Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
roymercer

Why Was Jesus Born

Recommended Posts

I am not sure that Paul even knew what was in the Gospels. Paul started writing before they were written and he never refers to anything in them except Jesus' death. I believe Paul influenced the Gospel writers but I do not think it happened the other way around.

 

Sorry Matteoam but I could not look at the link you gave as my antivirus said it contained malware and blocked it.

Edited by Pete

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Strange about the link as I accessed once then couldn't then could again.

 

True that the gospels were not written but there was enough known about Jesus to influence Paul and others and enough of a belief to compel him to do what he did. Remember he also spent time in Arabia - though it is unclear how long, and that he met with the other apostles.

 

I don't see Paul's handwork in the gospels themselves and I ask for any proof that he had anything to go with their construction.

 

Despite all that I think his speech about the unknown god (Acts 17) is more contextualization than syncretism.

 

I think it is disingenuous to dismiss Paul as he is the precursor to the Christianity of the church fathers. Despite any for or against him he is a powerful thinker who had a profound spiritual experience who tried to make sense if it in his life.

 

I see no syncretism nj his writing. If you do please point not out to me regardless of your dismissal of him as being relevant.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Paul said he met no one :-

Galatians 1

11 I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel I preached is not of human origin. 12 I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ.

13 For you have heard of my previous way of life in Judaism, how intensely I persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it. 14 I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people and was extremely zealous for the traditions of my fathers. 15 But when God, who set me apart from my mother’s womb and called me by his grace, was pleased 16 to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles, my immediate response was not to consult any human being. 17 I did not go up to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before I was, but I went into Arabia. Later I returned to Damascus.

18 Then after three years, I went up to Jerusalem to get acquainted with Cephas and stayed with him fifteen days.19 I saw none of the other apostles—only James, the Lord’s brother. 20 I assure you before God that what I am writing you is no lie.

 

 

It is only in Acts 9 ( a much later document) that we have a story of him meeting the disciples and this contradicts Paul comments above.

My belief is that Paul's message influenced the thought of the Gospels so that they reflected his view rather than that of the background of Judaism found in the disciples and Jesus. Note also that in Galatians 2 Paul talks about returning years later to find Peter still behaving as a Jew with the customs of Judaism. I am quite convinced that the disciples of Jesus remained in Judaism and it is Paul's message which presented as more acceptable to the gentiles that formed the common view of Christianity today. I do not believe Jesus planned on starting a new religion and neither did those who knew him.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think you're right in the opinion that the disciples remained in their tradition. What does Jesus not starting a religion have to do with syncretism?

 

Also if you read Acts 9 as a linear narrative there seems to be a contradiction but maybe it is a fragmented account chronologically. I am not a biblical scholar but I don't see the contradiction as the narrative seems fragmented to me but not contradictory. I'm saying this not to harmonize the accounts. I really don't look at the gospels or the letters of the NT like that. I see them as mostly occassionsal accounts of Jesus and the disciples as well as theological explanations of people's experience of Jesus.

 

I can see his the church fathers to change the subject as being anachronistic and even syncretic. But so what? In the context of the experience of the Divine as well as the necessity of forming communities and surviving in the face of peril there may be the need to contextualization the experience of Jesus.

 

Again where is the syncretism in Paul?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Definition of SYNCRETISM
1
: the combination of different forms of belief or practice
2
: the fusion of two or more originally different inflectional forms
I think that we are all "guilty" of some manner of syncretism (using the definition from Merriam Webster above) in our religious beliefs. I have not met one single Christian, Jewish person, Muslim, Hindu or etc., who didn't blur the lines between their professed faith expression and whatever smattering of philosophy or hodgepodge of gleaned theology from an accidental exposure.
I think that Paul quite consciously infused the Jewish faith as expressed by the first group of worshipers who fell under the teachings of Jesus with pagan / Hellenistic thought and philosophy. I think that those who would later compose the writings we call the Gospels either ignored or were not exposed to Paul's letters with the possible exception of the gospels attributed to "John" and "Luke."
I think that the religion we call Christianity today owes its very essence to the mind of Paul. The letter to the Romans alone is dripping with much of the major tenets of the faith. It departs quite radically from the Jewish faith as practiced by Jesus and his immediate followers.
I do not think this is either good or bad from my perspective, as I align myself more closely to Judaism than Christianity. I prefer a clear distinction between the two - what with all that today's Christian "majority" seems to want to align itself with.
NORM

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I get your point norm but frankly I have never heard one scholar who is against Christianity ever speak about Paul being syncretic.

