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Author Topic: Religion and Obedience (Re: So Wrong...)  (Read 4390 times)

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Offline BrandonTopic starter

Religion and Obedience (Re: So Wrong...)
« on: August 27, 2010, 08:25:46 PM »
A comparison to a dog can be seen either as denigrating and dehumanizing or as commending fidelity and obedience, which are Christian virtues. Still, even if he wants to make a point about fidelity and obedience to the Christian god, it seems like he has to be awfully dense to be ignorant of the other potential interpretations.

Fidelity certainly, but I wouldnt agree with obedience as a christian virtue. It is a commonly misunderstood idea from non-christians though. There are many "rules" within the bible and thus Christian dogma but one often overlooked thing is the idea of choice. For example while some people might argue that the ten commandments force people to behave a certain way but what they often fail to realize is the choice to follow the commandments is up to the individual, they only have to face the consequences for their actions

Offline Serephino

Re: Religion and Obedience (Re: So Wrong...)
« Reply #1 on: August 27, 2010, 09:12:07 PM »
I went to church as a teenager every Sunday for four years.  The blind obedience thing is not a misconception.  Sure, you can choose to not follow God's law, but the consequence is burning in Hell for all eternity.  What kind of a choice is that?  Christianity makes my head hurt, but that's a whole other topic. 

The video is kind of degrading.  Christians are loyal dogs kept on leashes?  WTF?  It's right up there with that Jesus Camp telling kids they should be prepared to give their lives for Christ.  What was that guy smoking?

Offline BrandonTopic starter

Re: Religion and Obedience (Re: So Wrong...)
« Reply #2 on: August 27, 2010, 09:28:02 PM »
I went to church as a teenager every Sunday for four years.  The blind obedience thing is not a misconception.  Sure, you can choose to not follow God's law, but the consequence is burning in Hell for all eternity.  What kind of a choice is that?  Christianity makes my head hurt, but that's a whole other topic. 


Yes it is a misconception. I wont dispute that some people blindly follow whatever a book says but not everyone does, in fact most of them dont. Most of them ask questions and come to their own conclusions

Any choice is still choice. You arent forced to do anything but just like anything you must face consequences for your actions. Thats what people dont seem to get about the "rules" of any religion but lets use your logic for a moment. A soldier refusing to deploy faces at least reduction in rank and at worst prison time. So heres your same question, what kind of choice is that?

« Last Edit: August 27, 2010, 09:29:20 PM by Brandon »

Offline BrandonTopic starter

Re: Religion and Obedience (Re: So Wrong...)
« Reply #3 on: August 27, 2010, 09:36:51 PM »
As I said wolfy

Quote
Yes it is a misconception. I wont dispute that some people blindly follow whatever a book says but not everyone does, in fact most of them dont. Most of them ask questions and come to their own conclusions

This could include the Westbro baptist church

However, are you really going to stand there and say that all christians blindly follow a book? Especially knowing that I'm one?

Offline Wolfy

Re: Religion and Obedience (Re: So Wrong...)
« Reply #4 on: August 27, 2010, 09:38:54 PM »
No. I was referring to Westboro Baptist only....

They. Are. Insane.

At least in my opinion, anyway.

Offline DarklingAlice

Re: Religion and Obedience (Re: So Wrong...)
« Reply #5 on: August 28, 2010, 02:00:33 AM »
Fidelity certainly, but I wouldnt agree with obedience as a christian virtue. It is a commonly misunderstood idea from non-christians though. There are many "rules" within the bible and thus Christian dogma but one often overlooked thing is the idea of choice. For example while some people might argue that the ten commandments force people to behave a certain way but what they often fail to realize is the choice to follow the commandments is up to the individual, they only have to face the consequences for their actions

As Paul wrote in his letter to the Romans: "For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous."

