This is a response to James, who has made his true position unequivocally known in the last thread. That James rejects Paul the Apostle’s epistles he has certainly made clear to us here at unreformingtheology.com. However, recently revealed is that James rejects Christianity as a whole. He does this because, I submit, he concedes that reformation protestantism interprets the faith correctly. As such, he denies Christ categorically.
And that is fine. No one gets criticized by me for engaging their brains and drawing their own conclusions. James raises valuable questions. James correctly identifies the weaknesses of the Christian argument in light of its thousand year whoring-out of itself to Greek mysticism. James rejects the Calvinist mystics without a blush of shame; without the slightest concession of their vile premises. That we should all do this, is my dream.
But here is my brain. Here is my conclusion regarding the rejection of Christ:
James’s position is a mistake of reason. A return to Judaism as THE source of ultimate moral restoration is impossible. Why? Well, put simply, the Apostle Paul is right. NO law…no external, abstract standard of good and evil can do anything other than enslave man to sin. Because ANY good man does will ultimately and only be defined by the SIN which declares good, good. And so again, Paul is right. You cannot do good without sin being “right there with you”. Right there with you, DEFINING your good for you.
There cannot ultimately be salvation in that idea.
This is the inevitable truth of any morality OUTSIDE of man’s physical, individual self. And this is precisely what Jewish law does…and this is why Christ came. Either Christ comes, or the Law is an endless cycle of sin and “atonement”, going nowhere, leading only to the conclusion that moral value is constantly beyond man’s reach. Man is the horse, the Law is the carrot. Man moves in the right direction, but he never actually gets anywhere.
I know a lot of us don’t want to acknowledge this…that Paul the Apostle is right. This is understandable…our reticence to embrace Pauline theology is certainly due to the way he has been utterly bastardized and his theology dragged through the filth of Platonism by countless false teachers. But understand this…this is by design. This is Satanic. Jettisoning Paul is THE single most dangerous thing any of us can do aside from denying Christ. Paul, for all his faults and his dearth of talent in the art of clear communication, is the loudest voice in the entire canon of scripture, apocrypha or not, translation–no matter; yes, the loudest voice concerning the restoration of MAN as the source of his own moral worth. Yes, even more so than Moses. I might even add, more so than Christ, Himself.
You reject Paul, you reject yourself. You reject SELF, and you reject value (morality), knowledge, love, and ultimately God, by whom SELF can exist.
This is my response to James, in post form:
(NOTE: After this, I will move on to the posts I have in mind to print. And to the focus of this blog: NOT surrendering my faith to the physical and moral and intellectual horrors of Calvinism. This subject (Christ versus the Jews) can quickly consume a conversation. I won’t let that happen to me. Nevertheless, I am compelled to answer. Because, as for me…no, they (the neo-Reformed hordes) will not get away with their rational theft…the murder of the SELF. Their hypocrisy will not be an excuse for denying the only source of moral value. ME. And YOU. And PEOPLE. )
I would love to go through the looking glass with you on this topic, because I think much can be said. Alas…I am pressed to make a decision, and I need to get on with the posts I have lined up to write for the blog.
I think you raise some excellent points in your criticisms of Christianity. I think you illuminate many problems the theology has…ironically (or maybe there is a better word), the arguments you use to attempt to dismantle the legitimacy of Christianity are some of the exact same ones I use to dismantle the legitimacy of Calvinism and basically Protestantism as a whole. However, in the end, this becomes clear to me: you have accepted that the Calvinists actually DO interpret Christianity correctly, and therefore, you reject Christianity as nothing more than the fatalistic determinism the Calvinists preach and teach.
You need to do better than this. Rejection of Christianity is the easy way out. It is merely another way of ceding the Calvinist interpretive premises. That is running away from them. They don’t care if you leave the faith. All the more room for them. One less thinker they have to deal with. In the end, you argue from not from reason but only from retreat. If you choose not to accept Christ, I have no problem with that. But if you do it because you accept their interpretation of the faith, then, as far as I am concerned, THAT is where our disagreement lay. Let’s put away Christ versus the Jews and debate what is relevant to the whole damn argument: your reformed assumptions.
You are going to argue that Judaism without Christ is more rational??? Really…that’s your play? To claim that TRUTH is found APART from man in an abstraction called the Law? Obeying God? Easy as that? According to what standard? Exactly…it’s not man, it’s something else. It’s outside of man. Well, if TRUTH is outside of man, as it is in Judaism (really? we are going to find peace in a religion that is as awash in bloodshed as any in the history of the world…I mean, have you READ the OT? It is wiping out whole cultures and societies of human beings in service to TRUTH; which I get why from the historical context, but THIS is THE answer to PEACE?)…if truth is outside of man then you’ve got nothing with which to dismantle the Calvinist despots. You concede the SAME idea: obey your priests, for real truth is beyond your understanding anyway. YOU don’t get to say what is true and what is not because TRUTH is outside of you.
