Moral relativism believes that there is no right or wrong simply that all beliefs are valid and can be true. There is no truth to be had. Neroon is not making an argument in favor of that concept. The argument he made is that the Bible operates as a continuum where the interpretation of the true meaning changes as people delve deeper into understanding the words. The Truth exists but we must move forward in order to understand. Neroon is wrong in believing that Jude is attempting to make an appeal to authority, instead he is attempting to falsely label an argument in order to force a contradiction with the Pope. Neroon has outlined a beautiful interpretation of the Bible, one that will hopefully be mimicked by others.
What you describing above is not moral relativism. Moral nihilism is the belief that claims there is no right or wrong, not moral relativism. Moral relativism claims that morals exist within a particular time and place and that moral beliefs are determined largely by culture and setting. This is exactly what Brandon was describing when he mentioned the bits about slavery, etc.
The Protestant Reformation should be proof enough that Christians do not follow blindly. An entire sect of Christianity was formed because people were displeased with their Church and the path they felt they were taking. The many ideas, philosophies and writings that emerge from people with religious backgrounds should further uphold this point. Among the Catholic Church alone are many Orders and Nunneries, each with their own stated missions and emphasis on what is valued. There is a great diversity in thought and action among Catholics. They are not to be easily pressed into a mold.
The Pope's authority in the church is absolute. I'm sure there are those who disagree with him, but he sets the agenda and official opinions for the entirety of the church. Disagreement doesn't change doctrine or dogma. I was never arguing about individual opinion.
Actually Jude, yes it is an apeal to authority. You're saying that because the Pope believes differently, it's not mainstream. So you are using the authority of the Pope to justify your opinion. That's plain and simple. You have a reputation for rigour and honesty that means I really didn't expect such a tactic nor you to attempt to wriggle out of by trying to perpetrate the myth that the Catholics speak for all Christians.
You seem to be glossing over a very important part of what I said, they key word here is dogma
. Dogma is not determined by the opinions of laypersons. I was not making the argument that because the Pope believes x, the entire Catholic congregation believes x (I can recognize that's a fallacy), I was making the argument that because the Pope has stated x in an official capacity the dogma reflects it. I'm not debating the opinions of the masses because I don't have the numbers to do so.
As Oniya said, Catholicism isn't the definition of the mainstream of Christianity. If you look at it historically, Rome is one of the five Patriarchates of the original Church and split from the other four over a number of things, not least the Roman patriarch wanting to be supreme over the others and the introduction of a word into the Roman version of Nicene creed that could be implied as a blasphemy against the Holy Spirit (I believe the word might be filioque but I digress). Now those churches got into the whole which is the right one or not and ended up adopting the terms Orthodox (i.e correct) and Catholic (i.e. Universal) much as the different manufacturers of Swiss Army Knives have adopted the terms Original and Genuine. Just as the neither one of the Swiss Army Knives can reliably claim that they really are original or genuine, the Cathilics cannot claim to be the universal church anymore than the Orthodox can claim to be the only right church. When you add the whole gamut of Protestants to the mix, then the situation becomes even murkier as to what the mainstream of Christian thought is.
You're right, but there is no universal church. Christianity represents an umbrella of religions which is split into pieces by denomination. They all have one thing in common: the bible. However, each denomination uses different translations. Furthermore, every single religious individual has their own interpretations on top of that. Take Brandon for instance, he identifies as Catholic but he's against their policies on homosexuals. It's kind of meaningless (and completely impossible) in my opinion to discuss the beliefs of individuals while ignoring the source of those beliefs: the Church's dogma.
Generally, the mainstream would be that Christ died to save us all, if we but ask for it, the idea that this salvation by grace and not by good works and those two commandments that I have repeated in this thread enough times that those reading must be becoming sick of seeing them: to love God first and to love our neighbours as ourselves second. More than that, there's discussion and argument: as I pointed out above, even the Creed is not common ground. Just because one segment is larger than the others it does not make it the majority nor does it have the right to speak for the others.
If the largest segment of Christianity that composes 1/7 of the entire world has written in its dogma what I said, that's a pretty good indication that it's a mainstream doctrinal concept. Also, when the Pope said what he did about "moral relativism" it was during mass: it was given in an official capacity.
Don't get me wrong. I agree with you guys that a good number of Christians don't believe in a literal interpretation of the bible (though I don't know how high the percentages are), but it seems very disingenuous to me to claim that "Christianity" doesn't, considering there is no universal Christianity and the concept is part of the text that defines many denominations of the church. There are also numerous quotes throughout (to bring this back to the original point) that demand obedience. However, this is an argument that I've had before on E, and last time we talked about whether or not Christianity encourages blind faith it devolved into a discussion that went no where.
The truth of the matter is, there are some sects of Christianity that don't encourage blind faith. There are some that do. Just as there are some groups which believe in biblical literalism and those that do not. There are Christians who make the world a better place to live in and there are those who exist as a force of self-righteousness and negativity. Trying to paint an entire group one way or the other is an exercise in futility, especially with something as nebulous and difficult to comprehend as someone's personal religion, which has everything to do with practice not theory.
There are a great number of Christians in the world who are deserving of not simply tolerance, but respect. I'd include nearly every Christian I've argued with on E in that group, Brandon, Neroon, and everyone else, you guys are incredibly forward-thinking and progressive. In Brandon's case, he's doing his best to change the Catholic Church from within: that is incredibly admirable. My issue is not with you, but with the institutions and individuals that support the more obtuse Christian concepts.
I have to admit that when the discussion first started I assumed that several people were supporting a literal interpretation because of the discussion going on. I'm finding that's a dangerous road to take, even if it seems rational at the time. Just because someone is giving the beginning of an argument that you think you know where it ends doesn't mean it's fair or correct to assume the ending. I was wrong to do so, but please extend the same courtesy to me. In religious discussions time and time again people assume I'm trying to convince people to walk away from their faith, that I am claiming their beliefs are false, etc., but I never actually have said any of that. It isn't what I believe.
I'm a dedicated agnostic, I place emphasis on doubt and not knowing. I don't much care what other people believe so long as it does hurt other people, but I'm finding that the more extreme religious ideologies that eschew doubt also tend to be the groups that are more likely to impress their beliefs on culture, society, and government. Living in America where religious belief is mainstream and its incorporation into public life is becoming increasingly prevalent colors my arguments, perhaps unfairly when I deal with people like Neroon who couldn't be farther from that sentiment.