Don't forget that although a non-Christian now, I was educated by the Church and still remember both my scripture and catechism. Obedience to god is a major theme, and the primary virtue of both Abraham and the Virgin Mary. You are correct that there is full freedom of choice (although if we review the scripture, we can see that Seraphino is correct that at times god behaves rather like a man with a gun to your head). Were there not, obedience would not be a virtue. Obedience can only exist when the ability to disobey exists and obedience to god is quite clearly expressed as right and virtuous.

To quote the catechism:
Quote
148. The Virgin Mary most perfectly embodies the obedience of faith. By faith Mary welcomes the tidings and promise brought by the angel Gabriel, believing that "with God nothing will be impossible" and so giving her assent: "Behold I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be [done] to me according to your word." Elizabeth greeted her: "Blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfilment of what was spoken to her from the Lord." It is for this faith that all generations have called Mary blessed.

I am not referring to obedience to a book, but rather obedience to god.

Although, this begins to stray a bit from the original topic. If you or Serephino would like to discuss it further it would probably be more considerate to start another thread (or maybe even using the dialogue subforum) rather than argue here. If you want to talk to me about this or have an issue with my view on the issue, feel free to PM me.

Online Silk

Re: Religion and Obedience (Re: So Wrong...)
« Reply #6 on: August 28, 2010, 02:28:57 AM »
I'm quite glad that Christians don't blindly follow such a abhorrent book anymore or there would be alot more WBC members.

Offline Oniya

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Re: Religion and Obedience (Re: So Wrong...)
« Reply #7 on: August 28, 2010, 02:44:09 AM »
As I've said before, if you read the red words, the message is much the same as any other religious text:  Be good to each other in this life, and look forward to something better in the next.  There's no reason to call it abhorrent, just because it's not your religion.  It hasn't been mine for years.

Online Silk

Re: Religion and Obedience (Re: So Wrong...)
« Reply #8 on: August 28, 2010, 02:54:58 AM »
As I've said before, if you read the red words, the message is much the same as any other religious text:  Be good to each other in this life, and look forward to something better in the next.  There's no reason to call it abhorrent, just because it's not your religion.  It hasn't been mine for years.

Genocides, Slavery, condoned rapes, tortures and so on are all pretty abhorrent

Offline DarklingAlice

Re: Religion and Obedience (Re: So Wrong...)
« Reply #9 on: August 28, 2010, 03:04:22 AM »
Genocides, Slavery, condoned rapes, tortures and so on are all pretty abhorrent

I believe that Oniya was referring specifically to the words of Christ, as opposed to say the OT or the actions of the church. It is a shame, but the actions of the religious are often in discord with their own texts.

Although, this is probably not the best place for this discussion.
« Last Edit: August 28, 2010, 03:05:24 AM by DarklingAlice »

Online Silk

Re: Religion and Obedience (Re: So Wrong...)
« Reply #10 on: August 28, 2010, 03:22:51 AM »
I believe that Oniya was referring specifically to the words of Christ, as opposed to say the OT or the actions of the church. It is a shame, but the actions of the religious are often in discord with their own texts.

Although, this is probably not the best place for this discussion.

Its entirely relevant, because if Christians were to follow their book entirely, with no breaks or critical thinking involved. As much as people like to pretend it isnt, the old testament is still part of the bible, so if you are to follow it in its ENTIRITY then that would include the old testament. If it was a seperate book you might have cause for arguement, but it isn't.

But Christians do no blindly follow the bible to the letter, and as such. The Abhorrent practices seen within it are not continued.

Offline BrandonTopic starter

Re: Religion and Obedience (Re: So Wrong...)
« Reply #11 on: August 28, 2010, 03:39:14 AM »
Im no biblilcal scholar. Never have been. Probably never will be. The one thing in that kind of argument that I think is often overlooked is, the old testament really isnt taught much anymore. When I was a kid and went to the religious school (I had regular school and then a sort of sunday school except it wasnt held on sunday) everything we were taught was from the new testament except for a few pieces of the old testament. Old testament things I do remember being taught include genisis (the creation of the universe), heaven & hell, the ten commandments, confessions, and when I was a teenager we got around to sex stuff.