This is a mistake, in my opinion. If you truly understood the OT the way you say you do, I do not believe you can actually read the NT in its and Jewish historical context and come away withe the conclusions you do. You are doing nothing more than conceding the Calvinist interpretive assumptions and then rejecting the whole of the Christian message as an evil farce. However, this only becomes possible if you conveniently jettison the first two or three hundred years of church history before Augustine, up until which point, Christ was understood much differently than He is today…thanks to the systematizing of Augustine’s gnostic message by Luther and Calvin, which is the bedrock for ALL of Christianity to this day.
The conclusions you draw about Christianity are the exact same ones I would draw about Judaism apart from Christ: that it is ultimately a dualistic paradigm, which perpetually places man OUTSIDE moral value, and thus makes the reconciliation of man with GOOD impossible. Unless man becomes THE standard of moral value by a physical reconciliation with with “himself-as-good” (Christ), then man can never claim any goodness at all, and thus is perpetually exclusive to God’s standard of moral perfection. By pursuing any abstraction as TRUTH, man places truth always outside of himself. This must result in death, oppression, and destruction for man…for the only “good” man can do then, is to die. To not exist. And you can only mitigate this with animal sacrifices for so long before it becomes clear that the whole ceremony must either lead to Christ (Messiah) or lead nowhere. It is precisely the perpetuation of this dualistic external Good and Evil construct which those rejecting Christ want to perpetuate. And yes, I would include Judaism apart from the culmination of God’s TRUTH in Christ. Christ is the only way man becomes THE singular source of value in the universe. Any other way places man outside his own value. We can thank Adam for that.
This is not a rejection of Judaism. Of course not…for without the Law, Christ could not be understood. But Judaism without Christ is incomplete. It is the “form”, but it lacks realization because without Christ, man cannot BE the Law, He can only DO it. And doing (works) the law cannot restore moral value, it can only express what it is supposed to look like. The law looks like man is suppose to look, but only man is man.
You greatly misunderstand Paul, by the way. I get why he is easily misunderstood. But this does not change the fact that you interpret him falsely. And it is painfully obvious you do this in rank service to an ideology. You form an idea, then twist Paul to fit that idea. This is easily seen. And easily done. The fault is both his and yours.
All truth proceeds from man, and because of this, the Law cannot save, because the Law is not actual, only MAN is actual. Truth proceeds from man…it is not the other way around. A rejection of Christ in favor of ANY law is an exchange of man for an illusion…an idea. An abstraction. The law is an abstract standard.
Jesus Christ was a human being. THIS is the difference which makes man MORAL versus enslaving man to SIN. Because by the law, any GOOD is ONLY defined by the SIN by which it is known. But with MAN, there is no SIN by which good can be known. There is only man, and he is GOOD.
This is a fact that cannot be circumvented in the end, which is why Christianity will never actually find itself extinguished. The TRUTH of man as VALUE is as plain as your face in the mirror. Sure, we constantly reject this, but unless man is utterly wiped out, all truth must return to man’s physical self. And man as MORAL TRUTH is proclaimed by one faith and one faith alone: Christ.
40 thoughts on “Man as the Singularity of MORAL VALUE: A defense of the only faith which proclaims this…Christ”
“James correctly identifies the weaknesses of the Christian argument in light of its thousand year whoring-out of itself to Greek mysticism. James rejects the Calvinist mystics without a blush of shame; without the slightest concession of their vile premises. That we should all do this, is my dream.”
I stopped reading here to chime in on something. James is very well read and one thing he has done for me is help me better understand the God of Abraham from a Jewish perspective. And I totally agree with him about the blasphemy of mystics/Calvinism who turn God into Allah.
The irony is that over the last 10 years, I have had several people mention the unJewishness of the Protestant Jesus. One of them in a more roundabout way was John Immel in reading his blog. Another was a professor of theology I won’t name for his sake and even NT Wright stresses the “historical Jesus” that is often missing in our understanding. There are others but it has been one of those things nagging at me for a long time. There has also been a horrible misunderstanding of the law.
So James had made me think. And for that, I am grateful. We have to get out of our evangelical ghetto and take on the hard stuff.
“Either Christ comes, or the Law is an endless cycle of sin and “atonement”, going nowhere, leading only to the conclusion that moral value is constantly beyond man’s reach. Man is the horse, the Law is the carrot. Man moves in the right direction, but he never actually gets anywhere.”
