There is a distinction between being a pacifist and loving your neighbor. It is true that a pacifist may have the best of intentions, but so does the guy who protects the innocent from the homicidal.
If one of your neighbors is trying to kill you and some of your other neighbors, doesn’t the love we have for our other neighbors require us to stop the killer? Yet the Bible also requires us to love the homicidal? Isn’t that a puzzle?
Here is a blog post that suggests to deal with just that sort of problem.
General Qasem Soleimani was once called the “Wizard of Oz of Iranian terror” by the New York Post. He was responsible for the Benghazi embassy attack, and was in bed with Barack Obama. He was the most dreaded and most effective terrorist alive, the head of the Quds Force, an organization that acts as a combination CIA and Green Berets for Iran, and a man who orchestrated a campaign of chaos against the United States around the world. Then we drone-struck him. Was it a good thing? Actress and hopeful foreign policy expert Rose McGowan tweeted her deep analysis which started like this. “Dear #Iran, The USA has disrespected your country, your flag, your people. 52% of us humbly apologize. We want peace with your nation. We are being held hostage by a terrorist regime. We do not know how to escape. Please do not kill us. #Soleimani
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Hi Citizen Tom,
It has been well over a year, perhaps over 2-years or more since I stopped by your blog to peruse or comment. Had some free-time to spend (not much) and so here I am. However, after viewing your last 15-18 blog-posts this was the only one worth reading closely and commenting. I was surprised by that. 😉 Also, I’m not even sure how your comment Moderation is setup so there’s a chance this comment will never get Accepted/Published. Anyway, no biggie… here goes.
When it comes to upstanding, honorable, responsible, accountable foreign diplomacy with real enemies or perceived enemies—like several Near Eastern and Middle Eastern nations—two approaches exist on a long-standing slippery slope:
1) — Deal strictly with one or at the most two generations of peoples/citizens involved in both countries or involved countries. Period. Do not flex from those parameters. IOW, historical events that took place prior to say… 1945 are today irrelevant for all concerned. There is no point trying to incorporate events that happened in 1914, more so in 1099 CE and throughout the 7th-century, but most CERTAINLY incorporating ‘historical events’ prior to the 6th-century CE!!! Doing so is actually ludicrous for modern foreign affairs. Asinine to be more accurate. Or…
2) — Try to always include all of human history—all wrongs committed by all peoples, past and present as far back as possible.
Obviously, #2 has been going on even well before the U.S. was even a passing thought in a few European immigrants minds throughout Native American lands. How well has #2 worked out for the U.S.? HAH!!! Ask all surviving widows and family members of fallen victims and soldiers, on BOTH/ALL SIDES!
Therefore, there’s the biggest problem with Western nations and Near/Middle Eastern nations. Stalemate, a Mexican standoff.
Another major, MAJOR problem involved is the sheer ignorance/arrogance of both diplomatic (and historical) postures. I know for a fact that 90% to 97% of Americans, including many-most of our federal diplomats here and there, do not even know anything about how the Arab/Muslim cultures were treated prior to and after World War I. Very few people even understand the acute details of the Allied Balfour Agreement (1917) or the Sykes-Picot Agreement (1916), yes, both involving the righteous United States, and how both agreements totally exploited and screwed the Arab-Muslim countries. And this time-period is only ONE chapter of so many volumes of time-periods and history between the West and the Near-Middle East.
And today some (Conservative) Americans want to naively keep going back as far as the 1st-century CE or even 500 to 1000 BCE!!!? HAH! No wonder Americans are impossible to negotiate with in world affairs!
Anyway, glad at least this post intrigued me enough Citizen Tom. I’m sure there will be little need for you and I to go round and round about the content of this comment, assuming it isn’t censored. 😉
Regards to you CT.
Good morning! Awful lot of trouble just leave a supposedly sophisticated insult. Thank you for the unintended compliment.
May I suggest you consider why brevity is the soul of wit? When our focus is on our self, navel gazing, we find it difficult to simply state the simple truth.
So what about your commentary on this post? Conservatives have long observed that some people make the mistake of acting as if whatever happened before their birth does not matter. We have the following reasons for valuing history.
1. Previous generations acquired knowledge, understanding, and wisdom our civilization is using today. If we wise, then we realize we have the honor building upon what has been gifted to us.
2. To understand why we value what we value, we need to know something about the people who left us their legacy. Whether we realize it or not, men like Mohammed, Buddha, Socrates, Confucius and so forth left a lasting imprint upon this world, changed what each of us might have been. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, profoundly altered the philosophy of Western Civilization, and His words are now being taught around the world. Without a serious study of history and the historical Jesus, we cannot understand the significance of what we believe.
3. No one sees everything. To extend our point-of-view, we should try to understand what our contemporaries are seeing and what our forefathers saw. We must also try to understand ourselves as God sees us.
What critical factor have you left out? Forgiveness. To have peace with our neighbors, we must forgive the sins of our neighbors against us, and we must ask them to forgive our sins against them. Forgiveness does not come from forgetting. To beg forgiveness from our neighbors, we must know what wrong our neighbors think we have committed against them.