That said, I look at the disciplinary rules of the old testament similar to how you might see the old volume of a book. To put it in game terms (specifically dungeons and dragons game terms) it would be like New testament is Pathfinder while old testament is 2nd edition. Two very different sets of rules that for the time dont apply to the other

That may have made more sense in my head...

Anyway, my earlier point about obediance not being a christian virtue is more inclusive to catholosism so maybe thats where the difference is?

Edit: Also I dont really care to debate it. Some people will swear up and down that thats the case and cling to the bible as a "you have to follow this" piece of evidence while failing to realize that its not followed to the letter. I dont care to get involved with thsoe people
« Last Edit: August 28, 2010, 05:08:27 AM by Brandon »

Offline DarklingAlice

Re: Religion and Obedience (Re: So Wrong...)
« Reply #12 on: August 28, 2010, 03:49:32 AM »
As much as people like to pretend it isnt, the old testament is still part of the bible, so if you are to follow it in its ENTIRITY then that would include the old testament. If it was a seperate book you might have cause for arguement, but it isn't.

The bible is a plethora of separate documents written by disparate people in disparate times for disparate purposes. It has been collected by fallible mortal agency and should not be regarded as cohesive or entirely non-contradictory as it is a collection of multiple, separate pieces. Christianity, as the name indicates, is in its broadest sense the following of Christ. Who notably did not blindly follow the OT law.

And I continue to fail to see what relevance this has to the video <_<

(EDIT: Very much thanks to whoever split this off! ^_^)
« Last Edit: August 28, 2010, 11:02:33 AM by DarklingAlice »

Offline Oniya

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Re: Religion and Obedience (Re: So Wrong...)
« Reply #13 on: August 28, 2010, 11:43:27 AM »
Its entirely relevant, because if Christians were to follow their book entirely, with no breaks or critical thinking involved. As much as people like to pretend it isnt, the old testament is still part of the bible, so if you are to follow it in its ENTIRITY then that would include the old testament. If it was a seperate book you might have cause for arguement, but it isn't.

But Christians do no blindly follow the bible to the letter, and as such. The Abhorrent practices seen within it are not continued.

I'm not a Biblical scholar either, although I did take a semester of Biblical Study in college - after coming out of the 'broom closet'.  I also went through Catholic religious education through 8th grade.

There are several places in the New Testament where the 'Old Covenant', i.e., that made with Moses, is said to be supplanted by the 'New Covenant', i.e., that made by the intercession of Jesus.  Specifically, in the Epistles, it is said that Gentiles are not under the jurisdiction of the Pentateuch: "I said unto Peter before them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?" (Gal.2:14).  The Old Testament is included as part of the history of the religion - how they got to where they are now - and in the New Testament, there is a profound shift that, as described in its text, caused a lot of turmoil. 

It's no different from an American History book describing the events prior to and including the Civil War.  Does that make that American History book abhorrent, just because it talks of condoned slavery, and then describes how the country has moved beyond it?

(By the way, Brandon - I really liked that analogy.)
« Last Edit: August 28, 2010, 11:44:42 AM by Oniya »

Offline HairyHeretic

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Re: Religion and Obedience (Re: So Wrong...)
« Reply #14 on: August 28, 2010, 12:40:29 PM »
Wasn't there a guy in recent years made a book or film about his experiences of spending a year following every rule in the Bible?

Offline Neroon

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Re: Religion and Obedience (Re: So Wrong...)
« Reply #15 on: August 28, 2010, 01:19:27 PM »
OK, it's a long time since I argued theology but here goes.  Please accept my apologies if the follwoing wall o' text is a bit garbled or sounds like a sermon; I'm sort of thinking aloud, and thinking in the religious mode brings back rhetorical habits which I forewent two decades ago.

