The many flavors of Christianity

There are Christians out there that are concerned about saving my soul. Some of them are friends of mine, some of you have just read my words on the 'net. Most of you are very kind, a few are not. Besides the salvation of my soul most of you have one thing in common.

You don't agree with each other.

Is there a hell, or are we just 'separated' from God? There is disagreement. Is Divorce (and remarriage) allowed, or is it not? There is disagreement. Is the universe 14 billion years old (give or take several billions) or is it closer to thousands of years old, and made in mere days. There is disagreement.

What is the path to salvation, and what keeps you off of that path? Sadly, for this most important of questions, you disagree.

I point out in my blog the extreme interpretations of Christian text and myth held by a portion of Christians to show that I'm bombarded with advertising from different Christian groups selling their particular Christian flavor.

The original Gospels, vitally important to today's Christians, are lost. They were translated into Greek, copied, and the copies sent out to other cities to be copied. As they were copied, city by city, each new copy gained, or lost, text. Christian scholars think that they've compensated for this, but other Christian scholars don't believe that the original text is knowable.

This is a problem for those Christian sects who believe that the Bible is inerrant. It is even a problem for liberal denominations – how can you give instructions for salvation if you can't vouch for the validity of those instructions? It's like one of those ridiculously translated instruction books for a Chinese product bought off of Ebay, only worse since the text was copied during a game of “Telephone”.

Christians disagree about what different passages mean. Others disagree about the validity of different passages. When non-Christians point out the conflict between Christian interpretations, they are attacked by believers on all sides.

When you guys get your stories straight, get back to me, okay?

12 comments:

lor said...

It's not a matter our not having our stories straight as much as it is degree of varying interpretations, depending on, among other things, the denomination involved.

Do scientists agree on every aspect of every research project they may undertake? Do different studies not reach results, depending on the variables - and yes - the bias of the researchers?

I'm not a theologian or a scientist, but I don't think any human being is capable of fully understanding the mind of God and it is folly for us to think otherwise. That doesn't mean I'm not capable of trusting in the plan.

Calladus said...

Sure, science does not agree on a lot of things. They get things wrong. Newton certainly didn't get physics right with F=MA, he was just a little bit off, and Einstein corrected him. But Einstein was fuddled with quantum weirdness, and modern physicists have been correcting him.

The result is, that we used Newton's work to get to the moon with slide rules, we're using Einstein's work to observe distant galaxies through gravity lenses, and now we're playing with quantum entanglement and quantum physics to make things like CD players and experiment with coded transmission systems.

Science starts with a hypothesis, and then using a recursive process of testing and further hypothesis it becomes self-correcting. The sum of successive approximations results in answers that approach reality.

Scientists disagree about their theories - in the scientific world, the greatest joy and acclaim comes if another scientist's theory is shown to be, if not wrong, then at least not wholly correct. Proving that a theory is wrong is not scientific heresy, indeed it is a Nobel prize winning achievement.

But with this disagreement comes consensus, as a theory is tested over and over again it becomes more accepted by the established community. The scientific community comes to accept these well-tested theories, and except for those who are on the borderlands between science and pseudoscience, there is consensus.

This isn't the same with Christianity. There is a written text, supposedly immutable - the true (and some say perfect) word of a god. And yet there ARE interpretations, driven by bias, with the result of no two Christian denominations being able to completely agree on what their central text means. And it is getting worse, with congregations, denominations, and whole church bodies splitting off to form new churches with differing beliefs.

The difference between science and religion is that as scientific theories are tested, they are accepted by more and more of the community. As Christians interpret biblical texts they are separated more and more by religious argument.

MLD said...

I think it is funny when people talk of all of the disagreements in Christianity. In most cases, people can only name the social type difference (who drinks, dances or plays cards.)

All Christians agree on the essentials
1.) The Divinity of Jesus Christ
2.) The Trinity – the existence of a Triune God
3.) The Virgin birth
4.) Salvation by grace
5.) The resurrection of Jesus Christ

All the above have to be believed to be a Christian.

Along with that, everyone agrees that baptism and communion are sacraments of the church. Now, we may disagree how to do them, but the Bible isn’t clear that there is a right way or a wrong way. The Bible says to repent and be baptized and you will be saved. It doesn’t say how (sprinkle, pour or dunk) – so people divide over it even though the call is just to get wet! As to communion the scriptures don’t say how often, they just say “as often as you do this” – so again people divide over it even though the call is to just do it when you get together. So, we may be bad sports because we want our way, but Christians are the first to say that everything we do comes out of our sinful nature and state.