 

In Galatians Paul asks the community to sort out the confusion that may be syncretism. The same in Colossians. And in Acts 14 and 19. And in 1 Corinthians 5. Here he speaks against it.

 

It sounds here in this conversation like the argument that Paul was syncretic that he took Judaism and used it to create Christianity, that to me has no grounding. Paul was not a Christian as we all see Christianity to be today. That religion did not exist and did not start to exist until well into the 1st century with the church fathers who were syncretic.

 

Again show me a passage(s) where Paul is syncretic.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Paul was a Hellinistic Jew. Some believe that he used his knowledge of Epicurus to make some of his arguments, using the same terminology but not in a syncretic way but like he spoke against the unknown god in Athens he contextualized it to redefine it. That is not the same way that say someone who practices Santeria looks at St Lazarus as Babalu Aye.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I just believe that although Paul may of spoken against other views I believe his concepts on Jesus were from his Hellenized experiences of what it is to be divine from being brought up in Tarsus rather than from that of Judaism.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have already mentioned " The idea of a human sacrifice, drinking even symbolic blood of human or animal sacrifice, dying in the flesh to rise in the spirit and sharing the existence of Jesus are not Jewish concepts but are pagan. The idea of human sacrifice or drinking even symbolic blood is right up there with eating pork."

Such concepts are alien to Judaism but not to hellenized pagan beliefs which many believe made them more acceptable to the Gentiles. I believe Paul took such concepts from other beliefs and combined them with his view of Christianity.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f2Wbu9ZpTSs

Sorry about the inappropriate music

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IqlSuvAAjkM

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That makes sense Pete. But is it so simplistic as Steve suggests? Picking and choosing? The response is what I would expect from a fundamentalist Christian. Syncretism as Steve suggests is not so superficial. That implies to me an insult to the modern syncretic religions of today - Santeria etc.. It also demeans the intelligence of PCers who question the traditions of Christianity.

 

Why is syncretism do bad? What is the pure tradition that one who is against it holds?

 

My issue is with the criticism that PC is syncretic which I font think it is. Applying the term is anachronistic. There is no new religion being created in PC as Steve implies.

 

PC doesn't quite get to the basis of Jesus' teaching either. It is a response to mainline Protestantism in its failed liberal social teachings.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I cannot speak for all PCs or anyone else. I can only speak for me and that maybe simple if you like. I see nothing wrong with picking and choosing or syncretism and believe this was done from the beginning and all religions contain an element of it. When I call myself a Liberal Christian I do not speak for all Liberal Christians or attempt to insist that all Liberal Christians should think as I do. In this I believe I differ strongly from fundamentalism. In the strictest sense the word Christ refers to Jesus as a Messiah or anointed one and I feel more happy with being a Jesus inspired person but if I say this then, in modern lay terms, I am called a Christian. I am interested in my spiritual journey and in this help others on theirs rather than dictate what that should be and believing God is bigger than a petty man made religion. I therefore take what resonates with me rather than what others feel I should take.

In my experience fundamentalism criticises PCs and challenge them to assert their tenets because these are things fundamentalist thinking thinks are important. They cannot accept a spiritual journey unless there are clear rules established and which they can argue for or against. I do not want to play that game and and I am happy to walk with God where ever that takes and accept truth from where ever I find it. Fundamentalism is about asserting a creed or a set of beliefs that all should agree upon rather than grasp at the mystery of Jesus and God and trust in spirit that to lead one. You can see this when one challenges one of their tenets and their follows great efforts to prove one should agree with them and sometimes the explanation can appear to me to be turning somersaults, distorted ways of looking at things and oft (IMO) whacky explanations in order to make the discomfort of the challenge or challenger go away.

