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Being Publicly Critical


David
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Hi Dutch,

 

By the way I really appreciate your contributions. Thank you.

 

One reason I don’t come back is that I think the battle that I care about is lost here. If you look at my past posts (some of which I am proud of and some of which I am not) I hope you will see someone who really cares about the future of progressive Christianity. Honestly, I have had relationships with all those “stripes” that you talk about and I wish them all well. However, I guess it has always been my hope that this was a place special for progressive Christians. Instead it has become a place special for all those “stripes”. I guess I wonder why this does not become a UU website. UU, in spite of my comments, is a great organization and has a lot of experience with bringing under one roof all of the “stripes”. I think UU is really the best place for Lawton and company.

 

Another reason that I don’t come back is a real friction that I have with Joseph. You also can see that in my history here. I try to think that this friction has to do with reason number one but I suspect there is more going on than that.

 

As far as Bill is concerned I see someone who has been all over the ballpark and still wants to play the game. I look forward to his next development. I would suggest that you be as patient with him as you obviously are with a lot of other folks.

 

If you truly feel that Bill has hindered the journeys of other persons then I hope that there is some civil way to say that. There seems to be a culture here that we should not be critical of each other. I have never understood that. I don’t think many participants here really know others personally so really we are talking in general even though we are talking with an individual.

 

Having said that I certainly support that anything that is said has be said in a civil manner. I don’t think that you need to support that position with anything except the best that is within our culture. You don’t have to agree with any particular religious position to expect the best of civility.

 

Well that turned out to be much longer than it should be.

 

David

Edited by David
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There seems to be a culture here that we should not be critical of each other. I have never understood that.

 

I think that is a correct perception. However, to my knowledge there is no constraint on disagreeing with anyone's ideas or assertions. (Joseph: if this wrong please correct me before I sin again).

 

I fail to see how the ability to criticize someone's character, even if it could be done civilly, would add anything positive to the forum. This would almost certainly stymie candid discussion and run off some members with things valuable to say.

 

George

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You are correct George. There will be no critical comments of others here in public except by moderators as deemed necessary. Any complaints should be in the complaints area which is the only area where it is allowed to critize or complain concerning the Administratiors or Moderators and the operation of this site. Members will not be publicly subject to critism by other members in any of our public areas. That has been my position since 2009 and is not a member function and will not be allowed as long as i am entrusted with this function.

 

JsephM (as Admin)

Edited by JosephM
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I think that civility within our society can recognize the difference between being critical of someone’s character and critical comments directed to members. As I remember one point of contention was whether it was allowed to say that another person was not a Christian. DavidK was famous for this. But I never found that DavidK was critical of anyone’s character. He was stating a theological position. His position was that progressives could not be Christian. So he would in conversation with progressives state that he did not think they were Christian. DavidK did not know anything about the characters of persons he was talking to. He was stating a general theological position and talking to individual persons. I always found him to be civil but certainly critical. I think you can do both and most of our society works on that basis.

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David,

 

the fact is, its a guideline taboo here and has been since i took over in 2009. While you may be correct that a members intentions may not be critical of character, some here are sensitive to such comments and came here to get away from such statements as "you are not a Chhristian" if you don't belief this.... they could also say " you are on your way to hell" and justify it by saying its the truth and i'm not attacking your character......AND the point remains it is disrespectful to come into a community and then openly violate published guidelines just because one feels it should be okay.because it is not character directed.

 

Joseph

Edited by JosephM
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As I remember one point of contention was whether it was allowed to say that another person was not a Christian. DavidK was famous for this. But I never found that DavidK was critical of anyone’s character. He was stating a theological position.

 

I disagree. I don't think it is within the bounds of civility to characterize a member as falsely self identifying. This sounds very pejorative to me. People can legitimately differ on what a religion encompasses. But, to drum someone out, particularly without an agreed upon definition, is out of bounds to me.

 

I fail to see how telling someone they are not a Christian advances civil discourse.

 

George

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As I understand the guideline is that you can say generally that progressives can not be Christian as long as you phrase it in such a way that it is a general assertion as to what a religion encompasses. But you cannot say to an individual progressive who self identifies as a progressive that he/she is not a Christian. Is that correct?