Argo, this was the most beautiful post I have read here.
Wow. Thank you.
You won’t understand where I’m coming from without having first read the next to last paragraph of chapter 1 from Kaufmann Kohler’s Jewish Theology: Systematically and Historically Considered:
Hence the concern with bringing the Israelites out of Egypt rather than leaving them there in slavery and just saving their souls.
The problem is that Christianity is the very Pharisaism that Christianity putatively hates and that Jesus supposedly fought against. In a certain sense, there is less Pharisaism in Judaism itself than in Christianity, by which I mean less emphasis on the next life. Judaism is very much focused on this life, whereas Christianity is entirely focused on the next life to the extent that this one doesn’t matter at all; only jumping through the Pharisee god’s hoops that are necessary for spiritual salvation from an inherited damnation to get to the good afterlife matter in Christianity.
After all, if you read Josephus you see that the Pharisees were determinists and that the Sadducees were strong believers in freewill. This was as much a point of contention between them as the difference in view on the afterlife. Christianity is entirely inherited from the Pharisees. Judaism (despite it being said even by Jewish rabbis that the Sadducees died out and only the Pharisees survived) is obviously largely a continuation of the Sadducees. Otherwise, they would focus their whole existence on escaping hell and getting to heaven and would not put so much value on this life. It is a compromise between Pharisaism and Sadduceism in which the resurrection and afterlife are acknowledged but acknowledged only to be subsequently de-emphasized.
The problem with Christianity is its inheritance from Phariseeism without any Saducean tempering. I would be perfectly OK with a Sadducean Christianity. But the Paulinist crazies would never allow it. Neither would the moderates. “Jesus talked more about hell than anyone.” So, then, its not really salvageable.
In a way, you yourself are obviously headed towards some attempt to Sadduceanize Christianity, for how can there be any meaning to our lives if its all about the afterlife? If that is the case, then there is no value in man at all. For man is not just some spiritual soul but the whole thing, the body soul spirit together as one makes the man — separate them, and you only have ingredients, no longer a man.
“Because ANY good man does will ultimately and only be defined by the SIN which declares good, good. And so again, Paul is right. You cannot do good without sin being “right there with you”. Right there with you, DEFINING your good for you.
I guess you mean that since rules about what is sin define what is good by way of contrast, therefore when you do good in concrete terms the concept of sin is always there in abstract terms in your head demonstrating that the good is good because it is not sin. That’s logical. I don’t see why that would be a problem, however, and I certainly don’t think that’s what Paul meant when he said in Rom 7:21 “I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me.” He means it much more literally.
To Paul, sin is some kind of entity literally dwelling in his body, which makes him declare in Romans 7:14 (ESV) “So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.” Personally responsibility is gone, because Paul didn’t boink his neighbor’s wife; it was the sin that dwells in Paul that did it.
We do need a concept of what evil is to understand what good is, and this is what the Law gives us: a moral philosophy. It does this even by its failings, like the genocides. If we had no text in which genocides occur, we wouldn’t even think to condemn them.
In any case, there is an unmeetable objection regarding any prospect of me converting to Judaism. I am far too Saducean even for them. The concept of taking a fixed position on the afterlife becomes more and more distasteful to me as the days go by. Because all such a thing does is lead to tyranny and vitriol. Ever increasingly I see that religion must deal with what you call the actual. And, as you say, all that is actual is objects. And those are in the here and now.
“You reject Paul, you reject yourself. You reject SELF, and you reject value (morality), knowledge, love, and ultimately God, by whom SELF can exist.”
This sounds rather like Paul’s claim in Romans 9 that anyone who rejects his predestination scheme is talking back to God!
My answer to this charge is the Daughters of Zelophehad.
God gave a law concerning inheritance. The law was already given. These women objected, and God changed the Law to factor in their concerns.
What you are arguing is that the Law is so rigid that it denies human worth. If that were the case, God would not have been willing to change the Law to meet the objections of the Daughters of Zelophehad. We see, then, much MORE flexibility in the Law than in Pauline theology, and flexibility that is SPECIFICALLY aimed at recognizing human value.
Whereas Paul responds to one whose concern is human value (the interlocutor in Romans 9 who objects to Paul’s views on predestination) in the most dismissive terms possible, God actually is willing to change the very Law itself to meet the objections of human beings who argue that the Law as originally given did not recognize their value.
The fun thing for me in all of this is reveling in the fact that the metaphysical and epistemological ball is never in my court. The onus is never on me to prove the axiom of human existence–humanity itself-as that by which everything derives its truth, even God.