As for me I do not care of the discomfort and if someone has something that challenges me then I do not see it as always negative or feel my faith will fall upon such challenges. I am happy to take my path even if this leads to paths untrod by others. Simplistically put I see God guides the spirit where there are lessons for me and guides others where there are lessons for them. So rather than see syncretism as an insult I just do not care what others make of what I believe. If a truth is found elsewhere it is found (IMO).

I left fundamentalism because it could not grasp that the bible could be sometimes in error and they kicked me out because I would not condemn gay people. I now just do not care if they want me to assert tenets, creeds or whatever. I do not want to play their game. I left fundamentalism.

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Nothing wrong with picking and choosing but that is not syncretism. I'm just saying if a term is used it should be used properly.

" All religions possess some degree of syncretism. It's how humans work. Even if you believe God (or gods) delivered a particular idea, if that idea was completely alien to the listeners, they would not accept it. Moreover, once they receive said idea, that belief can be expresses in a variety of ways, and that expression will be colored by other prevailing cultural ideas of the time."

http://altreligion.about.com/od/glossary/p/Syncretism.htm

 

This what I am saying Paul did and I do not see what else you are offering my friend. I understand syncretism as the site defines but perhaps not in your terms. Maybe you can help with that?

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Pete it was you saying syncretism is picking and choosing. That is a superficial and inaccurate definition of the term. There were references to influences of other philosophical ideas on Paul. Fine. There are suggestions that all religions have something syncretic about it. Fine too. There are more factors at work when syncretism occurs. It is not even something that can always be evidenced. I think life is and always was and will be very complex when it comes to the evolution of belief systems.

 

I would live to see a detailed deconstruction on Paul's theology and explicit evidence of Paul's syncretism as opposed to his contextualization of use Greek philosophical terminology. The suggestions concerning Paul's syncretism are generally stated. Maybe I'm expecting too much.

 

I think has an important relation to the why question of Jesus being born. There are different reasons by most Christians. I think PC is not a form of belief that deals more with the how of life than with the why.

 

Pete are you critical of syncretism in Christianity? IWhat's wrong with it? How is it so bad for people finding hope in life?

 

From my own experience PCers I know personally feel that PC in its essence is a return to a purity in Jesus' words and actions. Just the ones I know. Nothing could be further from the truth to me but so what? Let people believe what they will if it helps them get through the day?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I am not sure of the answer.

 

The traditional Western view is that God first cursed the whole mankind with a sinful nature as a punishment because two persons ate the wrong apple. As a consequence everyone is evil and will eternally burn in hell unless they put their trust in His son Jesus.

 

As I have explained, I consider such a view to be a blasphemous non-sense.

 

 

I think that Jesus came into the world for the same kinds of reasons that the alien in "Contact" (Carl Sagan) took on a human shape.

 

First of all, God can only fully reveal Himself by becoming a man.

And this is also a way to truly teach us how we are supposed to behave.

 

And by dying due to an atrocious injustice and rising back, God showed us the ultimate victory of goodness over evil in the most beautiful way.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't think Jesus is as special as that - your reference to Contact - outside of him being a human being. His "divine" nature is nothing unique outside of human potentiality.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well we could agree to disagree on that point :-)

 

I think that in order to be a Christian, you don't mecessarily have to believe in the trinity but at the very least that God showed us His true face through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth.

 

Otherwise it seems to me that liberal Christianity is indistinguishable from "atheism for Jesus".

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The idea that liberal Christianity is indistiguisable from "Christian atheism" is too general a statement. I know Christian who would consider themselves as liberal Christians of PC who have no problems with doctrine or dogma - again vague general statements that need to be clarified when making blanket statements.

