred ones). they are explanations attributed to humans (the Prophet and his followers).

"Ce qui vient au monde pour ne rien troubler ne mérite ni égards ni patience." René Char
by Melanchthon on Mon Aug 23rd, 2010 at 06:56:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
People are demonstrating in NY against the Ground Zero Mosque.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-11054868
by vladimir on Mon Aug 23rd, 2010 at 08:22:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
China invests in confident Christians
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-pacific-11020947
by vladimir on Tue Aug 24th, 2010 at 02:57:50 AM EST
Beware of large percentages from small baselines.

(And beware of large increases in reported incidence just after a prohibition has been lifted or reporting routines have changed.)

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Aug 24th, 2010 at 04:08:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well my Father has been retired for at least ten years, but before that he installed printing machines worldwide.  One of the places he installed printing presses was at the Amity press in Nanjing. Looking at their latest figures in 2008 they've produced 58 million bibles. the vast majority of which are for the internal market.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Tue Aug 24th, 2010 at 06:51:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
are christianity and communism so incompatible?

discuss/shred...

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Tue Aug 24th, 2010 at 07:39:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well whenever people bring the idea up that the Chinese government is savagely repressing all Christians I always wonder how they would ever have let this be set up if that is true.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Tue Aug 24th, 2010 at 07:57:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Not at all. Both are "sacrifice self for reward later" mind sets. Mind you, I'm talking about how communism is currently practiced in a place like China, not how it CAN be implemented in a non-totalitarian state.

They tried to assimilate me. They failed.
by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Tue Aug 24th, 2010 at 07:59:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Jesus was a socialist! Interesting how the 'Christian' Democratic or other factions are on the conservative right instead of on the left.
by vladimir on Tue Aug 24th, 2010 at 08:35:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
a 'socialist' huh? not a pinko commie then, whew...

i guess what i find disturbing is

 1.the possibility that this 'christianity' may be the kind the Family is touting in africa, i.e. homophobic/retrogressive,

 2. that it is a socially passive form of christianity that emphasises 'accepting the chinese goverment's god's will as reason to roll over thoughts of a better world here and now into the 'pie when you die' dept. (in other words more hopium of the people...)

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed Aug 25th, 2010 at 01:54:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]


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