The onus is always on the other person to explain in a way that doesn’t ultimately succumb to contradictions of reason just how any law or concept, idea or standard can be that which defines mans truth FOR him. How any standard which does not exist as truth (or exist at all) unless man exists FIRST in order that it can be known as truth. All truth and knowledge flows from man, never to him from an outside source… there is no way to argue any other epistemology rationally. The SELF of man is the first cause of ANY idea. Because as soon as you acknowledge any idea as true, regardless of what the idea is, you concede my argument.
Christ is the only faith which proclaims this. You may interpret it differently, but I am merely taking the Law to its only rational conclusion.
“In a way, you yourself are obviously headed towards some attempt to Sadduceanize Christianity, for how can there be any meaning to our lives if its all about the afterlife”
I can certainly understand how it comes off that way but I do believe many get this wrong and it goes back to what Argo says about Christ and our value as humans. We ARE to live in that truth now. And Judaism has the same problem in that respect because there is evil in the world.
“To Paul, sin is some kind of entity literally dwelling in his body, which makes him declare in Romans 7:14 (ESV) “So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.” Personally responsibility is gone, because Paul didn’t boink his neighbor’s wife; it was the sin that dwells in Paul that did it.”
I really think many get this wrong because they stop reading! Paul pretty much explains this in Romans 8 and on. In his wordy and verbose way, I should say. (I wish he wrote like James. :o)
. And yes, there are metaphorical communications that are taken way too literally. I recall someone explaining once that sin is like a tick that attaches itself to us as we grow up and understand more about good/evil. (Tree of the KNOWLEDGE of good and evil). but here, Paul is justapoxing sin and the law in an explanation to both Gentiles and Jews who are believers. What a project!
Romans is one of those books that should never be proof texted….ever. Without the historical context and knowing that he is building a grand case, it is fruitless to quote from it. Can you imagine trying to explain the law to new Christians in Rome and what makes a Jew a Christian and what makes a Gentile a Christian? Especially when the Jews thought they had the baseline for it?
Romans is one of those books that taught me how evil proof texting really is!
“My answer to this charge is the Daughters of Zelophehad.
God gave a law concerning inheritance. The law was already given. These women objected, and God changed the Law to factor in their concerns.
In the dark days I was trying to figure out God’s relationship to His daughters in the OT after being assaulted by Patriarchy all over the place, you have no idea how much that story meant to me along with some others.
Two exceptional comments. Your first was dead on right.
James, If we are going to proof text snippets let’s look at his from a culminating argument Paul is making.
With your Romans 7 in mind, look at this in Romans 9 and ask where it fits in with Romans 7:
“30 What then shall we say? That the Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have obtained it, a righteousness that is by faith; 31 but the people of Israel, who pursued the law as the way of righteousness, have not attained their goal. 32 Why not? Because they pursued it not by faith but as if it were by works. They stumbled over the stumbling stone. 33 As it is written:
“See, I lay in Zion a stone that causes people to stumble
and a rock that makes them fall,
and the one who believes in him will never be put to shame.”[m]
Look at Romans 10:
“Brothers and sisters, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved. 2 For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge. 3 Since they did not know the righteousness of God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. 4 Christ is the culmination of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.”
I know you know all of this. It is just that I look at it from a totally different perspective including the historical context and the audience.
Have you noticed how Calvinists rarely quote from chp 10, 11 and 12 of Romans? Paul is very confusing and those chapters do not help their case. In one instance the translation makes it sound like determinism and the next paragraph makes it sound like free will. This is done over and over.
But the BIG difference is obviously some Gentiles were very concerned about what some Jewish Christians might have been telling them about salvation and Paul is trying to explain it all. And there is also a hint of Jewish persecution in there, too, at the end of chpter 11. (When looking at it from strictly a Roman perspective who had a problem with both “sects”)
I will agree that you do correctly identify a key issue in reformed theology, and that is the idea that salvation is always AWAY from man…that ultimate freedom and peace is found in the idea of man not actually being himself (herself) here and now, which is really the exact same self we will be in the “afterlife”.
They use the idea of heaven the same way they use every doctrine: always look beyond yourself for GOOD. The afterlife is just another bastardization of this singular premise. Take the pain now. Eat our shit now. Your blessing will be revealed later…though, by their own doctrine YOU can’t really be blessed. It must be in spite of you. Because you? Suck all.
Much of Calvinism is merely the conversion of Christianity to Gnosticism. It’s easy to see they do this. Harder to see exactly when and where, because by nature they are capricious and transient in their defense of their “absolute truth”. In this you also judge them correctly. But you misunderstand their message for Christ. That is your mistake, not theirs.