If our neighbors believe our sin is not believing what they believe, then we have several options:
1. Change our own belief
2. Change their belief.
3. Give up the notion that we can achieve reconciliation.
Can we achieve forgiveness and become reconciled with Muslims? That is largely the subject of The Curmudgeon’s post. It is a shame you did not address it, but that is the sort of blindness we have when we ignore the past. That is why The Curmudgeon says: “Only love will conquer hardened hearts.” If we are not willing to give up our beliefs, then we must persuade Muslims to reconsider their own beliefs.
Thanks for your long considered reply CT.
Your List of Reasons for Valuing History is lacking severely. It needs many more than three reasons, but I’m sure you know that already. At least I hope so. 😉 I could add probably 15-20 more reasons, but my gut tells me you’re not interested in thoroughness and preciseness that frequently requires extensive depth and length for modern attention spans. Btw, I say that IN GENERAL, not at you.
I will indulge you a bit on these two statements:
Yeshua bar Yosef the Son of God? The Hellenistic version or the authentic Second Temple Judaism’s within the 1st-century CE fervor of Sectarian Messianism’s?
The two are severely conflicting—hence, the destruction of the Temple in 70 CE, then the extermination of the last remnants of Sectarian Messianic zealots in 73-74 CE at Masada by Rome, i.e. the eventual Hellenistic version of “The Way” Reformation Movement Yeshua bar Yosef founded along side of other rural ascetic movements at the time. See, with respect CT there is GREAT NEED for thoroughness and precision CT about your truncated, amputated “history” or full context. Modern Christology (Christianity™) knows very little about their own seeds, soil, and roots of their perceived Lamb of God in true, authentic historical context of Second Temple Judaism/Messianism. Perhaps none at all.
For example, can you tell us EXACTLY what form of Arabic and Hebrew Yeshua bar Yosef fluently spoke, read, and learned? These two precise languages, or dialects of Arabic and Hebrew are PARAMOUNT in accurately grasping what Yeshua was actually teaching/reforming! And this one question is one out of hundreds that must be asked about the FULL historical context that your Greco-Roman caricature (not true Hebraic) of a “Savior” originates.
Hence, going into forgiveness as you follow with is pointless without the correct, proper, contextual history established as the first pillar of examination. Period. At this point it is irrelevant in the true historical discussion. But forgiveness, or grace, or humble recognition that humanity is certainly imperfect is merely stating the obvious. However, it does merit its worth in personal relationships. Comme ci, comme ça.
Finally, I’ll indulge this statement as well:
I believe you may have overlooked or missed the meaning of my original two approaches to that slippery slope. My #1 proposition or approach meant exactly that! Moving on, letting the distant past be the buried distant past… forgiveness? Sure. Moving on comes in several different fashions and forms. 😉
Nonetheless, “forgiveness” in the way you are describing is very hard to find in either religion/faith or behavior. Has been since at least 70 CE, 1099 CE, 1916, and 1947. And yet, your 1st thru 4th-century CE version of forgiveness and all it entails is ITSELF inaccurate, diluted, convoluted, and severely amputated because so very few Americans even know, much less fully understand the soil, seeds, roots, and birth of their own Hellenistic cult called Christianity or Christology! The same goes for Islam and especially to Zionist Israelites!
Shame? Not interested. Though it is a small component of human psychology and pathology regarding the subject here. Shame is liberally doled out by all Abrahamic religions and as popular, common as a the idiom penny-a-dozen implies. But it is irrelevant here. I find going after shame an utterly different topic within the parameters of rehab and counseling. That is proper secular rehab/counseling based upon a century plus of medical, neurological, psychological, and cognitive knowledge (Agnotology considered) and history in the clinical field.
I propose everybody DROPPING COMPLETELY their 1st-century and 7th-century mythologies and move on from say… oh, the 1970’s or ’80’s at most? 😉
Regards again to you CT. You are more than welcome to have the last word/response here. That free-time yesterday ran out last night. Enjoy the rest of your week then weekend.
The reasons I gave for valuing history had to with the context of the discussion, not with making a complete or perfect list.
What about your questions about Jesus Christ? You may wish to consider an old proverb.
When a Christian puts his faith in Jesus, he does so based upon what he knows and based upon how his faith has worked for him in the past. He chooses to follow Jesus because he has decided that is the best choice, not because he has perfect knowledge. Because we are finite creatures, we don’t have perfect knowledge. Anyway, your questions
So, which of us is being foolish? You think Muslims are just going to move on because you are so smart they just have to listen to you? To what? Why? We both know that the only way you will get what you want is by using lethal force. Consider. You don’t disagree people need to know about Jesus. You just insist that they be taught what you believe. Ultimately, your “peace” requires the same sort of submission Mohammed required, coerced wit a knife at the throat.
Everyone has their own life and their own designs for their life. To persuade Muslims to change what they plan for their lives, they must believe we care about them, especially if that means giving up long held beliefs and grievances. Muslims will only give up what they believe for the sake of something better. Merely moving on to make you happy for a few minutes is not better.
