if we admit


that all that happens is god’s doing, i see no reason why anyone should be punished for doing what god has made them do. Jeff Bohlender in the liked post has written and I quote

God makes us what we are, places us where we are, and operates our operating, even if it still seems to us that we’re “doing” things. Growth in our experience happens when God brings us into conscious enjoyment of Him as the Source and Operator of all existence, of which we all are a part. Growth in faith comes through hearing and believing God, Who gives ears to hear and belief in the heart.

which i think is consistent with omnibenevolence as nothing would stop a god from achieving it ends, ie omnipotence and the said god would know all outcomes- omniscience-. Are religious people ready to accept the conclusions that must be drawn from the premise that everything that happens is god’s will?

About makagutu

As Onyango Makagutu I am Kenyan, as far as I am a man, I am a citizen of the world

149 thoughts on “if we admit

  1. judyt54 says:

    I think this is missing the point: If god makes us what we are, huffs us into being and then directs us in all of our minutiae, how does that explain atheists, agnostics, the doubtful among us, and the nine bajillion religions across the world, some of who worship rattlesnakes and some of whom have 7 headed dancing girls…does he direct them too, to have that kind of a belief system?
    And seeing as how he is by turns a benevolent loving god and a mean SOB, I’d say he’s pretty much bipolar and a narcissist as well. “You worship no other gods before me” makes it pretty clear about that one…

    Liked by 1 person

    • makagutu says:

      If Jeff is to be believed, god wants atheists too.
      Nietzsche said the gods laughed themselves to death when one of them said i am the only god.

      Liked by 3 people

    • Nan says:

      judy … judy … judy! You have it all wrong! It’s not “God” that’s behind the worship of rattlesnakes and 7-headed dancing girls.

      “God” is ONLY interested in the CHRISTIANS. Only their thoughts and prayers, their worship, their pleas for healing, their prayers for winning teams, their … etc., etc. All others are blasphemous copy-cats.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Barry says:

    I think very few religious people hold such a belief. Not even my son believes that, and he’s a creationist and is convinced that the Bible is an accurate account of history. Even though he believes God is omni-everything, he still believes in “free will”. Jeff Bohlender’s God appears to be a puppeteer pulling all the strings.

    Liked by 1 person

    • makagutu says:

      It appears to me, then, that most of them have not asked what are the implications of being an omnibenevolent being.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Barry says:

        Possibly. It’s not a topic I really want to get into with fundamentalists. Their explanations are too convoluted to make much sense of.

        However iin this part of the world believers in that kind of God don’t exist in large numbers. It seems to me that God is evolving into a concept closer to the pantheistic model or perhaps it’s becoming merged the the concept of mauri, which is the Māori concept of all things having a life force. Certainly the concept of God being some type of intelligent supernatural spirit being that is capable of manipulating the physical world has mostly disappeared. We’ve also had more than 60 years exposure to ideas such as those championed by Lloyd Geering and like thinkers. The non-realistic concept of God is alive and well

        Liked by 1 person

    • so, per this nitwit, there is no free will, directly contradicting his fellow christians, and this god gets its jollies from damning people through totally no fault of their own.

      I do love it when Christians directly contradict each other.

      Liked by 3 people

      • basenjibrian says:

        Which is why I “CARE” about religion. Christianity is offensive and wicked.

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      • Barry says:

        I love it when Christians contradict each other too, but what I mean by “love it” is possibly very different to what you mean. Just imagine what America would be like if every Christian was like the Westboro Baptists.

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        • makagutu says:

          Indeed.
          America has a special relationship with religion in the Christian majority countries

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        • most are far more similar than you might think, in my experience.

          at the base, they are all rooted in ignorance and fear.

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          • Barry says:

            “All” is a very sweeping claim. I live in a part of the world where two thirds of the population are non-Christian and less than half of the population hold to any religion at all, and where only around 10% of the population are what might be termed practicing Christians. We’ve also had the influence of Sir Lloyd Geering and like minded thinkers for over 50 years. There are more post-modern, progressive and secular Christians here than there are Fundamentalists. Don’t forget that both Fundamentalism and Evangelicalism arose in the US in the 19th century. They had little to no influence here until a century later. At the same time we have seen the rise of what might be called secular Christianity, and this has been just as influential, perhaps more, as Fundamentalism in this country. I understand (correct me if I’m wrong) that the influence of progressive, post-modern, and secular Christianity has had little influence in the US. As a consequence, our experiences are quite dissimilar.