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As I understand the guideline is that you can say generally that progressives can not be Christian as long as you phrase it in such a way that it is a general assertion as to what a religion encompasses. But you cannot say to an individual progressive who self identifies as a progressive that he/she is not a Christian. Is that correct?

 

I'll leave it to Joseph to explain the guidelines. But, cannot understand why you insist on the right to characterize a participant in a manner they would consider negative.

 

George

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I disagree. I don't think it is within the bounds of civility to characterize a member as falsely self identifying. This sounds very pejorative to me. People can legitimately differ on what a religion encompasses. But, to drum someone out, particularly without an agreed upon definition, is out of bounds to me.

 

I fail to see how telling someone they are not a Christian advances civil discourse.

 

George

 

+1

 

As we keep discussing here, religion and its entities are hard to nail down. What does it take for someone to be a Christian? That's not an easy to question to answer, at least for me anyway.

 

A bigger question to me is why a person might be concerned about someone potentially "falsely" calling themselves a Christian. Someone can know all the Scripture, have read the Bible and other supporting documents a billion times over; they can go to church every Sunday and belong to every prayer group under the sun - does that make them a Christian? Or, is there more to it than that? Perhaps there is less.

 

Moreover, is that up to anyone to decide on another person's behalf? Personally, I don't think so.

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George,

If you can not explain it then it seems to me that it is not a guideline that is generally understood within our society.

 

Raven,

DavidK was a certainly not a progressive. He was however one of the more civil fundamentalists that I have come across. If you are publicly progressive then you are going to draw the attention of the fundamentalists. Rather than kicking them off of a forum that is sensitive to progressives I would suggest that we learn how to respond to them in civil conversation. That is going to involve a theological position that fundamentalists take and that is that progressives can not be Christians. To make a difference between whether that is a general comment or associated with one person makes little difference to me. But obviously I am wrong according to this forum

 

David

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David,

 

A forum, like any organization, has rules. People are free to join if they choose, but in doing so, they accept the responsibility of following those rules. If a progressive Christian joined a fundamentalist Christian forum, the progressive would likely not be encouraged to talk about acceptance of homosexuality and same-sex marriage, for example - I have seen these rules on many other Christian forums on the internet. Because that made me uncomfortable, I did not choose to join those forums.

 

If someone feels that a progressive Christian is not really a Christian, then why come to a forum expressly designed for progressive Christians? An exchange of ideas is always welcome, but there is a big difference between "civil conversation" and having someone try to label you (or un-label you) against your will, based on their own preconceived notion. It's like dating for conversion.

Edited by Raven
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George,

If you can not explain it then it seems to me that it is not a guideline that is generally understood within our society.

 

 

David,

 

 

The member you speak of was warned privately on more than one occasion. it is best you do not use name examples especially when you are unaware of private communications. You can get your point across without naming specific members.. George knows the guidelines extremely well here and was being curteous leaving it for me to explain. You can read this post from 2009 to get a better handle on it. It is recommended reading for all new members as a pinned topic and Dutch usually PM's each and everyone to familiarize themselves with them after signup and before posting.

 

You can read that post i linked and then tell me if your question has been answered.

 

Joseph

 

PS You can also click at the bottom right of the main forum page here to review the current signup terms and rules which include a recommendation to do the same.

 

In addition to that if you will read the guidelines in the "Debate and Dialog " area where it can be most often a problem, it specifically mentions at the top of the topics list under guidelines for that forum that calling another non Christian because of their beliefs or stated views is not allowed. I don't see how we can be plainer than that.

Edited by JosephM
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While we are on this subject, would you consider a person like me a Christian? I am non-theist, but have a profound respect for the teachings of Jesus. In fact, I often reflect on the words recorded in the Sermon on the Mount / Plain. I have the whole thing memorized, and try to live up to the philosophy of love and understanding I believe is contained within those words.

 

I do not believe that Jesus died for our sins. I do not believe that he rose from the dead. And, I don't believe that he was conceived of the Holy Spirit, born of a Virgin and is the Son of G-d.

 

I'm not even sure I believe there really is a G-d, but I'm open to the possibility.