Curious the way you twisted the way I used the word “shame”, but your understanding of Christianity is twisted too. The forgiven have no reason to be ashamed.
Twisting, convoluting, distorting, amputating, adding, etc, etc, ad nauseum has been an art that was perfected by Greco-Roman copyists of a 1st-century Jewish Reformer and was passed on to ALL the Greek Patristic Church Fathers throughout the following 8-10 centuries that eventually morphed into your 16th-century Hellenistic Western Hemisphere Reformation. From the start none of it represents anything at all of true authentic Second Temple Sectarian Judaism/Messianism, the very core of what Yeshua bar Yosef was steeped in… something over 97% of Greco Christologists today have no clue about. Period. Don’t believe me, go do your exhaustive homework and legwork about your False Savior.
So you do NOT know the exact dialect of Arabic or Hebrew that Yeshua/Jesus spoke? That speaks volumes right there.
Have a good weekend CT.
How silly! Are you really dumb and arrogant enough to based your choice of where you will spend eternity on a pretense of academic superiority? Such academic preening will just buy you an express ticket to Hell.
Why didn’t I answer your questions? Were they germane to the topic? No. You are just making reflexive attack on Christianity, an attack devoid of commonsense. So I did not bother to answer.
Why answer now? It seems I have inadvertently given you plenty of rope to wrap around your own neck. So, before you strangle yourself, I need to answer.
So what language did Jesus speak? Probably Aramaic (see https://zondervanacademic.com/blog/what-language-did-jesus-speak).
What language was the New Testament written in? Greek (https://www.biblica.com/resources/bible-faqs/in-what-language-was-the-bible-first-written/).
If Jesus spoke Aramaic, why did His disciples write the New Testament in Greek. Why were the apostles given the gift of tongues? So they could speak Aramaic? No. The answer is: more people wrote and spoke other languages, especially Greek. As the Apostle Paul makes clear in Romans, Jesus wanted His Gospel spread to the Gentiles. The Gentiles were more likely to understand Greek.
Instead of worrying about what you don’t know, your excuses not to believe in the salvation offered by Jesus, is not time to focus on the importance of what you do know? If you stop to think — humble yourself before God — you will realize God has shown you what you need to know. Even if it is not the evidence you demand, you have the evidence you need?
We belong to our Creator. We call Him our God because we have chosen to believe in Him. He is not our child. We are His children.
For CT —
There’s several things in that last response that do not need any attention or answering. They’re irrelevant, which begs the question Are you reading closely, properly, and comprehending completely, exactly WHAT I’m asking you, explicitly and implicitly? Your first paragraph is fluff; doesn’t warrant any response. Your second paragraph is a wrong interpretation of what I wrote and asked, and therefore warrants no attention either. Same for the third paragraph. 😄
Moving along, you wrote:
That wasn’t what I asked you CT, not completely, but I was also very specific with my question to help you understand what I was asking AND what everyone else should ask regarding Yeshua bar Yosef, or to speak your language: the caricature you (and most all under-informed, under-educated Christians) call their Greco-Roman “Savior”: Jesus Christ. Again, this is exactly what I asked you earlier in my very first response to you. I’ll put in BOLD what you must try harder to concentrate on:
Then I asked you again in my second response to you, in a slightly different form—and in BOLD again for you:
Hence, you are illustrating two things here by your responses to my specific, direct/indirect questions, or LACK OF precise, correct answers to my precise question(s) to you. This demonstrates that you—like way too many modern Christians—DO NOT KNOW about your own “Savior”! But relax, this happens all the time when I ask this specific question to modern Christians. Why? Primarily because (95% to 100%?) Christians don’t ask the very people that would know and DO KNOW exactly what dialects of Arabic and Hebrew Yeshua bar Yosef spoke, wrote, and read… along with basic Koine Greek to get by in market-trade places. This is not enough though.
Most Jews, but definitely scholarly rabbinical Jews today know Yeshua bar Yosef spoke, wrote, and read Syrio-Arabic or more precisely Safaitic and Hismaic Arabic, all considered in general, under an umbrella of “Old Arabic.” Safaitic-Hismaic Arabic originated in northern Syria, but spread south as far as the southern tip of the Arabian Penisula. THIS was the specific dialect of Arabic native to Yeshua bar Yosef, his entire family, and in every day life among all other Jews. Unless it was your native tongue, it was extremely difficult to learn, read, and write correctly for foreigners, and it DID NOT translate easily into other languages like ancient Greek! Sometimes it couldn’t translate at all.
For worship, Torah-practice and learning in Synagogues, it was Mishnaic Hebrew only…spoken, read aloud, and written. Mishnaic Hebrew is also a difficult language to learn and understand, and also is difficult to perfectly translate into ancient Greek. Just not as difficult as Safaitic-Hismaic Arabic.