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            • sorry, barry, but as soon as you use nonsense phrases like “secular christian” I can’t take you seriously.

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              • Barry says:

                That’s your prerogative. But I believe you are allowing Fundamentalists to define Christianity for you.

                I’m guessing you’d also object to terms such as Christian non-theism, which is also alive and well in this country. It’s not a concept we find hard to accept.

                The first paragraph in Wikipedia’s definition of secular theology offers a broad outline of what I mean by secular:

                Secular theology rejects the subtance dualism of modern religion, the belief in two forms of reality required by the belief in heaven, hell, and the afterlife. Secular theology can accommodate a belief in God–as many nature religions do–but as residing in this world and not separately from it.

                According to Lloyd Geering, God is a metaphor for, or the personification of, our highest ideals and values. It’s an opinion that I largely agree with.

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                • makagutu says:

                  I think Christianity had a number on most Americans & explains their relationship with the church.
                  Hopefully the fundamentalists will not have a lot of say in a future America

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                  • Barry says:

                    I think the level of religiosity in America now is about the same as it was here in the 1870s. Give them another 150 years and perhaps they’ll understand the true meaning of diversity within society – religion being but one aspect 🙂

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                    • makagutu says:

                      150 years may not be enough

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                    • Barry says:

                      You might be right. We had political leaders who were Jews, atheists and freethinkers in the latter part of the 19th century as well as those who were Christian, and for all but 6 months of this century, we’ve had either an atheist or agnostic as prime minister. The US still doesn’t appear to be ready for a non-Christian leader.

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                    • makagutu says:

                      The US is ready for any leader who promises to do magic for the economy. That’s the only thing that I think drives them; economy and war

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                • Barry, I let the bible define Christianity for me. Each Christian makes up their own nonsense, picking and choosing. To try to claim that one can be an atheist and still cling to the term Christian is simply silly.

                  Chrisitanity has no god that is part of this world.

                  Now, why do you think people have to cling to that term when just saying “I’m a decent person” is enough? Jesus Christ commands many disgusting things.

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                  • Barry says:

                    I let the bible define Christianity for me</em" how are you any different from the small subset of Christianity that make the very same claim? The only difference is that by using circular argument, they can lay claim to "because the Bible says so". Neither you nor I can use that excuse.

                    I believe you have your reasoning is back to front. It seems to me that rather than the Bible defining Christians, Christians, in all there various forms, define the Bible.

                    "Each Christian makes up their own nonsense, picking and choosing.” I have no issue with that and encourage it. However, if the person picking and choosing proclaims that the Bible is literally God’s Word, is without error and is a rulebook which must be followed, “cherry picking” becomes a accusation instead of a compliment.

                    Within my own faith tradition, the Bible has no authority. We acknowledge that it was written by fallible people just like us. Between us, at one end of the “Christian spectrum”, and the Westbro Baptists at the other, there are thousands of other understandings of what the Bible is. Why go along with an understanding of Bible as held by those at the WestBro Baptist end of the spectrum when you could have arbitrarily chosen any other point? And by insisting that that perspective of what the Bible is, and what being a Christian is, are you not being as one sided as they are?

                    To try to claim that one can be an atheist and still cling to the term Christian is simply silly.” That’s an opinion. That same phrase, and “that’s ridiculous!” was often used when, on my first trip to America in 1999, I was asked if I liked the taste of kiwi, and I explained that I had never tasted kiwi because it’s against the law to eat them in NZ. That law is still in effect although the penalty is now more severe.

                    Just as in the kiwi example above, it comes back to what one means by a word, in this case “Christian”. I find it rather strange that people critical of Christianity are willing to accept Westbro Baptists as being Christian on the grounds that members of that group claim to be Christian, yet will refuse to accept that same claim by someone who does not hold a theistic understanding of God.

                    Christianity has no god that is part of this world.” Are you not stuck on a now outdated idea of “God”? We may not like it, but the meaning of words change over time, and “God” is no exception. I and a great many others who claim to be religious are non-theists; someone who does not accept a theistic understanding of God. It’s time to accept that “God” can no longer be defined only as an omni-everything supreme being within the traditions of the Abrahamic religious traditions.