 

I really think that were I to have an in depth conversation with Bishop Spong, that he would tell me that I am a Christian.

 

However, I am a realist. I no longer refer to myself as a Christian because of the previously mentioned litmus test, of which I fail miserably.

 

As a rule, if someone tells me they are a Christian or a Charmed Elf; I take them at face value.

 

NORM

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the problem is that most Christians think that being a 'christian' means that some supernatural switch has been flipped to bound you for heaven. 'Are you a christian' and are you saved' is the same thing.

 

However for most of us here 'Christian' really means a follower of Christ's teaching. With this, it merely means we try to adhere to a way of life we are attracted to. It is similiar to someone describing themselves as Freudian or Marxist, who has subscribed to a set of ideas. It is no more a 'supernatural' change than this.

 

or am i wrong?

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On a prescriptive basis, being a Christian is whatever the classifying person wants to define it. Generally, I think, it is someone whose beliefs are close to theirs. During the last presidential campaign, I saw an interview with some lady who said she couldn't vote for Obama because she was a Christian. When the interviewer reminded her that he was also a Christian, she said he couldn't be because of his beliefs (presumably on social issues).

 

On a descriptive basis, it seems to me that those whose theology or philosophy 'center' on Jesus identify themselves as Christian. This would not include those who just respect his teachings like many atheists for whom he is just one teacher among many. This would also exclude those who respect his teachings and also think he is a prophet like Muslims for whom the Prophet Muhammad and his teachings are central.

 

I also think the name 'Progressive Christian" itself implies that the definition is wide and there are legitimate Christians who are not progressive.

 

Personally, I think anyone who sincerely, and reasonably, identifies them self as a Christian is entitled to the benefit of the doubt and acceptance as such.

 

George

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Hi Norm,

 

You are setting me up, right? Read above: if I say you are not a Christian I get banned (but what is gained/what is lost since I will be returning to silence).

 

But I guess I am glad that a Jew asked this question because I can say you are not a Jew and not get banned.

 

If you are in the arena of self definition you will soon learn that self definition is not entirely up to the self. If I define myself as the President of the US I soon learn that they do not let me in the White House. If I define myself as a charmed Elf that is ok as long as I do not want to get into the society of charmed Elfs. If I define myself as a Jew that is ok as long as I don’t want to attend that orthodox temple.

 

But you want to be a Christian and of course that is where it gets real sensitive around here. Here you obviously can say that a divine stanger gave you a divine revelation and you are Christian by right of that revelation. You come here and declare that you are Christian and that same divine revelation told you that you had no problem with the eight points but you were here to tell us what those eight points really meant. You would be accepted of course unless you broke rules that were more important than the eight points which include not saying that I am not a Christian or repeating over and over and over and over that you thought that you were right and I was wrong.

 

You see self definition can be up to the self only if you live on your own private island and control every little aspect of yourself. But once you realize that you are part of a community you will find that self definition is not entirely up to the self and even though that self wants everyone else to accept you at face value that society of charmed Elfs is not necessarily going to agree with you. If you have no concern for that society and are only using the Elf name because it pleases your selfdom then you may coexist to the extent that the society lets you. Apply that to being a Jew and then come back and let’s talk again.

 

David

Edited by David
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But I guess I am glad that a Jew asked this question because I can say you are not a Jew (any identity label) and not get banned.

 

No, David, any self claimed label denied will cross the line.

This is not about being Christian or not.

 

If I define myself as the President of the US I soon learn that they do not let me in the White House.

 

Self Identification and behavior are different, David. You could ask the one claiming to be President what would happen if they went to the White House and then deal with response. You could ask a Christian if they think God would consider them a Christian or if they will get into heaven.

 

Dutch

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Guideline for Progressive Christianity individual forum only participation

This area is a 'safe place' for general, supportive discussion about progressive Christianity or related ideas reserved for those who consider themselves Christians (by their own definition) AND agree in principle with the 8 points of TCPC.

 

Note (by their own definition as long as they agree in general to the 8 points.

 

Dutch is correct concerning our etiquette on all forums here. Any self claimed label denied crosses the line. If one is not willing to abide by that, it is best they keep silent.