Why are these two specific languages so (critically) important to know and understand—better to fluently read, speak, and write—regarding 1st-century BCE thru 4th-century CE Palestine, specifically Judea, Nabataea, Syria, etc, and during the Second Temple Period? HAH! Easy, obvious answer! …
They are exactly the FULL historical context surrounding and of Yeshua bar Yosef’s life! Then more importantly during his radical reformations he wanted for his People and God’s Kingdom on Earth—which is what Second Temple Judaism/Messianism was/is all about!
Modern Rabbinical and Orthodox Judaism and scholarship knows this because of their own long, long, LONG traditions of Judaism dating way, WAY before Jesus, Yeshua bar Yosef was ever born. This is PARAMOUNT to know and understand.
CT, why is it paramount? Another easy answer that can be answered by a simple question: Was Jesus (Yeshua bar Yosef) a Jew? There’s only one correct, single word answer to that. “YES.” Therefore, that begs the following, logical second question to TRULY know everything about Yeshua bar Yosef:
Is there any extant Gospel of Yeshua/Jesus written in Mishnaic Hebrew or Safaitic-Hismaic Arabic, the two languages Yeshua spoke, read, and possibly wrote fluently?
No and sort of yes. No Gospels exist of Yeshua in Koine Greek nor in his dialect of Arabic or Mishnaic Hebrew. However, there is a Gospel of the Hebrews vaguely referenced and known by later Greco-Roman Church Fathers, Archbishops, and Cardinals, but for many reasons they’ve all been lost or destroyed by the intolerant Romans, and most likely so by the fall of Masada in 73-74 CE, as I mentioned earlier.
Today, nearly the entire Rabbinical-Scholarly Jewish community and academia agree this is what happened. This also logically, highly plausibly, why the Dead Sea Scrolls (an invaluable lens into 1st-century Judaism in Palestine) were hidden for over 1,876 years, only to be found/discovered in 1946. This is also the same case for many, many other treasured, sacred Jewish scrolls, texts, engravings, and artifacts.
I am only scratching the tip-top surface of paramount, authentic, verified history and context CT. There’s a TON MORE, more than I’ve been able to learn and study the last 25-years. Sadly, and for obvious reasons, too many modern Christians are not interested in the real, authentic, verified history and context of Yeshua bar Yosef, their supposed Savior™ Modern Christians would much rather worship a fraudulent Greco-Roman version (Greek Apotheosis) called Christ, which ironically doesn’t represent or align AT ALL (not even close) to a real, authentic Anointed One or Ones (Messiahs).
And this brings us full-circle. RIGHT THERE is the major problem CT that foreign countries and cultures get so frustrated with us Americans, particularly Christian Americans. They don’t really know, much less understand, their own Arabic-Hebraic Yeshua bar Yosef they wrongly call Christ, Savior, et al, and are ignorant/naive it is Hellenistic, or Greco-Roman, NOT authentically Jewish, specifically Sectarian Jewish of 2-4 rural communities, one of which was nomadic or semi-nomadic called Nasoreans, or Nasorites, Nazarites, or Nazi… the Safaitic-Hismaic Arabic does not directly translate into Greek nor English. Rabbinical-scholarly Judaism has been trying to say this, teach this for some 1,900 years! 😄
Moving on and with respect, the remainder of your last response and those paragraphs are not constructive and also do not warrant any attention.
To conclude then, I am more than happy to provide plenty of introductory sources and references, if you’d like CT, that will get you started on your own verification of all and any of this I’ve written for you. It is VERY MUCH WORTH IT if you truly want to know everything about Yeshua bar Yosef. In fact, I’d be pleasantly shocked (impressed?) if you did! I hope so, but I know I shouldn’t hold my breath. 😉 😛
Enjoy the rest of your weekend CT.
No and sort of yes. No Gospels exist of Yeshua in Koine Greek nor in his dialect of Arabic or Mishnaic Hebrew.
It should’ve read:
There is such a thing as being unable to see the forest because a tree is blocking your view. You have this bush right in front of you, and you think that is the forest? Because the bush is no big deal, you forest does not matter? Trying stepping back from your bush and looking around.
Do ordinary Christians misunderstand the Bible? Yes. Unfortunately, most people never read it. When people misunderstand a document they have never bothered read, what is the point of taking their misunderstanding seriously? All you have is evidence of laziness by people who have not committed themselves to learning the truth.
Just the same, I have never been especially astounded the confusion of Christian who have not read the Bible. It is the supposed “scholars” who claim the Bible says things it clearly does not say that baffle me. That difference is the difference between ignorance and a deliberate, bald-face lies.
Was something lost in the translation of what Jesus taught? The Gospels have four different authors. The Gospels were written from four different points of view. The Apostle Paul knew his subject better than you or I ever will. In the books he wrote, he explains Christian theology quite well. If you cannot understand the New Testament, it is because you don’t want to do so.
For centuries scholars have argued that past generations have reliably transmitted the Bible from one generation to the next. You want to argue otherwise? Even if there were a remote possibility that you are right, you and your consensus of scholars are a couple of thousand years late.