                    Now, why do you think people have to cling to that term when just saying “I’m a decent person” is enough?” When I was young, “being Christian” didn’t refer to specific beliefs, it referred to being a decent person. And in the generation before me, our state funded social welfare system was described as “practical Christianity”. These may be aspects peculiar to New Zealand – I don’t know elsewhere. This country has always had far more “cultural Christians” than “practicing Christians” and that still applies today even though only a third of the country claim a Christian affiliation. Whether you approve of it or not “being Christian” is as much being part of a social group with its practices and traditions as it is being part of a religious group.

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                    • Barry, we’ve been over this before. How did you find out about Christ if the bible has no authority?

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                    • Barry says:

                      It seems rather an odd question, but if you want to really know, I can’t help you. I can hazard a guess. Probably the same way I found out about the tooth fairy, father Christmas or that the earth revolves around the sun. They are simply part of the culture in which I’m immersed. How dis you find out, if it wasn’t that way?

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                    • and how did that culture find out?

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                    • Barry says:

                      I’m not sure where you’re going with this line of questioning. Are you referring to Jesus, the tooth fairy, father Christmas or that the earth revolves around the sun?

                      Very breifly:

                      The teachings of Jesus (assuming such a person actually existed} so impressed his early followers that they created a mythology around him. Given the era, it wasn’t particularly unusual.

                      Regarding the tooth fairy and father Christmas I don’t know, and at 4 50 in the morning I don’t have the inclination to find out.

                      If I remember correctly, wasn’t it Copernicus who came up with a theory that supported the idea that the earth revolves around the sun? I seem to remember that the publication of his theory significantly shortened his career.

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                    • Nan says:

                      Barry … just to let you know, I’m in your corner.

                      The thing that many don’t recognize/accept is that not everyone that attends church or has religious leanings has to be a full-blown, evangelistic, hell-preaching individual. Many simply live by the principles of the bible, rather than the rules.

                      Liked by 2 people

                    • Barry says:

                      Precisely. My understanding of religion is living by the principles or values the religion espouses. Not by obediently following a set of rules and accepting mythology as historical facts. I’m not sure why this is so difficult to grasp.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • makagutu says:

                      I think, because those who are loudest argue for among others a literal genesis and the bible as word of god to man, unchanged and unchanging for all time.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • makagutu says:

                      I think many have modified the principles of the bible to fit within the times. The verse that we shall not let a witch to live is in the bible, but we are not burning witches. We have tattoos and all. So I think people are adjusting their religion to their circumstances

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • all I’m seeing is dodging. Really, Barry, you can’t figure out that I’m talking about Jesus?

                      If you this is your MO, I’m out.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • makagutu says:

                      Barry has said he ain’t a Christian. I don’t think he would dodge a question on that subject.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • I know Barry isn’t a Christian. He is speaking about Christians.

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                    • Barry says:

                      I spend considerable effort trying to make my comments as unambiguous as possible, giving examples and analogies to help clarify things. I also attempt, not always successfully, to avoid using words that can carry emotional baggage (“woefully” is one such word that slipped through elsewhere in these comments) because I can never be sure if they may carry more significance than I intend.

                      Here’s why I wasn’t sure what you were/are referring to: Your first question was “How did you find out about Christ if the bible has no authority?” If you had simply asked “How did you find out about Jesus?” then the answer I gave is perfectly adequate. But you loaded the question, first by referring to Jesus as “Christ” and second by tacking on “if the bible has no authority“. What does that mean? Does it imply that we learn about things only from authoritative sources? Or does it refer specifically to your reference to Jesus as “Christ”. If it’s the latter, then my best guess would be in my early teens at Bible study, which my mother encouraged me to attend in an attempt to improve my social skills. But as the word “Christ” holds no special meaning to me, I can’t say for sure.

                      Then, following my reply, you ask “and how did that culture find out. My first understanding of that question was how did the mythology around Jesus begin, but perhaps what you really meant was why or how Christianity became imbedded in what we refer to as Western culture. If it’s the latter, then “find out” is no more than a euphemism for “imposed” when a Roman Emperor made Christianity the state religion.

                      You see, without some indication of where your line of questioning is headed, I can’t be sure what you are truly seeking. In this regard, saying you’re talking about Jesus isn’t really that much more helpful, apart perhaps that it’s an indication that you think I might hold some specific beliefs about the guy. Is this where you’re heading?

