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Old 08-01-2010, 07:53 PM   #16
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A religion which encourages followers to forgive a rapist makes my blood run cold and illustrates much of what I find wrong with Christianity. It's matched by the notion that the rapist can escape moral culpability by accepting a blood sacrifice.
I don't think you understand Christianity or what it teaches about forgiveness. Even worse, you're pretty sure you do.
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Old 08-01-2010, 08:02 PM   #17
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Could you briefly illustrate where I'm wrong.

I take the Christian position to be that we are born with sin and continue to accrue it by doing actions that go against God but we can have that wiped away if we accept the sacrifice that Jesus made for all of humanity and take him as our saviour.

Perhaps the issue is the nature of sin. I take it as a persons responsibility for the harm they cause. I have trouble with the concept that a vicarious sacrifice can remove that. Most people have done things they strongly regret but I don't think that is properly negated by accepting the intense sacrifice by a better being. Is my idea of sin where I don't "get" the Christian position. Is sin different from responsibility? Could a person be absolved of their sin by becoming a good Christian but still be responsible for their past actions.

And then there is the issue of forgiveness which was alluded to. I don't think that rape survivors should be burdened with the expectation that they should eventually forgive people that harm them. I'm not saying that forgiveness is always wrong or that it cannot bring some people psychological peace but putting forgiveness as the ideal action strikes me as wrong. There are sadists and psychopaths who inflict terrific suffering and the thought that their victims ought to give them forgiveness disgusts me. I don't see forgiveness as a virtue and I think that makes me unchristian.
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Old 08-01-2010, 09:46 PM   #18
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Could you briefly illustrate where I'm wrong.

I take the Christian position to be that we are born with sin and continue to accrue it by doing actions that go against God but we can have that wiped away if we accept the sacrifice that Jesus made for all of humanity and take him as our saviour.

Perhaps the issue is the nature of sin. I take it as a persons responsibility for the harm they cause. I have trouble with the concept that a vicarious sacrifice can remove that. Most people have done things they strongly regret but I don't think that is properly negated by accepting the intense sacrifice by a better being. Is my idea of sin where I don't "get" the Christian position. Is sin different from responsibility? Could a person be absolved of their sin by becoming a good Christian but still be responsible for their past actions.

And then there is the issue of forgiveness which was alluded to. I don't think that rape survivors should be burdened with the expectation that they should eventually forgive people that harm them. I'm not saying that forgiveness is always wrong or that it cannot bring some people psychological peace but putting forgiveness as the ideal action strikes me as wrong. There are sadists and psychopaths who inflict terrific suffering and the thought that their victims ought to give them forgiveness disgusts me. I don't see forgiveness as a virtue and I think that makes me unchristian.
Hmmm. You've edited extensively since I first read your post, so I'll have to revise what I intended to say in my response to address the issues you've elaborated on.

I understand your objection to a sacrifice "magically" absolving one of sin. I'm not going to pretend to understand exactly how Jesus' death on the cross "works." I'm not a theologian and throughout the history of Christianity the great theologians of the faith have never come to a consensus on exactly how that works. For our purposes, I will simply say that something about Christ's sacrifice sets right the broken relationship between God and human beings. I think most Christians would agree to that at least though the how is subject to much debate. Of course, I imagine the finer points of theology would be of little interest to you. You're probably more interested in what Christians take from this belief when it comes to how it applies to how we relate to others. What I would say in that regard is that a Christian does not believe that the absolution offered by Christ somehow absolves the Christian of any responsibility or accountability for their actions. Most Christians will insist that a person should still receive the consequences for their actions even if Jesus has forgiven them.

Your definition of sin is not the same as most Christians, I think. You'll hear a lot of definitions from Christians of various stripes ranging from "breaking God's law" to "seperation from God" to "anything that hurts someone else." At any rate I don't think any Christian is going to argue that forgiveness from God or another person excuses wrong behavior or means that you are no longer responsible for your actions. A person can absolutely be "absolved of their sin by becoming a good Christian but still be responsible for their past actions." I should further add that many Christians assert that it is the acceptance of Jesus death on their behalf that leads to a transformed life--where the old wrong actions are let go of and the person leads a more moral life. They do not believe that accepting Jesus is "get out of jail free" card that allows them to do whatever they like without consequences either here or in eternity.

As for the issue of forgiveness, Christianity is certainly not the only religion that teaches forgiveness, and indeed I'm sure there are many non-religious people who espouse it's value a;sp. Again, if you assume the forgiveness equals excusing wrong behavior, then I don't think you correctly understand what forgiveness is. Correctly understood, forgiveness can not be a burdensome expectation placed on a victim. It'd be interesting to hear you make the argument that holding on for a lifetime to the hurt, bitterness, rage etc is to the victims benefit and will help them heal. Forgiveness is about freedom for ones self, not making the perpertrator feel good.
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Old 08-01-2010, 10:57 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by A_Wanderer View Post
Could you briefly illustrate where I'm wrong.

