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    World Religion & Speculative Theology - Thread: Beliefs that Progressive Christians and Atheists Share

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      Beliefs that Progressive Christians and Atheists Share

      Many atheists believe an action is moral or immoral based on its effect on the well-being of humanity. With no need to bring God into the picture, this view of morality ends up following certain societal norms.

      It’s not so different for progressive Christianity. With the Bible evicted from its seat of authority, that authority will generally shift onto self. Personal conscience, opinion, and preference becomes the lens through which life and morality is evaluated and interpreted—and this will usually be informed by the current cultural milieu.

      In 2016, Jen Hatmaker sent shockwaves through American Christian culture by*announcing*she now affirms same-sex marriage. LGBT activist Matthew Vines*tweeted*that this made her “one of the highest-profile evangelicals” to do so. She’s hardly the only self-professed evangelical who no longer holds to the historic Christian position on sexuality and marriage.

      For atheists, morality has never been informed by the Bible, and for progressives, the Bible is being renovated to accommodate some of our culture’s moral standards.
      -------
      For (Bart) Campolo, sovereignty was the first to go. For others, it’s a belief in biblical norms regarding sexuality and gender, or the atoning sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. Whatever it may be, once a person makes their own thoughts, feelings, and opinions the authoritative source for truth, their spirituality will reflect what they prefer, rather than what’s true. And the farther a Christian walks down this path, the farther they get from a genuine relationship with God. Tim Keller aptly*notes,

      What happens if you eliminate anything from the Bible that offends your sensibility and crosses your will? If you pick and choose what you want to believe and reject the rest, how will you ever have a God who can contradict you? You won’t! You’ll have a Stepford God! A God, essentially, of your own making, and not a God with whom you can have a relationship and genuine interaction.

      https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/a...theists-share/

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      Lämmchen's Avatar
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      Do you think that progressive Christians are on their way toward becoming Atheists?
      "Christianity does not require more work but more trust." Pr. Jonathan Fisk
      "Bearing fruit does not make you a branch. A branch is a branch because it grows from the vine." Pr. Jonathan Fisk
      "A Christian's life is not defined by what the Christian does. It is defined by Christ and what He has done for us." Pr. Rolf David Preus

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      Quote Originally Posted by MennoSota View Post
      Many atheists believe an action is moral or immoral based on its effect on the well-being of humanity. With no need to bring God into the picture, this view of morality ends up following certain societal norms.

      It’s not so different for progressive Christianity. With the Bible evicted from its seat of authority, that authority will generally shift onto self. Personal conscience, opinion, and preference becomes the lens through which life and morality is evaluated and interpreted—and this will usually be informed by the current cultural milieu.

      In 2016, Jen Hatmaker sent shockwaves through American Christian culture by*announcing*she now affirms same-sex marriage. LGBT activist Matthew Vines*tweeted*that this made her “one of the highest-profile evangelicals” to do so. She’s hardly the only self-professed evangelical who no longer holds to the historic Christian position on sexuality and marriage.

      For atheists, morality has never been informed by the Bible, and for progressives, the Bible is being renovated to accommodate some of our culture’s moral standards.
      While I agree with much of your post, I would say that the Bible is being renovated to accommodate some of ANOTHER culture's moral standards. However weakened the Christian component may be at present in our culture, that is what the atheist wants to expunge and replace with a foreign standard.

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      Quote Originally Posted by Lämmchen View Post
      Do you think that progressive Christians are on their way toward becoming Atheists?
      I think they are already "practical" atheists. In fact, I believe much of the church in the United States lives like they are rational atheists.
      What I mean by this is that many Christians spend the vast amount of time with no thought about God, let alone a daily walk with God. Perhaps we give lipservice for dinner prayers, but the rest of the day is decided through human rationalism. We just don't consider God in our daily routine. In essence we live like atheists.

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      It may be that both of you are correct.

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      Quote Originally Posted by MennoSota View Post
      I think they are already "practical" atheists. In fact, I believe much of the church in the United States lives like they are rational atheists.
      What I mean by this is that many Christians spend the vast amount of time with no thought about God, let alone a daily walk with God. Perhaps we give lipservice for dinner prayers, but the rest of the day is decided through human rationalism. We just don't consider God in our daily routine. In essence we live like atheists.
      Although I wouldn't dispute the assertion about people paying lip service - a daily prayer over a meal and maybe sporadic attendance at church - I'm not sure your original assertion about questioning parts of Scripture are well phrased at all. I agree we need to submit to the authority of Scripture but it's not inappropriate to seek to determine which aspects of Scripture were cultural and which are eternal.