Mainstream Christian belief is that the Old Testament  is not to be taken literally, either as a historical document or as a book of law.  It is provided as a resource of traditions so that the teaching of the New Testament can be understood in context.  Consequently, the OT contains not only the mythology of the Jewish people but also the development of their laws and also of their understanding of God.  This has to be the case in any document that is collated over thousands of years.

No doubt someone will try and say, "Ah, but isn't the Bible supposed to be written as a result of divine revelation and therefore can't  be false?"  Well, I would say then, yes and no.  The thing about divine revelation is that it is analagous to a parent talking to his or her child.  When I explain things to my two-year-old son I use very different concepts and tones than I do when I explain to my sixteen-year-old daughter.  With the two yeal old I am much more authoritarian and much less nuanced than when I talk to the sixteen year old.  It has to be like that because no matter how intelligent my son might be (and like every father I hope my child is very intelligent indeed) he simply lacks the knowledge and experience to be able to cope with more nuanced understandings.  Thus I tell him "Don't play with the electricity sockets, it's naughty, dangerous and you could die," while I am quite happy to teach my daughter how to wire a plug and discuss the relative merits of residual current circuit breakers and earth leakage circuit breakers.  He life and experience allows her to access the deeper and more nuanced understanding.

So we look at the beginnings of the OT and we see documents that were written for a primitive and nomadic society.  There may well have been some incredibly intelligent and talented people in it but, on the whole we're looking at a society that was just coming out of the stone age and into the Bronze age.  In what way would such a society be able to accept or understand the concepts which guide our modern society?  Much of what we consider to be necessary rules for civilised living would be met with blank incomprehension.

While the OT may not be particularly relevant to today's living, it is still important to see how the ideas therein developed.  In doing so, we gain a better understanding of current ideas and are therefore better able to understand them.  Thus we see a system in the OT which is excessively legalistic with a whole plethora of rules to cover every situation that the Isrealites might have had to deal with.  As the society evolved, the philosophy changed from the authoritan one of the OT to one which requires greater understanding in the NT.  All of the OT commandments (and there are a whole lot more than just ten) are condensed to the priciple of love: to love God and to love one's neighbour as oneself (for those obsessed with references you can find it in Matthew 22: 34-36, Mark 12: 28-34 and Luke 10: 25-28).  This is the fulfillment of the law of which Christ spoke.

Living with a guiding principle which you have to interpret isn't easy; it's hard.  There's none of the comfy certainty there that atheists often claim that Christians cling to, you have to work it out for yourself, which is scary stuff.  After all, you might get it wrong.  It's no surprise, therefore, that while much of the OT is set out as law, much of the NT is set as teaching, to furnish those that believe with the necessary understanding with which to apply the principle of love.  Again, you can see this transition as you look through the OT, with the teaching in the Book of Proverbs and later in the Book of the Wisdom of Solomon (the lack of which makes protestant bibles all the poorer).  It's not as expansive and is more authoritarian than the Pauline epistles but it shows the evolution of ideas.

So following that evolution of thought, Christianity is not meant to be a matter of blindly following rules. Judiasm was but Christianity wasn't.  Christian's are called to be obedient to the principle of love but not blindly obedient to the laws laid down in the OT: that's why Christians can eat pork and don't have to be circumcised, to give but two examples.  Inevitably, people will succumb to the temptation to go back to the legalistic living of the OT, after all people like certainty.  However, in doing so, they move away from the Christian ideal and, if they start using their rules as clubs with which to batter and beat and otherwise bully others into conforming to their twisted version of Christianity, they are not fit to own the name, Christian.

In the end, it's not the Bible nor Christianity nor- to widen things- religion in general that makes people blindly follow rules, it's basic human nature.

Offline Jude

Re: Religion and Obedience (Re: So Wrong...)
« Reply #16 on: August 28, 2010, 02:47:42 PM »
I could dig out plenty of quotes that encourage blind obedience in the bible, but unless someone would actually be convinced by such, I'm not gonna bother.  I have a feeling if I did, the argument would simply be about literalism as has been debated thus far.