 

Joseph

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Norm,

 

While we are on this subject, would you consider a person like me a Christian? I am non-theist, but have a profound respect for the teachings of Jesus. In fact, I often reflect on the words recorded in the Sermon on the Mount / Plain. I have the whole thing memorized, and try to live up to the philosophy of love and understanding I believe is contained within those words.

 

I, too, have a profound respect for the teachings of Jesus. In my opinion (and also in that of many Jesus scholars), Jesus was a Spirit-person, someone who experienced God as a reality in his life and whose teachings came, not just out of Judaism, but out of his experiences with/of God. In fact, the gospels claim that Jesus said that his teachings didn't come from himself, but from God. If this is true on a reasonable level, then it seems to me that Jesus taught and lived out theism. I'll grant that Jesus' theism probably tends towards supernatural theism. But most of us here are aware of another kind of theism - panentheism, and that theistic framework still fits well with Jesus' teachings. I often think it fits better with many of Jesus' teachings than supernatural theism does.

 

I do not believe that Jesus died for our sins. I do not believe that he rose from the dead. And, I don't believe that he was conceived of the Holy Spirit, born of a Virgin and is the Son of G-d.

 

I question these things myself, Norm, and because I don't hold to the Creeds, I am forbidden to post on most "Christian" forums. I don't find that Jesus ever taught that he was conceived of the holy Spirit or that he was born of a virgin. But I think he is the son of God just as we are also the sons and daughters of God.

 

I no longer refer to myself as a Christian because of the previously mentioned litmus test, of which I fail miserably.

 

I fail the orthodoxy test miserably also. If I tell folks that I am a Christian because I believe in Jesus' Great Commandments, that is not enough for them. They want Christianity defined, not by Jesus, but by 2000 years of Church doctrine.

 

As a rule, if someone tells me they are a Christian or a Charmed Elf; I take them at face value.

 

Okay. If someone tells me that they are a Christian, I want to know what that means to THEM.

 

George seems to think, if I understand him correctly, that anyone can believe anything they want to and still self-identify as a Christian. This is analogous to saying that anyone can believe anything they want to and still self-identify as a Jew or a Muslim. But religious labels MUST mean something. We can, and should, discuss what they mean. For me, being a Christian means trying to live the Way that Jesus taught and showed us in his Great Commandments - loving God and loving others. This is not "Christian" enough for most "Christians". And my definition is probably way too conservative for this forum. But that's how I see it. This doesn't mean that those who disagree with my understanding are diminished. I still consider us all to be children of God (from my point of view). But it does mean that being a Christian has some distinctives from other religions and philosophies. I just don't find the view that Christianity embraces all religions and philosophies to be helpful. I think it can live compatibly with other religions/philosophies. But I still think that Jesus should have *some* say over what it means to be a Christian or a Christ-follower rather than we each make up our own definitions and declare them to be "just as good as anyone else's".

 

As always, my 2c.

Edited by Wayseeker
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You can ask about one's definition of being Christian and disagree with the definition.

 

Dutch

 

 

Dutch,

 

If I claim to be the President what is the difference between saying I am not the President and saying I don’t meet the definition of being President? If I say I am not a criminal because I shot someone does not society have the right to say my self definition is wrong?

 

Once we agree on some standard where society is more important than the individual then we can also talk about where the individual does have an absolute right that can not be touched by society.

 

David

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Bill,

That is fine. It is productive and most acceptable to ask a person what the label they choose means to them as long as it stops there and doesn't get into a stage where we say or accuse them that they are not, as that does nothing for the conversation.

 

Joseph

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George seems to think, if I understand him correctly, that anyone can believe anything they want to and still self-identify as a Christian. This is analogous to saying that anyone can believe anything they want to and still self-identify as a Jew or a Muslim. But religious labels MUST mean something.

 

Bill, that is not what I meant. What I said was, "Personally, I think anyone who sincerely, and reasonably, identifies them self as a Christian is entitled to the benefit of the doubt and acceptance as such."

 

Please note "sincerely" and "reasonably." Also, please note "benefit of the doubt."

 

George

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