Most differences between denominations are social and cultural they have nothing to do with the Bible. If our government is different from that of France or Great Britain, does that somehow invalidate Democracy?

Does anyone care to look at the US Constitution? It’s only about 17 pages – why can’t just Americans agree as to what it says and means? Libraries are full of contrary law opinions and wars have been fought over it. Is the constitution invalid?

Do all Atheists think alike? (sadly, they are starting to!)

Calladus said...

No mention of Jesus dying for our sins? Hm.

MLD said...

Calladus,
Thanks for the boost, even I can't remember all of the things Christians agree on.
Well, that's just one more item on the list that shows that Christians are in harmony more than the secular crowd.ruigdj

Do you have a list of things that all atheist must agree on?

(please know that I write these in good will)

MLD said...

Just to lighten things up a little.

Did you hear about the scientists who discovered the secret to creating human life? They were so proud of themselves that they went to show God. They summon God and announce “God, I think that we are in a position that we don’t need you any longer. We have found the secret to creating human life!” God was amazed and said, “Show me, I have to see this.”

So the scientist stooped down and scooped up a handful of dirt. God stopped him and said, “uh uh! Get your own dirt!”

I love that story.

Calladus said...

And then the scientist said, "Fine, if you want to play that way, I'll just trigger a quantum event to open another zero-sum bubble universe. Let there be light!"

And God said, "Wait, what?"

MLD said...

that's my point and the point that the Bible makes.
Mankind wants to be God - at all costs to their soul. (the serpents challenge to Eve in the garden.

On your other thread about Richard Dawkins, he may not believe in the God of other religions, but he is a very "religious" man. Who is his God? Richard Dawkins - and how he loves and honors his God.

Have a great evening - it's been fun!

MLD

Calladus said...

And this is the nutshell problem with Christianity. Scientific exploration of our universe is systematically opposed and denied with the religious equivalent of "Here there be Dragons".

Blood transfusions, heart transplants, space exploration, moral philosophy... the list goes on and on. These have all been forbidden, or at least frowned upon as being God's domain.

"If God had meant me to fly, he would have given me wings!" This statement, or others like it, are so common that they've become clichés and jokes.

Mankind doesn't want to be God, Humankind want to understand the world, the universe, that we live in. We're curious creatures. We investigate everything. And we love to investigate best that which is held to be "off-limits".

If there is a God, he didn't give us wings, but he did give us a brain. And with that, we can make wings. We can unravel DNA. Perhaps we will learn how to make a universe.

Mau de Katt said...

All Christians agree on the essentials
1.) The Divinity of Jesus Christ
2.) The Trinity – the existence of a Triune God
3.) The Virgin birth
4.) Salvation by grace
5.) The resurrection of Jesus Christ

All the above have to be believed to be a Christian.



Nope, sorry... there are Christians who don't believe in one or more of those items there. There are Christians of the fundamentalist, conservative, or "Orthodox" variations who say that you have to believe all those things, but there are many other denominations and people who don't believe in one or more of those "essentials" who still call themselves Christians.

Who is the final arbiter of what is a "True Christian," and why?

MLD said...

Mau de Katt,
The bible is the final arbiter. Let's put you to the test. (since I asked calladus twice but he won't respond).

Is there anything that Atheists together must believe to call themselves an Atheist?

See, just because people want to call themselves Christians, does not mean that they are.

Are Jews for Jesus jewish? Heck no!

Can I be an atheist for Jesus. Come on buddy, get with it.

So, my list stands (with the addition of the atonement that calladus reminded me of.) Reject anyone of those and you cannot call yourself a Christian.

Alyx said...

Is there anything that Atheists together must believe to call themselves an Atheist?

Yes. Atheists lack belief in the existence of a god or gods.

"a-" = without

"theist" = belief in the existence of a god or gods

ergo "athiest" = without belief in the existence of a god or gods

It's not an active denial of the existence of a god or gods (although there are certainly atheists who do so), it is merely the lack of that belief, the same way that "asexual" is not a denial of sex or functional sexual organs but a lacking of sex or functional sex organs, or the way "achromatic" is not an active denial of color, but a lack of color.

See? Easy.