It seems to me that biblical non-literalists forget the reason why biblical literalists believe what they do:  once you accept that something is fallible it becomes a question of "where does doubt stop?"  All of the arguments Neroon put forth about why the OT should be greeted with skepticism and doubt easily extend into the NT as well, as times have changed just as much going from the OT to the NT as they have from the NT to now.  Literalists know that once you open the door, further non-biased analysis and critical thinking leads to a rejection (or at the very least a deemphasis) on all of the tough-to-believe, supernatural, and faith-based concepts in the bible.

Or in short:  when you start cutting away non-logical and inconvenient with a scalpel, by the time you're done carving up the NT there isn't much left.  Any church who rigidly applies logical principles while accepting doctrinal fallibility may as well be distributing the Jefferson Bible for Sunday selected readings.

EDIT:  Edited upon request.
« Last Edit: August 28, 2010, 03:30:05 PM by Jude »

Offline BrandonTopic starter

Re: Religion and Obedience (Re: So Wrong...)
« Reply #17 on: August 28, 2010, 02:54:36 PM »
If you were to trim away aspects of the bible that no longer apply to society, lets say slavery for example. How does that stop one from believing in the, as you put it, "supernatural" events?

Edit: Also lets not refer to it as nonsense, I find that kind of offensive. If you like we could just call it things that dont make sense
« Last Edit: August 28, 2010, 03:15:21 PM by Brandon »

Offline Jude

Re: Religion and Obedience (Re: So Wrong...)
« Reply #18 on: August 28, 2010, 03:35:12 PM »
Because when you realize that some claims being made within the bible are inaccurate, false, or no longer applicable, you have to ask yourself why the same logic can't be applied to the entire book.  And given that there is no evidence to support the claims therein, admitting fault exposes a big chink in the armor of faith.  That's why fundamentalists exist.

Offline BrandonTopic starter

Re: Religion and Obedience (Re: So Wrong...)
« Reply #19 on: August 28, 2010, 04:21:53 PM »
When in the case of any past document that governs a culture, the culture looks at it for guidance. Very similar to how the United states looks to the constitution to figure out what is within the power of the government or what kinds of rights the people have. In the case of religion and their own cultural evolution sometimes a situation comes up where they must rely on their religious texts to figure out how to deal with a specific situation. If there is only 1 mention of that subject in the entire text then theres really no wiggle room for them until the culture as a whole moves away from it (like christianity has done with slavery)

When a situation becomes irrelavant for any reason, that only means that the religion doesnt need to address it anymore. Its not a matter of whats true or false in that case, its a matter of does it still apply to the culture?


Offline Neroon

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Re: Religion and Obedience (Re: So Wrong...)
« Reply #20 on: August 28, 2010, 05:45:17 PM »
I hinted, though I did not overtly state, that the reason fundamentalists exist is because they do not want to exercise their intelligence and will not try to live according to the principle and instead would rather legislate and I am not attempting to suggest in any way that all Christians view the evolving scripture model that I described.  The reason I presented it was to counterbalance the impression that had been given by others in this thread that all Christians are bigots that blindly follow rules that were written for a society that existed over 4000 years ago.  The point I was making that the Bibe talks of obedience to God, not to the words written therein.  No this might sound like a very fine hair but is a valid distinction, if you're talking about Christians.  Those who own the name base their beliefs on the actions of Christ as described in the gospels.  It is interesting that those who crucified him and who persecuted his followers were those who believed in blind obedience to the words written in scripture.  What does that tell you of the views of the Christ presented in the gospels to blind obedience to words written on paper?

I agree that the world has indeed changed since the time of the gospels, indeed, it has changed much more than it had to between the writing of the Pentateuch and the first century A.D.  However, our aility to interpret the principle of love has not.  If the cornerstone of your philosophy is that you have towork out for yourself how to apply the principle of loving God and then loving others as yourself to each situation you find youself, what more needs to be added to scripture?  It has taken us to the point where we have to be accountable for ourselves, where we use our intellects to judge each situation on its merits and then decide the right thing to do.