I find that Jesus speaks much of the value of life, whether here or there.
Man’s life NOW, is not a means to an end, it is THE end. That is the message of the Law, made flesh (made human) in Christ.
Argo, It seems tradition has marketed Christianity as an excuse to sin. Well, for some anyway…or even redefined sin. But the truth is that separation from God was serious business and Jesus Christ reconciled that. We CAN live as just, moral beings with value NOW.
If we look at history one of the biggest hindrances to that was the church and it’s requisite philosopher kings twisting truths and defining Christianity for us.
I have often mused at how much sooner discoveries would have been made in science, etc, if not for the greed and jealousy of the church leaders throughout history hindering the average man/woman from using their valuable brains on earth.
“Much of Calvinism is merely the conversion of Christianity to Gnosticism. ”
I have seen it on so many blog threads from Calvinist/YRR….they desperately want to separate US from ourselves. They will tell me that our “hearts are wicked and cannot be trusted”. I hear this ALL THE TIME.
the question is why they take a proof text from the OT for a specific people at a specific time and apply it as truth for those who are born again today?
I tell them that Jesus Christ defeated the enemy and to stop with the wicked heart so we can trust them. :o)
That is just one example of their marketing Gnosticism:
Do not trust yourself because your heart is perpetually wicked (without you doing one single wicked thing to make us think so, btw, but it is just as wicked as that child molester).
We are all wicked but I, your leader, am less wicked because I say my heart is wicked. The more I say I am wicked, the more humble I am which means I am a real Christian. You are more wicked because you won’t admit your heart is wicked. So, unless you have a perpetually wicked heart you are not a real Christian.
Argo, does that sound familiar?
It is a religion of death that spreads deadness and the banality of evil wherever it goes.
Jesus Christ is about LIFE. Newness of Life. Value. We are friends of God.
Concerning Romans 9-11. The Calvinists are of course wrong to think that in Romans 9 Paul is talking about an individual predestination. He is really talking about a broad ethnic predestination. He is trying to preserve his faith in his version of Christianity in face of overwhelming rejection of his message by his own countrymen. He is arguing from a position of weakness and doubt. He would have though that if anyone would accept his message which is stitched together from OT prooftexts that it would have been the Jews. But the Jews having more contextual knowledge of the OT instantly see what a patchwork his message is and reject it. In order to prevent himself from seeing the truth that his message is flawed, he invents this notion that the Jews have been predestined to reject the message and the Pagan have been predestined to accept it. Its easier to explain it that way than to admit that he is twisting the OT and that those who have read it all their lives will instantly spot it, while Pagans who are not familiar with it will buy all his twisting as the truth instantly due to unfamiliarity. So he appeals to predestination as a face-saver for his own comfort, nothing more.
By the way, this particular quote of Paul’s shows how very wrong headed his thinking is:
Were the philosophers not pursuing righteousness? Were the Gentiles who attached themselves to the Synagogues as God-fearers not pursuing righteousness? I dare say that in both cases they found righteousness long before Paul got to them, and he took it away from them. And also that any Jews who were actually pursuing righteousness did find it. And I dare use an axiom of Jesus’ to prove it: “Knock and it shall be opened, seek and ye shall find.” And “blessed are those that hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled.” Those among both Gentiles and Jews who sought righteousness did find it, and long before Paul came along.
“Man’s life NOW, is not a means to an end, it is THE end. That is the message of the Law, made flesh (made human) in Christ.” (Argo)
My question would be, where do you see this message in Christ exactly?
“The fun thing for me in all of this is reveling in the fact that the metaphysical and epistemological ball is never in my court. The onus is never on me to prove the axiom of human existence–humanity itself-as that by which everything derives its truth, even God.” (Argo)
I’ve recently begun reading a book called The Philosophy of Hebrew Scripture by Yoram Hazony, and I’m on page 97 or 98. He says there in a footnote 120:
He argues that both law and covenant are actually metaphors in Scripture, trying to describe what God wants from us, and that torah itself is a third metaphor. Law and covenant are metaphors from the world of politics; torah from the home. If scripture is viewed as law its because we are by way of metaphor viewing God as a king concerned with the order of his realm. If we view it as covenant its because we are viewing God as a King who makes an alliance with weaker kings, an alliance which implies an admission that he is not all powerful afterall and is in need of our help to perfect the world. And torah he says is a metaphor derived from the home, since it actually means “teaching” (as in Proverbs 1:8 “forget not the law [teaching] of thy mother.”) and it was the father who did the teaching in ancient Israel, so reading scripture as torah implies seeing God as our Father, and a Father does very often request his children to help him accomplish something he cannot accomplish all on his own.