      For example, you mentioned homosexuality. Lev 20:13 says that if a man sleeps with a man both have done something detestable and must be put to death. We use this verse today to condemn homosexuality but apparently only the prohibition applies and not the punishment. Lev 20:10 says that adultery is punishable by death but we don't expect that to apply any more. In any event Lev 20:23 says that the Israelites must not follow the customs of the land God is giving them - the people being driven out did those things. So at a stroke Lev 20:23 suggests that all the preceding verses apply to ancient Israel rather than the modern world.

      Of course the people who expect to pick Lev 20:13 from the collection of prohibitions and make a big deal out of it don't tend to worry too much about Lev 19:18 (not holding grudges), Lev 19:19 (not planting mixed seeds, or wearing clothes from mixed fiber), Lev 19:26 (not eating meat with blood in it), Lev 19:27 (not cutting the edges of your beard), Lev 19:28 (not tattooing yourself), Lev 19:32 (standing in the presence of the aged) and so on.

      On the topic of homosexuality in particular much is often made of the fact that a prohibition in the OT is backed by a prohibition in the NT. The trouble is that most of the prohibition in the NT comes from Paul, but Paul also commanded women to cover their heads if praying or prophesying (1Co 11) and most churches ignore that requirement. Many churches also ignore Paul's call that tongues should be paired with an interpretation (1Co 14:27-28) and later note that it is a disgrace for a woman to speak in church (1Co 14:35).

      Further instructions on the topic of sexual activity that are totally ignored today - Deu 22:23-24 says that if a man rapes a woman in town and she does not cry out she deserves to die. Then Deu 22:28-29 says that if a man is caught raping a virgin who isn't betrothed to someone all he has to do is pay fifty pieces of silver and marry her. Short of returning to a society where women are little more than the property of their father before becoming the property of their husband I'm not sure how we could obey this rule.

      Lev 15:19-24 places further demands on women. During a woman's monthly cycle anything she lies on or sits on is unclean, and anyone touching anything she lay on or sat on is unclean until evening.

      Hence, I don't think it's at all inappropriate to consider which verses of Scripture should be applied today. Unless someone obeys every single one of the rules in Leviticus it frequently comes across as little more than cherry-picking when they demand one rule be followed while others be ignored, especially since most people who do that show little to no process of reasoning as to which verses they choose to apply.


      Moving on to your comment about human rationalism. Is there something wrong with using human rationalism? Much of day-to-day life doesn't specifically require interaction with God. Much of day-to-day life is about grocery shopping, deciding whether it's worth passing a slower vehicle on the highway if our exit is in three miles, figuring whether it's better to get into town to run some errands today or tomorrow, deciding whether to ask this friend or that friend to watch our children so we can go out for dinner, and so on. Generally none of this requires specific guidance from God. Major life decisions are the sort of thing one would expect a Christian to seek divine guidance for, but the fact someone chooses their route to work based on Google's traffic indicators rather than divine guidance doesn't mean they live like an atheist.
      "Do what thou will shall be the whole of the law" - Aleister Crowley

      "If you love me, obey my commandments" - Jesus Christ

      The Bible comes as a complete package. If we want to pluck verses out of context so make them mean what we want them to mean, if we want to ignore the passages that are inconvenient to our outlook, we should be intellectually honest enough to throw our Bibles in the trash and admit we are following Crowley and not Christ.

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      Quote Originally Posted by tango View Post
      Although I wouldn't dispute the assertion about people paying lip service - a daily prayer over a meal and maybe sporadic attendance at church - I'm not sure your original assertion about questioning parts of Scripture are well phrased at all. I agree we need to submit to the authority of Scripture but it's not inappropriate to seek to determine which aspects of Scripture were cultural and which are eternal.

      For example, you mentioned homosexuality. Lev 20:13 says that if a man sleeps with a man both have done something detestable and must be put to death. We use this verse today to condemn homosexuality but apparently only the prohibition applies and not the punishment. Lev 20:10 says that adultery is punishable by death but we don't expect that to apply any more. In any event Lev 20:23 says that the Israelites must not follow the customs of the land God is giving them - the people being driven out did those things. So at a stroke Lev 20:23 suggests that all the preceding verses apply to ancient Israel rather than the modern world.