                      And because you haven’t made your questions sufficiently unambiguous for me, you accuse me of dodging. That would be much like me accusing you of deliberately misunderstanding what I have written because of your dislike of religion. For the record, while that thought did momentarily cross my mind, it’s not something I would ever accuse you of. I prefer to think that our completely different viewpoints about religion makes it very difficult, but not impossible, to find common ground around to which we start any discussion.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • you read far too much into what I wrote. I am “truly seeking” what I write. there is no hidden agenda that you seem to think I’m up to.

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                    • Barry says:

                      What I mean by “loaded” is that many words or phrases come with “strings attached” that contain shades of meaning other than the direct meaning. For example may imply a level of derision or contempt without directly saying so. Most people can instinctively read any “hidden message” implied. Similarly, they employ it without realising they are doing it. I can’t do either. Seventy years of put downs because I fail to do so does comes at a cost. Mind you, communication in written form is less stressful than face to face where the use of body language and voice intonation come into play as well. I’m “blind” to most of it.

                      I’m not so blind as to not realise that you have a negative attitude to religion and Christianity in particular as do many, probably most, who frequent this blog but to what degree and whether or not it carries over into those who are religious I’m not able to ascertain. Hence caution, not belief in a hidden agenda.

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                    • “Most people can instinctively read any “hidden message” implied. Similarly, they employ it without realizing they are doing it.”

                      that’s why I like a written medium, I do not write anything but what I intend to say. That’s why I love a large vocabulary so I can be precise.

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                  • makagutu says:

                    Club you would agree that even among Christians there’s no agreement about who a true™ Christian is. There are many who think Ken ham is a joke or that JW are a cult & I don’t know what to say about Mormons.
                    And apologetics arose to try to reconcile these differences and our lived experiences

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                    • oh heck yes. Christians have no agreement on what makes a Christian and have no agreement on the most basic thing of their religion: what morals this god wants.

                      I will have to say that the book of mormon is probably the funniest of the “holy” books. It reads like a bad sword and sorcery story.

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                    • Barry says:

                      Sorry to butt in to this conversation, but reading it makes me think that you and I have been talking at cross purposes. You say “Christians have no agreement on what makes a Christian”. Isn’t that exactly what I have been saying all along? The most significant difference seems to be that you draw the line at non-theist Christians whereas I find that distinction artificial. Is that somewhere near the mark?

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                    • I read that you want christian to be meaningless. I may be wrong.

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                    • makagutu says:

                      Not him. And I don’t think that’s the case he is making. Not having a fixed definition and meaningless I think mean different things

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                    • I can understand why you’d think that. For instance, there are multiple meanings for the word “religious”, but they depend vastly on context. If we are talking about belief in magic, we mean a religion in that way. If we say that I’m religious about taking a shower every day, it changes.

                      The problem I have with people allowing anything to mean Christianity is that it is a very definite thing with a very definite source. I get that from it being a proper noun and not just a regular one. To declare that anyone who follows the golden rule, and is basically humane is Christian seems to allow Christianity to claim something that, at its base, it isn’t.

                      I am happy to concede that my view isn’t the common one.

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                    • makagutu says:

                      I don’t think even the source is definite. Did it begin in Rome? Palestine? Was there a real Jesus or can whoever wrote Paul’s letters be responsible? Maybe the only thing we could say is it refers to followers of Christ but even this is not definite.

                      Of course, I get your point too, that we can’t define it to meaninglessness.

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                    • Barry says:

                      I want “Christian” to be meanness? Why? It’s not as if I am one. I simply want the word recognised by how it is used, and not by an outdated understanding of what it was several hundred years ago. I’ve already offered definition that approximates the current usage as I see Christianity today. I’ll concede its based on my experience here in Aotearoa New Zealand and may not reflect the situation in America, but at some time in the future it will.

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                    • Ron says:

                      Hi Barry. Apologies for butting into the conversation.

                      The Greek translation for the word Christian found in Acts 11:26 is “follower of Christ (i.e. the Messiah, Anointed one)”.

                      Would you concur with that definition?

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                    • Barry says:

                      That was probably an appropriate definition 2000 years ago, but it’s inadequate today. Even the concept of “Christ” has taken on various shades of meaning. Some people distinguish between a “historical Christ” and a “living Christ” for example. And are terms such as “Anointed one” literal or symbolic? Even if they were understood in a literal way back then, should we still do so?

                      Take for example the sun. We now know that the earth rotates on its axis and that the sun does not literally rise and set as once believed, but we have appropriated that belief as a metaphor to describe the appearance and disappearance beyond the horizon.