He further argues that the reason God loves figures such a Abraham and Moses so much is that they argued with him and helped him fine-tune his moral positions. All of this would be heretical in Christianity, so its a good thing for Yoram that he’s a Jew. When his book came out in 2012 it actually got endorsed by the then chief rabbi of Britain. If he had been a Christian, there would have been a flurry of books by Piper and friends decrying him as a heretic.
Anyway, I say all of that to say that it seems to me that Jews are more likely to agree with your assertion that there is an axiom that “humanity itself” is “that by which everything derives its truth, even God.” Even the most simplistic reading of the OT (to say nothing of a philosophical reading) will support that conclusion better than any kind of reading of the NT. In the NT, humans frankly don’t matter, not after the cross. Up to the cross, maybe humans matter in the NT, but that’s only because the “Old Covenant” which was so human centric is still in force up till then in Christian theology. But after the cross, you have no value any longer in Christian theology, only the blood of the godman does. Furthermore, the whole project for which God made covenants to begin with in the OT (for he obviously made more than one) was to make this world a better place, not to “bring the Messiah into the world” as Christians have simplified it. Covenant in the NT theology loses its entire meaning, and covenant becomes just another tool of the determinist god for damning you to hell all the more.
Oh yes…this rises to the level of a ritual chant in SGM.
Even today in church “oh Lord, we know that we fall so short; we know we are so wicked…”. I’m like, speak for yourself. Don’t lump me in with your supposed moral failings. My conscience is clear.
Oh…but that’s pride. Of COURSE you fall short. The standard is GOD after all.
The standard is man, though, not God. If God was the standard, man could not exist.
“The standard is man, though, not God. If God was the standard, man could not exist.”
If the standard were God himself, sex would be outlawed completely like in Marcionism, for God is a sexless being, right? The fact that sex is allowed, although only in the context of marriage, demonstrates that the standard is not that we be as “perfect” as God, but the standard God has for us does condescend to our weakness. Is that so hard to figure out?
And here, contrast the OT with Jesus for one moment:
OT: Be ye holy for I am holy.
NT: Be ye perfect as your father in heaven is perfect.
WHOA!!! And you said Jesus saves us from this notion that we gotta be perfect. Nope. He’s the one that initiated it, according to the text of the NT. The OT only requires us to be holy, and Jesus wants us to be perfect. Hmmmmm. But is God himself event perfect? To quote you, “I mean, have you READ the OT?” God doesn’t come off so perfect when you do. From a Christian perspective, of course, “I will not love God unless he is perfect, but I will insist that he love me despite my imperfections.” Shouldn’t a relationship built on love acknowledge imperfection on both sides and survive that? That’s why so many marriages fail, I guess, because they expect the other person to be perfect.
He further argues that the reason God loves figures such a Abraham and Moses so much is that they argued with him and helped him fine-tune his moral positions..”
Not so sure about fine tuning God’s moral position but I do agree God loved them for arguing with Him. By doing so Abraham saved Lot, and so on.
To me this follows along with God wanting us to be His people here and now, fighting for justice and loving others. Interacting with Him!
So what do you do with what Judaism had become in the first Century?
“In the NT, humans frankly don’t matter, not after the cross. Up to the cross, maybe humans matter in the NT, but that’s only because the “Old Covenant” which was so human centric is still in force up till then in Christian theology. But after the cross, you have no value any longer in Christian theology, only the blood of the godman does. ”
That view works if you do not see Jesus Christ as God in the Flesh. How can we say there is no value in humans in Christianity when God made Himself so lowly to prove the value of all?
“The OT only requires us to be holy, and Jesus wants us to be perfect.”
It makes sense to me because Jesus was God in the Flesh.
Argo, Do you think Jesus Christ proved that the standard is man?
Yes, and wouldn’t the traditional Jewish response be “But YOU can’t be perfect. Your only human. Only God is perfect, which is why we must constantly offer up animals for sin. Isn’t that also the Calvinist supposition? This is why Calvinists continue in the tradition of the Jewish caste system (even though they screw it up royally). They are devoted much more to the position of Moses as “man of God” than the position of the SERVANT King, Jesus.
My next post will discuss the use of communion as the reformed “sin offering”.
“So what do you do with what Judaism had become in the first Century?”
How can I possibly know what Judaism had become in the first century? There are no unbiased sources to show me.