You do realize I don’t take the consensus of scientists on “climate change” seriously either. Too much stupid politics in a consensus and not much wisdom.
The New Testament was written by contemporaries Jesus Christ, people who were deeply interested in His life and teachings, martyrs, except for one. Did they get it right? No? Are we suppose to take you and your consensus more seriously than we do them?
I have the proof I need. Here is some of it.
Not enough for you? That’s between you and God. It is not in my power to change a human heart.
Anyway, you are not trying to convince me or you would not be so insulting. You are trying to convince yourself. Apparently, that consensus is not good enough.
All of that opine is certainly within your personal right to perceive and believe CT. It is everyone’s right/opinion as well, all 7.7-billion on Earth, to agree or disagree. To some extent professional, equitable consensus hedges against fallacies or distortion, but wide consensus is never without its necessary bed-partner: individual or small group skeptics, explorer’s, and progressives to refine (or overhaul) the consensus, or in this/your case, Orthodoxy… specifically Greco-Roman orthodoxy.
To conclude, you misinterpret the overwhelming historical context of Yeshua’s 1st-century world—that I have introduced and has been accumulating in scholarly academia for the last 2-3 decades and continues—as a personal attack or “insult” to you. No, not correct.
There’s no need to be (hyper?) sensitive about a skewed topic, person(?), culture, and history that is 1,900+ years removed from you. It is the exhaustive, INDEPENDENT warehouse of evidence (versus dependent, one-lensed Greek bias) that you are stubbornly refusing to examine fairly. That’s all. It isn’t a personal attack on you, but on an erroneous choice made without possessing all the cumulative, independent-based evidence. See the difference?
Nonetheless, we can now happily agree to disagree. At least perhaps your readers will know there is always three or more sides to every story. Not just one. 😉
You are concluding again? Shrug!
Anyone who read your first comment knows that’s malarkey.
If you cannot be trusted to be truthful in such a small matter…….
I think you confusing my disagreement with your conclusion with a lack of interest in languages and history.
They didn’t know that before you showed up? Why do think so little of people you don’t know?
You are undoubtedly quite intelligent. Is that enough? No. There is a profound difference between intelligence and wisdom. Since I have learned to regret the lack of the latter much more than I do the former, I study scripture.
LOL 😄 Touché. However, you did not get to the hyper-sensitive personal offenses (defense/apologetics) as quickly as most Greco-Roman Christians, or Christologists; so I went with it a bit longer. Thank you for not censoring my comments or deleting them all together. I tip my hat to you for that courtesy.
Nonetheless, I knew we’d eventually jump on a merry-go-round—that typically happens when I ask very, very specific direct questions dealing with Yeshua bar Yosef, that is the ACTUAL historical figure of Jewish and Roman history—and those Xians who never want to leave their one tiny Theme Park ride for all the rest of the verified, proven, highly plausible INDEPENDENT data, evidence, non-Canonical testimonies, etc, etc. 95% of modern Christians just refuse to equitably examine, much less study closely with above-average fairness INDEPENDENT sources of the late Second Temple Period of Judaism—which can never be avoided or denied for obvious reasons! I’m just utterly baffled by that level of tunnel-vision, or fear, or whatever it is that keeps them in that tiny Theme Park with only one merry-go-round. 😉
So… to conclude a 2nd or 3rd time 😄… You can lead a donkey to the water-trough, but you can’t make it drink if the animal refuses to… as the adage goes.
I might stop by again in two years or so CT. I’m sure that will make you very happy. 😉
Oh, in case you didn’t know and were never interested in any of my past church/missions experience, church staff work history, seminary education, etc, I am extremely familiar and learned in Biblical studies, theology, and simple charity work helping humanity in need… especially in the Psych/A&D rehab and therapy, family and/or individuals. IOW, I have a much bigger empathetic HUMAN side than you are aware… along with that intelligence and wisdom you mentioned. 😉
Thanks CT for the brief dialogue.
Empathetic or not, expert or not, your previous comment contains a considerable amount of ad hominem. When I referred to the consensus argument for climate change (originally called global warming until the stupidity of that became obvious), I did so because the warmists are making emotional, not logical arguments.
When we are making an argument, if we want our hearers to focus on our arguments, not our self, then we should not talk about our self. None of us is so special that we can make what we say true just because we say something is true.
When must we speak about our opponents? When they start trying to make the character of their opponents or their own personal, “special” character pertinent to the truth of their arguments.
Bottom-line: You don’t seem to be aware of the fact you live in a glass house. If you don’t want to break your windows, then you need to stop throwing bricks.
Thank you for visiting.
There is always hope, but frankly in order to have hope related to Islam, first we need to understand and recognize the differences that prevent our hopes from becoming realities.
Check out my reply to Curmudgeon if interested..
Regards and goodwill blogging.