I take the Christian position to be that we are born with sin and continue to accrue it by doing actions that go against God but we can have that wiped away if we accept the sacrifice that Jesus made for all of humanity and take him as our saviour.

Perhaps the issue is the nature of sin. I take it as a persons responsibility for the harm they cause. I have trouble with the concept that a vicarious sacrifice can remove that. Most people have done things they strongly regret but I don't think that is properly negated by accepting the intense sacrifice by a better being. Is my idea of sin where I don't "get" the Christian position. Is sin different from responsibility? Could a person be absolved of their sin by becoming a good Christian but still be responsible for their past actions.

And then there is the issue of forgiveness which was alluded to. I don't think that rape survivors should be burdened with the expectation that they should eventually forgive people that harm them. I'm not saying that forgiveness is always wrong or that it cannot bring some people psychological peace but putting forgiveness as the ideal action strikes me as wrong. There are sadists and psychopaths who inflict terrific suffering and the thought that their victims ought to give them forgiveness disgusts me. I don't see forgiveness as a virtue and I think that makes me unchristian.
I wrote out a long post, but then found that Ayn Rand said it better:

“The purpose of morality is to teach you, not to suffer and die, but to enjoy yourself and live.” - Ayn Rand

I wouldn't care to define sin, personally. It's a Christian concept that I don't necessarily recognise. If I had to define it, I'd probably say that sin is not fulfilling your potential. Maybe I am one of those psychopath types.

Edit: I do think, though, that for us atheists, there's a job of work to be done in redefining concepts of 'sin' and 'guilt'. For a non-believer, is a sin only a sin just because you might feel bad after committing it, or because there might be legal consequences for some sins? Hopefully not. Hopefully, we can come up with better definitions. If I'm reduced to quoting Ayn Rand in outlining what I define as 'sin', then that's piss poor on my part (I do not subscribe to her philosophy, because, inter alia, it tells me that my mildly intellectually disabled aunt is an inferior human just by virtue of being born disabled, and I'm not having that.)
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Old 08-02-2010, 12:33 PM   #20
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Hmmm. You've edited extensively since I first read your post, so I'll have to revise what I intended to say in my response to address the issues you've elaborated on.

I understand your objection to a sacrifice "magically" absolving one of sin. I'm not going to pretend to understand exactly how Jesus' death on the cross "works." I'm not a theologian and throughout the history of Christianity the great theologians of the faith have never come to a consensus on exactly how that works. For our purposes, I will simply say that something about Christ's sacrifice sets right the broken relationship between God and human beings. I think most Christians would agree to that at least though the how is subject to much debate. Of course, I imagine the finer points of theology would be of little interest to you. You're probably more interested in what Christians take from this belief when it comes to how it applies to how we relate to others. What I would say in that regard is that a Christian does not believe that the absolution offered by Christ somehow absolves the Christian of any responsibility or accountability for their actions. Most Christians will insist that a person should still receive the consequences for their actions even if Jesus has forgiven them.

Your definition of sin is not the same as most Christians, I think. You'll hear a lot of definitions from Christians of various stripes ranging from "breaking God's law" to "seperation from God" to "anything that hurts someone else." At any rate I don't think any Christian is going to argue that forgiveness from God or another person excuses wrong behavior or means that you are no longer responsible for your actions. A person can absolutely be "absolved of their sin by becoming a good Christian but still be responsible for their past actions." I should further add that many Christians assert that it is the acceptance of Jesus death on their behalf that leads to a transformed life--where the old wrong actions are let go of and the person leads a more moral life. They do not believe that accepting Jesus is "get out of jail free" card that allows them to do whatever they like without consequences either here or in eternity.

As for the issue of forgiveness, Christianity is certainly not the only religion that teaches forgiveness, and indeed I'm sure there are many non-religious people who espouse it's value a;sp. Again, if you assume the forgiveness equals excusing wrong behavior, then I don't think you correctly understand what forgiveness is. Correctly understood, forgiveness can not be a burdensome expectation placed on a victim. It'd be interesting to hear you make the argument that holding on for a lifetime to the hurt, bitterness, rage etc is to the victims benefit and will help them heal. Forgiveness is about freedom for ones self, not making the perpertrator feel good.
Very eloquent, Sean, as usual. Thank you.
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Old 08-02-2010, 01:55 PM   #21
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I understand your objection to a sacrifice "magically" absolving one of sin. I'm not going to pretend to understand exactly how Jesus' death on the cross "works." I'm not a theologian and throughout the history of Christianity the great theologians of the faith have never come to a consensus on exactly how that works.


this is an issue that i had and have had -- the redemptive power of ultra-violence. there's a notion of purity-through-pain that i'm deeply uncomfortable with.
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Old 08-02-2010, 02:04 PM   #22
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this is an issue that i had and have had -- the redemptive power of ultra-violence. there's a notion of purity-through-pain that i'm deeply uncomfortable with.
And yet one can't deny the fact that the greatest lessons are usually learned through suffering...
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Old 08-02-2010, 02:12 PM   #23
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And yet one can't deny the fact that the greatest lessons are usually learned through suffering...

that'll teach 'em. be good, or else!