This is where arises the idea of reading the Law as if it requires perfection. Jesus say if you look at a woman to lust after her you’ve committed adultery in your heart already — you’re already guilty, although you haven’t actually done the deed. This is imported back into the Law itself to make the Law odious. Of course, in reality, the Law doesn’t care what you think. If I sit around lusting after, I don’t know, lets say, Heidi Klum, all day long every day, the Law honestly doesn’t care. As long as I don’t actually commit adultery with her, the Law doesn’t condemn me. But Jesus does. But what does Christianity do? It takes Jesus’ perfectionist view and imports it back to the Law to make the Law an odious abomination to us. Then it presents Jesus (the very originator of the perfectionism) to us as the antidote to this perfectionism. And what I am calling perfectionism (that’s what it really is) they then call LEGALISM, again, to blame it on the Law, when the Law has nothing to do with it at all.
“It makes sense to me because Jesus was God in the Flesh.”
And as such, Jesus would have to have gone to hell. The flesh would lust after a woman. Sorry to burst your bubble, but its not possible for Jesus to have been a human male and never lusted after a woman, even a married woman. If Jesus is himself right that “if you look at a woman to lust after her you’ve committed adultery in your heart already” and if he is right that perfection is God’s standard, then he went to hell and cannot save anyone. Jesus’ own salvation depends on his doctrine having been wrong. And the idea that his god-side somehow overrode his man-side to prevent him from having the normal human emotion of lust or normal physical reaction to seeing a hot woman, well that’s pure nonsense. And if it true that the god-side simply overrode his humanity, then he isn’t worth much as a “perfect human sacrifice” because he wasn’t really human. We see, then, the Law is more merciful than Jesus’ himself was, since the Law does not condemn what is simply inescapable human nature. The Law only condemns wrong deeds, not the temptations in our heads that lead to them. If you overcome the temptation and don’t do the deed, you are righteous. But Jesus would have the thought itself equal to the deed, and thus he rejects mercy. (As it is phrased in the gospel, which is probably not how he actually said it, but just how the church twisted it.)
“Yes, and wouldn’t the traditional Jewish response be ‘But YOU can’t be perfect. Your only human. Only God is perfect, which is why we must constantly offer up animals for sin. Isn’t that also the Calvinist supposition?”
Do we need to be perfect? As for the sacrifices, they weren’t offered properly according to how the Law specifies them from Judges through to the time of Hezekiah and yet God dealt on friendly terms with all those people. Passover wasn’t even observed from the time of the judges up to Hezekiah. So, no, you’re wrong. And remember, Calvinism is all about escaping from hell; Judaism doesn’t obsess over hell.
“Of course, in reality, the Law doesn’t care what you think. If I sit around lusting after, I don’t know, lets say, Heidi Klum, all day long every day, the Law honestly doesn’t care. As long as I don’t actually commit adultery with her, the Law doesn’t condemn me. But Jesus does. But what does Christianity do? It takes Jesus’ perfectionist view and imports it back to the Law to make the Law an odious abomination to us. ”
No, you are right the law would not condemn you. And Christians would not either because they would not know since you do not “act” upon it.
So what is the point of Jesus saying such things? What kind of a life is it to be in that mode….lusting after someone? Made me think of Cain and “sin is crouching at your door”. It is one thing to say “that is a beautiful woman” and quite another to lust after someone.
What if I were very frugal but spent most of my time wishing for things, shopping, etc for things I know I should not buy so I don’t. So where is my heart in that scenario?
Frankly, would you want to be married to someone who lusts after others even though does not act upon it?
‘How can I possibly know what Judaism had become in the first century? There are no unbiased sources to show me.’
I walked right into that one! :o)
A. Jesus was not married, so no, He could not commit ADULTERY by looking lustfully at a woman (unless she was married…and your evidence for this is???)
B. The Law would have killed the adulteress in the New Testament. Jesus is the One who vouched for the value of her LIFE.
I’ve always taken these words in the rational sense (which is not the literal sense) as being that you should check your thoughts because they will lead to sin. But the dominant interpretation since Augustine has been to take it literally, that the thought is as bad as the deed, that if you think it, you are as guilty as if you had actually done it. That is how it is worded “he who looks at a woman to lust after her has ALREADY committed adultery in his heart.” Taken literally, it sounds like its saying that the thought is equal in guilt to the deed, so why not just go ahead and do the deed too? Which is exactly what the dominant interpretation in Christianity is today!
Very wrong! Christians always jump to this to condemn people they don’t know: “Haven’t you ever lusted?” They’ve got you now, and it doesn’t matter who you are, because everyone has lusted at some point.
“Frankly, would you want to be married to someone who lusts after others even though does not act upon it?” That’s not the point and you know it. Of course although the Law doesn’t really have anything to say about it, the rabbis say basically the same thing as Jesus. The difference being its clearer that they don’t mean it in the Christian street preacher sense to condemn everyone “Haven’t you ever lusted?” but in the sense of check your thoughts before they lead to sin.