Islam has a religious objective that includes dominating the world for Allah. This means that the overall objective would be to eventually “colonize” and subvert every other religion on earth to Islam. You can read many references to this goal in the Quran. So the answer to the question about Islam and the United States relationships — Let me say this as my opinion: The United States and The Islamic World can have positive relationships with each other but only to the extent that those relationships favor Islam and support the eventual goal of Islam becoming the dominant belief system in the entire world. (“”And fight them until there is no more fitnah and
the religion is all for Allah”
Al Anfaal: 39 — The problem with this is that Christianity says much the same thing but in different words.
Well, Jesus never told us to “fight them”. The Bible calls upon us to live in peace with others as much as it depends upon us.
This passage by itself almost sounds pacifistic, but think about verse 18. This passage would not excuse us if we did not defend our loved ones or stand by idly while Nazis exterminate people.
Repeat this to me again when the time comes for them to take over America. I doubt that we will simply lay down in front of them and surrender everything.
The Bible says, in regards to the descendants of Ishmael:
“And he will be a wild man; his hand will be against every man, and every man’s hand against him; and he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren.”
I tried to post this on Curmudgeon’s blog, but I’m not sure that showed up:
Interesting. I like your ending. However, just as it may be hard to generalize about intentions of our disparate Founders and Framers (including the Post-Civil War Framers), the thousands of very different Christian denominations and the homogeneity of a culture as doggedly pluralistic as America’s, don’t you think that it may also be tough to lump over a billion Muslims into one seamless basket, especially if one considers that Islam seems to be going through their own version of Reformation Wars.
On the other hand, because in his “Clash of Civilizations” Huntington’s most notable defining characteristic of a “civilization” was religion, only wishful thinking would keep us from seeing the truth that, if religion in some strong sense defines culture, then it also must be some catalyst to cultural clashes.
Here’s my quandary Mr. Curmudgeon: at it’s heart of hearts, I just don’t think Christianity is culturally tribal. Just the opposite – Jesus’ message of universal love appears to be anti-tribal, and thus Christianity spread easily from culture to culture, no doubt transforming those cultures (and often being distorted itself by culture) as it spread. Do you see the dilemma?
Do you think that it is possible that the moment we use Christianity as a vehicle to promote any culture, tribalism or nationalism, then it ceases to actually be the basic message of Christ?
I think you are confused about the meaning of tribalism. One of the problems with using words as weapons is that we begin to lose track of their meaning. When words fail to have a shared meaning, we cannot use them to communicate.
Of course, neither Christianity nor Islam are tribal religions. What distinguishes them from each other?
1. Jesus Christ versus Mohammed
2. The Bible versus the Koran
Each religion believes something different about God, and what we believe makes a difference in what we do and why we do what we do.
Hence we have iamcurmudeon writing a post suggesting that American Christians should do what Christians do. Instead of nation building, we should be showing our enemies the love of Christ Jesus. We should conquer them with the message of the Gospel.
The descendants of Ishmael will always have their fist raised to harm Israel and thereby placing themselves at the top of God’s enemies list.
You think my words were meant as weapons? Aimed at what or whom? Like I said, I agree with Curmudgeon’s final point.
Perhaps you may be confusing what religion is verses how it may being misused. Tribalism defines us as humans in both good and bad ways. But I would not get too hung up on the word “tribalism” if it bothers you. Some say “Christian Culture” instead.
You’ve used that phrase, “Christian Culture”, approvingly before, haven’t you? Curmudgeon points to our national Christianity as something special and superior, as compared to Islamic cultures, doesn’t he? Huntington differentiates distinct “civilizations” but the main cultural dividing lines between his civilizations appear to be the dominant religion’s mythological effects on each civilization.
Curmudgeon points out that Christian belief systems (for example, about equality, about freedom of conscience) originally bound together our nation and profoundly influenced the way we wrote our founding documents. Who could seriously argue therefore that that common understanding and our continuing disputes about our dominant religion influenced and continues to influence our national culture, our civilization, our tribe (whatever term least offends you) in both the positive and the negative?
Although Christian religion probably made us think differently about individual equality, the Reformation Wars no doubt also caused the Founders to put in the 1st Amendment’s oft conflicting religious clauses as protections both for religious freedom and against religious conflict, and as you know, those protections, as well as all federal protections, were fundamentally transformed by the application of the 14th Amendment.
Given all this clear evidence, it is hard to dispute that Christian influence does not give our own tribal tendencies their own unique flavor, or that they don’t make us special, if not even culturally superior in some ways. My quandary certainly doesn’t dispute any of that.
My question. Is whether, despite its obvious “influence” on culture, on tribe, on civilization, God’s core message of sacrificial love in Christianity doesn’t transcend the whole concept of tribe, culture, civilization in there universality, and indeed, are anti-tribal?
I did not proof read that final sentence. It’s got some typos so let me rephrase:
The words “tribalism”, “culture”, “civilization” and even “nationalism” all describe shared commonalities of groups that both bind each group together and that are used by those groups to differentiate themselves from other, often competing groups. The influences of Christianity, Confucius,, Islam, etc. all to a great extent define and differentiate these groups and their group Gestalt. Given that, is there something about the message, the example, of the Universal Christ that transcends all such group thinking to the point even that those boundary lines no longer make any sense? Indeed, don’t you think that once we draw such a boundary line between “us” and “them”, in this understanding, wouldn’t it be the same as drawing a boundary line between ourselves and Him?