Where does the doubt end for me?  It doesn't.  However, I don't see doubt as a chink in the armour of my faith, I see it as a strength.  Doubt forces us to reevaluate our choices and if that evaluation shows up a fault in my choices I can do something to change it.

Just one thing I'd like to know, why is it so important to convince me that Christianity is wrong?  After all, I'm not trying to convince anyone it's right, I'm just trying to correct a misconception that Christians automatically and blindly follow everything written in the Bible.

Offline Jude

Re: Religion and Obedience (Re: So Wrong...)
« Reply #21 on: August 28, 2010, 06:02:41 PM »
Where does the doubt end for me?  It doesn't.  However, I don't see doubt as a chink in the armour of my faith, I see it as a strength.  Doubt forces us to reevaluate our choices and if that evaluation shows up a fault in my choices I can do something to change it.

Just one thing I'd like to know, why is it so important to convince me that Christianity is wrong?  After all, I'm not trying to convince anyone it's right, I'm just trying to correct a misconception that Christians automatically and blindly follow everything written in the Bible.
I find your positions admirable and I am not seeking to convince you that Christianity is wrong.  My comments weren't aimed at someone with a position like yours, but at the kind of believer who resists, abhors, and denies doubt outside of the areas where they deem it acceptable for some indecipherable reason.

Faith isn't dangerous, absolute certainty is.

Offline Neroon

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Re: Religion and Obedience (Re: So Wrong...)
« Reply #22 on: August 28, 2010, 06:07:53 PM »
Faith isn't dangerous, absolute certainty is.

I'm absolutely certain you're right.

Sorry, couldn't resist it :p

Offline Noelle

Re: Religion and Obedience (Re: So Wrong...)
« Reply #23 on: August 28, 2010, 08:59:51 PM »
To my knowledge, the comparison between the Bible and the Constitution isn't entirely apt...I don't believe there are certain sections of the Constitution we ignore if society no longer needs it. If there is, I am honestly unaware of it. There are different amendments made and so forth, but the Bible has so many different translations and versions whereas the United States upholds but one Constitution. I suppose it's up to judges to make a "translation" thereof in various court cases, but their translations stem from one agreed-upon version of the document whereas you will get a million different answers talking to any given Christian as to what they believe is and is not relevant.

I guess this in of itself confuses me; just how irrelevant can the Bible become, and if it's the word of God, then what does that say of the influence the book should or should not have? If society's norms speak louder than the texts in a supposed holy book, what does that say of the religion it supports? Why should a person look towards it for guidance when the more influential source is what society is doing? It sounds to me like the Bible would be better written as a textbook that gets updated every few years (a la college students...can you imagine?) to reflect what should and shouldn't be taken seriously.

Offline Serephino

Re: Religion and Obedience (Re: So Wrong...)
« Reply #24 on: August 28, 2010, 09:40:42 PM »
I guess the best example of what I was saying would be the story of Jonah.  I can't remember what he was supposed to do, but he decided to disobey God.  Then God had him swallowed by a whale and carried to where he was supposed to go.  So yes, the choice is yours, but there will be negative consequences if you don't follow the rules.

I guess the rules depend on what detonation you are.  Catholics are the strictest I think, and I will never understand them.  The church I went to was Methodist.  In that church the sermons came from both OT and NT.  I do remember though on Rosh Hashanna (sp?) or otherwise known as Jewish New Years, we learned about it in Sunday School, and even went to a nearby river and threw dirt into it.  I felt really silly.

Before we attended the Methodist church, I went to Sunday School at a Lutheran church.  They focused mostly on the OT.  More than once I wondered why Jewish history was relevant to Christians.  Then I found out that the OT and the Torah are practically the same book and became really confused as to why it's included in the Bible.