What Judaism is or has become is irrelevant.
Where is the purity of morality found really…in what philosophy? What philosophy declares man’s self-evident purity of value? Only the Enlightenment.
The problem with the Enlightenment is that SELF cannot be the singular source of epistemology, as John Locke (my cousin :-)) might declare. Only self through the observation of OTHER. And this, I submit, does not happen without God.
So, God enables the interaction of SELF and OTHER, Christ proclaims the existential and metaphysical equality of value of SELF and OTHER.
Judaism doesn’t and won’t and never could do this.
Argo, please show me where Christ taught existentialism. Because I don’t see it. I know that according to Albert Schweitzer, everybody makes up their own historical Jesus, and that’s about that. I’ve seen the Jesus as Zealot model. I’ve seen the Jesus as liberal Democrat model. I’ve seen the Jesus as uber-Republican model. I’ve seen the Jesus as Rabbi model. I’ve seen the Jesus as the original Deist model. But Jesus as existentialist philosopher? This is a new one for me.
I’m not asking for you own existentialist reading of the NT story, but for where Jesus himself teaches existentionalism. Because you don’t seem to be arguing simply that the NT can be interpreted in an existentialist fashion, but rather you are arguing that Jesus himself is essentially the foundation of existentialism. Fine, so where did he teach it then?
“Very wrong! Christians always jump to this to condemn people they don’t know: “Haven’t you ever lusted?” They’ve got you now, and it doesn’t matter who you are, because everyone has lusted at some point.”
Only Christians who buy into that false construct and they, unfortunately, are the majority in the West. That is why these blogs exists.
“The difference being its clearer that they don’t mean it in the Christian street preacher sense to condemn everyone “Haven’t you ever lusted?” but in the sense of check your thoughts before they lead to sin.”
That is exactly what I think Jesus was teaching…..so why? Because the Jewish religious leaders got it wrong arguing over the minute details, etc. The letter over the spirit of the law. Such as bringing the adulteress before Jesus WITHOUT her male partner in sin. (Of course they did not have respect for women, anyway. Ever read about women in the Talmud?)
“Argo, please show me where Christ taught existentialism. Because I don’t see it.”
I will take a stab at this.
He lived it, modeled it. The bleeding woman who touched his robe. The Samaritan woman he had a doctrinal convo with deeper than what Nicodemus had with him, etc, etc. The value of the lowliest humans in society was modeled constantly. Their value was inherent in their existence. This is not something thought of at that time as value was thought of in terms of essence as in position, gender, citizenship, etc.
I will also say that I do not think existentialism could come out of the institutional church as corrupt as it became. But we do see some Christians really pushing the idea such as Kierkagaard (sp/), Dostoyevsky and in some ways, Tolstoy.
But for the most part guys like Nietzsche and Sarte ended up defining it for us, sadly
On the flip side let me say that certain humans, like your former boss, devalue themselves and by doing so, devalue others. God is not the one devaluing them. they have chosen it. They also choose God’s wrath. They are to be avoided or if criminal, imprisoned so they cannot continue to devalue others.
One more thing, God as a human affirms it, too.
Perfect. Thank you.
“(Of course they did not have respect for women, anyway. Ever read about women in the Talmud?)”
Paul and the Talmud are equivalents. Trained at the feet of Gamaliel and all that jazz.
As I see it )and Argo seems to explicitly argue it this way) existentialism is nothing but the secularization of justification by faith alone into justification by existence alone.
So in Argo’s Sept 15th post “Man as the Singularity of Moral Truth: Another defense of Christ” he says at the end “Man’s existence is the key to his perfection, and that is why the temple curtain was torn in two. There is no more sanctification; there is no more justification necessary for man.”
No justification needed. No sanctification needed. That’s what Argo said.
Why? Because the moronic doctrine of Paul “justification by faith alone” and the moronic doctrine of the Calvinists “sanctification by faith alone” has been secularized in existentialism into justification and sanctification by existence alone.
Argue all you want that Jesus would have approved of this, but he certainly not have.
This secularization of the two most moronic doctrines ever contrived is responsibly for the total meltdown of society. In reality, despite teaching it in a putitively theistic way and making assertions about a determinist god, this is precisely what Calvinists actually believe. By buying into this secularization of their whole scheme, Argo is becoming a Calvinist, just a more secular one.
And if its true that you really believe we are both justified and sanctified by mere existence, then you really are nothing but an atheist pretending to theism exactly like the Calvinists.