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Old 08-02-2010, 02:36 PM   #24
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that'll teach 'em. be good, or else!
And how ironic that Someone who WAS good chose to get on the cross so no one else would have to.
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Old 08-02-2010, 02:42 PM   #25
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And how ironic that Someone who WAS good chose to get on the cross so no one else would have to.

didn't seem to have much of a choice, did he. nor did all the other people who've suffered the same death -- or far worse -- throughout history.

i'm not asking you to explain it, i'm just saying that there's something really logically askew in the whole blood sacrifice thing.
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Old 08-02-2010, 02:48 PM   #26
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So those Jesus books weren't selling so well, eh?

Took the words right out of my mouth

I am actually a fan of her Vampire books but a few years back when she suddenly went all religious, I was .

I figured it had something to do with her husband dying. Ususally an event like that will push a person towards religion if they have not been inclined to do so in the past.

I'm glad she finally "saw the light" (pun intended)


Her statement about following Christ and not Christianity can be applied to pretty much any organised religion, in my opinion.

does a person really need to go to a specific building and follow arcane rituals in order to feel spiritual, or close to whatever higher power they choose to beleive in?
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Old 08-02-2010, 02:54 PM   #27
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didn't seem to have much of a choice, did he.
"This is why the Father loves me: because I freely lay down my life. And so I am free to take it up again. No one takes it from me. I lay it down of my own free will." ~ Jesus, John 10:17-18

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i'm not asking you to explain it, i'm just saying that there's something really logically askew in the whole blood sacrifice thing.
I don't know. There are plenty of times when I've watched someone go through some kind of incredible trial and thought, "I wish I could go through this so they wouldn't have to."
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Old 08-02-2010, 03:08 PM   #28
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I find myself believing in God (or something) not because of some book or someone preaching down at me from a podium but because I cannot listen to a symphony that Beethoven composed when he was deaf or look at a newborn child and not believe in something greater than myself and my own limited potential.

Beyond that, I see sin and repentance and forgiveness as something between an individual and his maker. I may have shared it before but lyrics to the following song basically summarize how I feel on this matter.
Quote:
You make it sound easy
You say, "You just hold your hand out," don't you
"You just hold your hand out," don't you
That hope never leaves you
'Cos a light shines on that helps you to steer
Makes everything clear

Well it might in your world
But it doesn't in mine
I've been stumbling in the dark for years
And the light just made me blind

You say it lights every pathway
Shows me how to live life
For the rest of my days
For the rest of my days

But I can't put my faith in
Your words and demands
I believe in God alright
It's folk like you I just can't stand

You don't have to try and scare me
To reinforce my faith, sir
'Cos I know that one day
I'll stand before my maker

And if I'm found wanting
When my case is heard
It'll be by the author
Not some interpreter of his words

[...]
I find myself disconnected from the denomination where I currently hold membership because I no longer believe in the concept of Special Revelation or the divine inspiration of scripture (and unfortunately it is the words and actions of other fellow Christians that have led me to feel this way). I don't like a hypocrite so I no longer attend church because I no longer believe what is being preached to be the truth and I feel like there's only so many things I can disagree with before I just don't belong anymore. Right now my church is simply enjoying creation, which I do believe is somehow God-inspired and God-willed.
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Old 08-02-2010, 03:16 PM   #29
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didn't seem to have much of a choice, did he. nor did all the other people who've suffered the same death -- or far worse -- throughout history.

i'm not asking you to explain it, i'm just saying that there's something really logically askew in the whole blood sacrifice thing.
I still struggle with this. Lately, I've been more interested in the actual time Jesus spent on Earth and how it speaks to my life today. More than anything, I've realized how judgemental and divisive I've been. Heaven sounds nice, but I am alive here and now and I think Jesus sets the best example for a life filled with gentleness, love, and compassion.
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Old 08-02-2010, 03:22 PM   #30
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"This is why the Father loves me: because I freely lay down my life. And so I am free to take it up again. No one takes it from me. I lay it down of my own free will." ~ Jesus, John 10:17-18

using scripture to "prove" scripture is really circular, but they would have gotten him anyway. i guess the big thing is not that he volunteered to be crucified but that he didn't ask his dad to shoot electricity down on the Romans so he could escape into the desert.



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I don't know. There are plenty of times when I've watched someone go through some kind of incredible trial and thought, "I wish I could go through this so they wouldn't have to."

and yet, the Romans continued to crucify people. people continue to suffer and die horribly.

the importance of the resurrection i get, but the importance of the suffering on the cross? couldn't he have just been hit by a car and still turned into Zombie Jesus?
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