 

There are plenty of liberal Catholics who are devout and don't have issues with doctrine or dogma. They understand these things in their context but are not fundamentalist about them. Their heart seems to me to be in the right place. And that's all that matters.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi lotharson

 

Well we could agree to disagree on that point :-)

 

I think that in order to be a Christian, you don't mecessarily have to believe in the trinity but at the very least that God showed us His true face through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth.

 

Otherwise it seems to me that liberal Christianity is indistinguishable from "atheism for Jesus".

Hi lotharson,

 

It seems to me that they were first called Christians in Antioch according to the historical account in the book of Acts. Perhaps a follower of Jesus is sufficient without all the dogma and doctrine baggage? It seems to me that even the the apostles (Paul & Peter) were in disagreement on some beliefs. Perhaps they were all still learning as are we all as we journey on the path of truth.

 

Joseph

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The idea that liberal Christianity is indistiguisable from "Christian atheism" is too general a statement. I know Christian who would consider themselves as liberal Christians of PC who have no problems with doctrine or dogma - again vague general statements that need to be clarified when making blanket statements.

 

There are plenty of liberal Catholics who are devout and don't have issues with doctrine or dogma. They understand these things in their context but are not fundamentalist about them. Their heart seems to me to be in the right place. And that's all that matters.

I agree. What price is having dogma or not having dogma if one's heart is not in the right place?

I find debates about differences between liberal and progressive as a difficult one and usually say it depends upon the liberal or the progressive. I call myself "Liberal" but I am unable to clearly define the difference because they overlap so much (IMO). I say I am a liberal but I do believe in God but not as always how the bible defines God.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I like your question and I ponder it myself. I think all religions point to an understanding of the Divine (God or whatever whether theistic or non-theistic) while at the same time containing errors. That desire to understand is formulated into dogma and doctrine. I don't think that blanket statements should be made that these are just bad. There are people who use them but their hearts are not in the right place. There are people who use it and their hearts are in the right place. And there are people who outright reject dogma and doctrine whose hearts are in the right but and whose hearts arrested not in the right place. I also think people may do away with dogma and doctrine but replace it with their own. It's all a mixed bag. The point is the journey.

 

Conversations on liberal Christianity and progressive Christianity are hard because Liberal Christianity laid the foundation for PC. Again just because one can be a Liberal Christian doesn't mean they are "liberal" same with PCers - they can be conservative or liberal. Look at the United Church of Christ. While are a very liberal confederation if churches there are some which could be more doctrinal or dogmatic or conservative than bothers. Same with the Presbyterians and most of the mainline Protestsnt denominations.

 

Personally I don't have too many issues with the dogmas or the doctrines of traditional or orthodox Christianity.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, I believe anyway that many non-Christians honor Jesus and God in a much better way than many of his followers.

 

As I pointed out, I believe that many non-Christians will be with God in heaven (and I certainly reject the blasphemy of eternal hell).

 

 

But it seems we really do need a definition.

 

If a Christian is just someone loving Jesus, many Muslims, Buddhists and atheists are Christians even though they would themselves reject that label.

 

 

If dying as a non-Christian does not damn someone, it does not disturb me to define Christianity in a way which exclude many people.

The same has to be done if you want to define communism, capitalism, atheism, Rastafaris and so on and so forth.

 

Lovely greetings from Continental Europe where we miss snow.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It is interesting how PC is still caught in the pardifm of traditional, conservative, and orthodoxy despite its insistence that it doesn't or shouldn't. I have align myself with PC though it still puts forth a paradigm that is within the milieu it rejects. Itself contend with PC itself as it forces me to make a distinction that Jesus is still somehow better than other religious figures while at the same time giving me permission to believe what I will and water my beliefs down as much as I want. While I believe in the Divine I have to admit that there is the side of me that believes that since it is a human construct a monist view might not be useful. In think about why Jesus was born I think who cares. Why ask why? PC has led me to think about things spiritual in non-theistic ways. I sometimes think why not go all the way and do without the spiritusl at all and be as pure a humanist as I can be- in the sense that I am part of the most evolved species that I know and I am part of a large ecosystem which I am indebted to.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...