Is Christianity anti-tribal? Prior to Christianity, everyone identified themselves as part of a group. Us versus them. When us conquered them, us formed an empire. Jesus taught His apostles something new. He taught them that all those who believe in Him are brothers and sisters, the adopted children of God.
To begin to understand why Jesus was the most important man who ever lived, check out https://citizentom.com/2017/03/30/who-is-this-man-by-john-ortberg-part-7/.
Consider this post as well https://citizentom.com/2020/01/04/something-else-to-read-in-the-new-year-a-belated-new-years-resolution/.
Then think about the difference between a nation state and an empire. A nation state is a coalition of tribes. An empire consists of one tribe ruling over a bunch of other tribes. That’s why it was a big deal to be a Roman citizen in the Roman Empire. This is also why God approves of nation states, but He doesn’t seem to like empires. We belong to Him.
So is Christianity anti-tribal? No. When we love God — when we accept Jesus as our Savior — the Father adopts us into His family, His tribe. God’s tribe is superior to all others.
If we believe the Bible and we believe that Jesus is the way, then we can only pity Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Atheists, and so forth. We can help them by sharing the Gospel with them. Because it discourages those who need to know the Truth of Christ, to pretend that any other religion is just as good as Christianity is worst than nonsense.
Perhaps the confusion has to do with the semantics of the word “tribalism”. I agree with much of what you wrote to begin with, but then you wrote some things that seem inconsistent with what little revelation my faith has allowed me to understand, revelations that are foundational to my relationship with Christ. Perhaps you know the truth, but I’m sorry, this endless dividing doctrinal tribalism just does not sing to me personally as completely true. Does that mean that I can’t belong to your supposedly “Christian” tribe? Who else are you throwing out?
Maybe it would help if we considered these principles when we decide to set up harmful tribal boundaries between “us and them”, however you wish to define OUR tribe:
The Word, grace, revelation give us a profound window into the ultimate truth, but not the whole infinitely mysterious truth. This gives the knowledge of the infinitely Almighty that is necessary to our salvation, but it does not make us God and it does not make any ONE of us or All of us as a group (or tribe) superior to any other individual or group. If anything, the grace that brings this revelatory knowledge must begin with awareness of our common human fallibility and a loving recognition of the Christ that exists in every other person and every other group, including and perhaps especially those who differ from us, even our enemies.
The sinking recognition of our weakness becomes our greatest strength. Once we claim solid superiority, we just show ourselves as an empty shell. Acceptance of our inferiority gives us a fluid cohesive Body of Christ. Our resilience derives from the persistent flow of our humble faith and hope that manifests itself through grace in eternal Spirit, not the material power of brute force.
We must be like water, not iron. Although iron can break bones, humble water wears down the mighty mountains and brings life to everything.
If God is not in everyone then God is in no one. If our God is not eternal to all people in all times in all places, then it is not God we claim to worship. When we assume that someone in another time or another religion does can not also experience God’s love because we smugly proclaim our doctrine is superior, and that person or group’s doctrine is inferior, we make the mistake of the Pharisees – we presume way too much for God. Instead of making ourselves larger in God’s love we miniaturize God to the size of a religion, a human doctrine and make an infinitely mysterious God into a tiny idol.
Do you get my points?
Humility is about putting God first in our lives. We think of others as better than our self because God wants us to love our neighbors. Still, what is true is true. Jesus is our Savior. God is our superior. The Bible is God’s revelation. We honor God by studying and obeying His Word.
Paradox? The paradox is that God chose to save us even when we were still sinners. Jesus died for us even though we had yet to repent. Again, this is cause to humble ourselves before God. We are not worthy of such love.
Universality. There are groups that come under the banner of universalism, proclaiming God eventually saves everyone. The Bible plainly states God doesn’t save everyone, but we prefer to believe what we want to believe.
Who doesn’t God save? Unrepentant sinners. Who are the unrepentant sinners? That is for God to determine. My job is to follow Jesus.
You are too worried about things we cannot change. Consider.
Love your neighbor as you love yourself. Just remember we must love God more than we love ourself.
“Who doesn’t God save? Unrepentant sinners. Who are the unrepentant sinners? That is for God to determine. My job is to follow Jesus.”
I like that. However, if that’s true then why should we be judging of others’ religions if it is not a backhanded form of our judging their redemption as individuals and as groups of individuals? If God is the soul (and sole) judge, then, by your own scriptural interpretation and rational, there can be no judgement of another’s religion anymore than we can judge their soul. Rather than judging others’ beliefs as the fate of their redemption, shouldn’t we, as you infer, focus on getting out those planks in our own vision that keep us from seeing the Christ in everyone, of all religions? What kind of example of God’s love can we really be if we spend more time criticizing, condemning and judging others than actually showing love for them? I confess that I could be a lot better follower of Christ at this than I am.