      Of course the people who expect to pick Lev 20:13 from the collection of prohibitions and make a big deal out of it don't tend to worry too much about Lev 19:18 (not holding grudges), Lev 19:19 (not planting mixed seeds, or wearing clothes from mixed fiber), Lev 19:26 (not eating meat with blood in it), Lev 19:27 (not cutting the edges of your beard), Lev 19:28 (not tattooing yourself), Lev 19:32 (standing in the presence of the aged) and so on.

      On the topic of homosexuality in particular much is often made of the fact that a prohibition in the OT is backed by a prohibition in the NT. The trouble is that most of the prohibition in the NT comes from Paul, but Paul also commanded women to cover their heads if praying or prophesying (1Co 11) and most churches ignore that requirement. Many churches also ignore Paul's call that tongues should be paired with an interpretation (1Co 14:27-28) and later note that it is a disgrace for a woman to speak in church (1Co 14:35).

      Further instructions on the topic of sexual activity that are totally ignored today - Deu 22:23-24 says that if a man rapes a woman in town and she does not cry out she deserves to die. Then Deu 22:28-29 says that if a man is caught raping a virgin who isn't betrothed to someone all he has to do is pay fifty pieces of silver and marry her. Short of returning to a society where women are little more than the property of their father before becoming the property of their husband I'm not sure how we could obey this rule.

      Lev 15:19-24 places further demands on women. During a woman's monthly cycle anything she lies on or sits on is unclean, and anyone touching anything she lay on or sat on is unclean until evening.

      Hence, I don't think it's at all inappropriate to consider which verses of Scripture should be applied today. Unless someone obeys every single one of the rules in Leviticus it frequently comes across as little more than cherry-picking when they demand one rule be followed while others be ignored, especially since most people who do that show little to no process of reasoning as to which verses they choose to apply.


      Moving on to your comment about human rationalism. Is there something wrong with using human rationalism? Much of day-to-day life doesn't specifically require interaction with God. Much of day-to-day life is about grocery shopping, deciding whether it's worth passing a slower vehicle on the highway if our exit is in three miles, figuring whether it's better to get into town to run some errands today or tomorrow, deciding whether to ask this friend or that friend to watch our children so we can go out for dinner, and so on. Generally none of this requires specific guidance from God. Major life decisions are the sort of thing one would expect a Christian to seek divine guidance for, but the fact someone chooses their route to work based on Google's traffic indicators rather than divine guidance doesn't mean they live like an atheist.
      Who mentioned homosexuality?
      Tango, you have shared the Mosaic Law. If Israel were still under the Mosaic Covenant then all these laws would still apply today. This isn't a cultural construct.
      Secondly, God gave us minds to be wise. There is nothing wrong with seeking wisdom. James tells us to seek it. Solomon tells us to seek it.
      Paul also reminds us in Galatians 5 to walk in the Spirit, which means that we live moment by moment in fellowship with God. There is a duality in the Christian life, but many abandon the Spirit and seek their own path.

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      Quote Originally Posted by MennoSota View Post
      Who mentioned homosexuality?
      Tango, you have shared the Mosaic Law. If Israel were still under the Mosaic Covenant then all these laws would still apply today. This isn't a cultural construct.
      Secondly, God gave us minds to be wise. There is nothing wrong with seeking wisdom. James tells us to seek it. Solomon tells us to seek it.
      Paul also reminds us in Galatians 5 to walk in the Spirit, which means that we live moment by moment in fellowship with God. There is a duality in the Christian life, but many abandon the Spirit and seek their own path.
      Most do, mention hearing from God, or moving in the spirit and it is amazing that so called christians will rise up and try to crucify you yet that the is walk we are al called to. Problem is that as mentioned earlier by someone there is much lip service but no real depth in the Christian walk for most and that is a shame and it also shows me why scarcely any will be saved in the last days. To many are deaf and blind when it comes to the things of God
      Isaiah 40:31

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      Quote Originally Posted by MennoSota View Post
      Who mentioned homosexuality?
      You did, when you quoted Jen Hatmaker and her position on LGBTQ issues and then commented on "positions on sexuality and marriage"

      Tango, you have shared the Mosaic Law. If Israel were still under the Mosaic Covenant then all these laws would still apply today. This isn't a cultural construct.
      My point was that we must interpret Scripture through a relevant lens so that we don't get caught up in endless legalism. At the same time we must make sure we interpret Scripture wisely, becoming more Christlike by making ourselves more like Jesus rather than making Jesus more like us.