Please don’t misinterpret me – I think we agree that, out of love and based upon God’s preeminent Commandment to love, we often must judge and speak and even act forcefully in response to people’s hateful and harmful words and actions. That said, if we tell someone, a person who may be more moral than ourselves, that their religion alone bars them from redemption, and that our own peculiar religious belief system is God’s exclusive redemptive doctrine, then wouldn’t you say that that goes beyond making a statement of personal faith and falls farther into the territory of making statements on God’s behalf?
There are thousands of Christian denominations, and still counting. Which one’s members will God save and which will God decline? Who decides? There are numerous Islamic denominations with varying doctrines as diverse as those of Christians. Have those who condemn Islam studied Islam to the point where they can judge the salvation, not only all the individual souls who claim to be Islamic, but all the groups of souls in each Islamic denomination.
Judaism, Islam and Christianity all come from the same Abrahamic scriptural source. They are all monotheistic. Is it possible that many Christians sects have more doctrinally in common with some Islamic theologians than they have differences? How much in common are spiritual Christians and Islamic Sufi Mystics? If we cannot truly judge that a loving and moral atheist will not find God’s mercy, wouldn’t it be even more presumptive to condemn our fellow Abrahamic theists?
“Love your neighbor as you love yourself. Just remember we must love God more than we love ourself.“
Good advice. I would even argue a belief that ALL love ultimately comes from loving God. In fact, that is basically all that I am saying. Before you deem to lecture, have you considered trying to listen and clearly understand. For some reason, you seem to rush to correct my supposed errors, while applauding others here who clearly wish to judge and damn in God’s name over a billion souls. While I appreciate that you believe you are wiser than I and you appear to feel the need to prove that, brother we may not even have a real argument. There may even mostly be agreement. 🙂
Humility does not excuse moral relativism nor does it justify the belief that truth is relative. Check out https://carm.org/devotion-humility. Contemplate this verse.
Humility does not require us to think we are stupid and ignorant. We are suppose to try to see things, including our self, from God’s point-of-view. We are suppose to realize that in spite of how intelligent and knowledgeable we may be in comparison to other people, God may think more highly of someone else for reasons we do not understand.
What did Jesus tell us about Himself? This, among other things.
Do I know exactly what that verse means? Do I know with utter certainty that we have to be a Christian, a disciple of Jesus in order to go to heaven? No. Nevertheless, I do know that being a disciple of Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. Therefore, I know that being a disciple of Jesus is much better than being a Muslim, a Buddhist, a Hindu, and so forth.
Check out https://citizentom.com/2020/01/04/something-else-to-read-in-the-new-year-a-belated-new-years-resolution/. Think about this quote.
Spreading the Gospel is not about lording over others. It is sharing Christ in word and in deed.
Have I corrected you? Yes. Have you corrected me? Yes.
Am I being elitist regarding ideas? Yes. Are you being elitist regarding ideas? Yes. Still, you feel judged? So, I am supposed to shut up and agree with you? So you will feel better? Why don’t you shut up and agree with me so I will feel better?😏
Ha, ha, ha! Good point Tom!
I don’t claim to understand the full import of what Jesus meant in John 14:6 either, but like you I have faith that it is true. I like to think that it has something to do with Christ being the embodiment of God’s love, and particularly of sacrificial love. And yet we also know that somehow the Christ incarnation is the Alpha and the Omega of everything, always present and available to everyone everywhere and for all times. This mystery should humble we Christians when we want to think we are too special.
As you know, God’s love is not exclusive or elite. No one owns it, but God seems let us have it mostly by giving it away freely back to God and to others. Another paradox. Is that an “elite” idea or could the lowliest illiterate Roman slave somehow understand it, and then faithfully receive hope for eternity?
As you know, upon your recommendation, I’ve read Kreeft. His book presented heady concepts in a rational effort to prove God. I enjoyed it, but I’m not really sure that it does much more than appeal to those intellectuals like you and I who are burdened by a need to intellectualize something obvious to someone, whether an intellectual or not, who basks in God’s grace through her faith and hope.
Jesus didn’t mostly preach to the intellectually elite though did He? In fact, wasn’t it the most intellectually elite of His Jewish Tribes who had a good deal to do with crucifying Jesus? Maybe there is a warning message about overmuch pride in such exclusive theological elitism in that too, don’t you think? Maybe the more we think we intellectually know about the unknowable, the more likely we are to be tempted to lead others astray into hatred, violence and wrongly judging others?
Here is another mystery for you to mull over. If a Buddhist, a Muslim, a Jew, an atheist, or even a pagan woman sitting in a cave hundreds of thousands of years ago lived a life of sacrificial love and of a loving and grateful awe at God surrounding her, who is more likely to be saved by Christ – her or the Christian who purports to believe in Jesus but practices that belief by spreading hate?
If Christian is spreading hate, what has that got to do with Christianity or Biblical teachings.
What the Great Commission requires us to do is spread the Gospel. That is mostly done by example, an example of love.