      Secondly, God gave us minds to be wise. There is nothing wrong with seeking wisdom. James tells us to seek it. Solomon tells us to seek it.
      Yes, I think we are partly in agreement here.

      Paul also reminds us in Galatians 5 to walk in the Spirit, which means that we live moment by moment in fellowship with God. There is a duality in the Christian life, but many abandon the Spirit and seek their own path.
      Of course we should walk in the Spirit, I'm not disputing that. I'm questioning your comments about people who use human rationalism. How does one make the commute to work in the Spirit, as opposed to making it using human rationalism? If Google tells me there's a huge tailback on my normal route I'll take a different route - you might call this human rationalism but it's basic common sense. If there is some reason God needs me stuck in that tailback God is quite capable of giving me a suitable sign but I would expect that to be the exception rather than the rule. Even in Paul's day it makes no sense to regard "walk in the Spirit" as meaning moment by moment requires some kind of interaction with God. If a 1st century fisherman wanted to eat he had to catch fish and most of the time that would happen by setting sail with his nets and hoping fish swam into them. Functionally speaking, his boat trip out to the fishing waters isn't all that different from you or I driving to work.

      How would you expect "walking in the Spirit" to look different to "walking in the flesh" during a mundane daily activity such as driving to work?
      "Do what thou will shall be the whole of the law" - Aleister Crowley

      "If you love me, obey my commandments" - Jesus Christ

      The Bible comes as a complete package. If we want to pluck verses out of context so make them mean what we want them to mean, if we want to ignore the passages that are inconvenient to our outlook, we should be intellectually honest enough to throw our Bibles in the trash and admit we are following Crowley and not Christ.

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      Quote Originally Posted by tango View Post
      You did, when you quoted Jen Hatmaker and her position on LGBTQ issues and then commented on "positions on sexuality and marriage"



      My point was that we must interpret Scripture through a relevant lens so that we don't get caught up in endless legalism. At the same time we must make sure we interpret Scripture wisely, becoming more Christlike by making ourselves more like Jesus rather than making Jesus more like us.



      Yes, I think we are partly in agreement here.



      Of course we should walk in the Spirit, I'm not disputing that. I'm questioning your comments about people who use human rationalism. How does one make the commute to work in the Spirit, as opposed to making it using human rationalism? If Google tells me there's a huge tailback on my normal route I'll take a different route - you might call this human rationalism but it's basic common sense. If there is some reason God needs me stuck in that tailback God is quite capable of giving me a suitable sign but I would expect that to be the exception rather than the rule. Even in Paul's day it makes no sense to regard "walk in the Spirit" as meaning moment by moment requires some kind of interaction with God. If a 1st century fisherman wanted to eat he had to catch fish and most of the time that would happen by setting sail with his nets and hoping fish swam into them. Functionally speaking, his boat trip out to the fishing waters isn't all that different from you or I driving to work.

      How would you expect "walking in the Spirit" to look different to "walking in the flesh" during a mundane daily activity such as driving to work?
      We interpret scripture as it is stated. We recognize that God's law for Israel required a specific legal action against a law that was broken. We recognize very clearly that God detests sexual sins, both homosexual and heterosexual. God has a very specific standard of action regarding sexual behavior. God does not change that standard in the church. What changes is the nation of Israel and the Mosaic Law. No nation, today, is held to the Mosaic Law therefore there is no legal judgment on such behaviors. There may be secular nation's today who have legal ramifications, but there is no legal documentation in the Church. God, however, does tell us through Paul, that sexual activity outside of the marriage between one man and one woman is a sinful activity, from which Christians should abstain.

      I believe that we seek what Paul sought, which is to recognize that every breath is a gift from God and we keep our minds focused on Christ in every interaction we have.
      This is an ideal that we shoot for. It is not something we always do. We are human. We get distracted. However, Jesus shows us the relationship he had with the Father. We can strive for such a relationship.

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