                      Somehow, some Christians and non-Christians want to think that Christianity is somehow fixed in form for “eternity”.

                      It’s quite evident that it has gone through many metamorphoses since its inception. While I can understand the intrepidation of some Christians over the current metamorphosis, I am surprised by the reaction of some non-Christians.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Ron says:

                      I think you may be receiving pushback from Christians and non-Christians alike because your definition of Christianity is ambiguous.
                      The wikipedi entry defines Christianty as:

                      . . . an Abrahamic monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. Its adherents, known as Christians, believe that Jesus is the Christ, whose coming as the messiah was prophesied in the Hebrew Bible, called the Old Testament in Christianity, and chronicled in the New Testament.

                      And further down it states:

                      The central tenet of Christianity is the belief in Jesus as the Son of God and the Messiah (Christ). Christians believe that Jesus, as the Messiah, was anointed by God as savior of humanity and hold that Jesus’ coming was the fulfillment of messianic prophecies of the Old Testament. The Christian concept of messiah differs significantly from the contemporary Jewish concept. The core Christian belief is that through belief in and acceptance of the death and resurrection of Jesus, sinful humans can be reconciled to God, and thereby are offered salvation and the promise of eternal life.

                      To reject these core beliefs and still call oneself a Christian is the equivalent of calling yourself a Muslim but claiming you don’t follow the Koran or believe in Allah or that Mohamed even existed, and makes things very confusing for those who hold to the traditional definition of what those terms mean.

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                    • Ron says:

                      Mak, could you please fix the first quote in my comment by replacing the period after the word blockquote with a closing angle bracket (>). Thanks.

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                    • Barry says:

                      It’s not my definition. It’s a description of reality. The Wikipedia entry sounds very much like the description of Christianity that any fundamentalist would be happy to agree with. Its also consistent with what was the almost universally held beliefs by Christians until the enlightenment.

                      I say almost universally because some Christian faith traditions don’t hold to the concept of humankind being sinful in nature and the very idea of substitutionary atonement is distasteful. That’s been the position of Quakers for almost 400 years.

                      So if the Wikipedia entry is correct the Quakers have never been Christian. Yet mainstream Christian denominations want Quakers to be involved in interdenominational institutions to the extent that they will insert special exemption clauses to get around statements of faith that such institutions typically have. Mainstream denominations recognise Quakers as Christian even though we don’t hold to what Wikipedia states is _the_ core Christian doctrine.

                      And what do Quakers say? We don’t claim to be Christian, however we acknowledge our Christian roots.

                      The definition of Christian I have given elsewhere in these comments reflects the current situation as it is in NZ, and the majority of Christians in this country would find it acceptable.

                      The reality is that Christian belief has been evolving at an increasingly rapid rate over the last century or so. Here in NZ that became very apparent in the 1960s when Lloyd Geering rose to prominence and conservative elements have been in battle with liberal and progressive elements ever since.

                      There is a reason why Geering was awarded this nation’s highest honour and that wouldn’t have come about if there was strong opposition to his ideas.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Ron says:

                      Let me ask you this: from your standpoint, what unites those who subscribe to the Wikipedia definition of Christianity with those who don’t? That is to say, what key things unite them under the Christian banner?

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                    • Barry says:

                      There is no Christian Banner, but see to my suggested definition of Christian in the last paragraph of this comment

                      What I find interesting about this “discussion” is that it’s almost entirely one way. It’s beginning to feel more like question time at a press conference. I get asked a question. I reply. I get asked a question. I reply. Rinse and repeat. None of the points I raise are directly responded to, and not one of the questions I’ve raised have been responded to either.

                      How about someone attempt to respond to some of the points raised or questions posed in my reply to basenjibrian. Then I’ll expand what I mean by “nothing”.

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                    • Ron says:

                      I can empathize with the frustration of having to field multiple comments from multiple people, but please note that it’s not my intent to put you on the hot seat so much as it is to gain a better understanding of your position.

                      As I mentioned earlier, your definition of Christianity is confusing to those who adhere to the more traditional one.

                      You define the word Christian as “a person who finds meaning and/or value in their own interpretation of the message of Jesus as presented in the Christian Bible” and express agreement with Lloyd Geering’s opinion that God is “a metaphor for, or the personification of, our highest ideals and values.”

                      But just how inclusive can we make the term Christian before you cross the boundary between Christian and non-Christian? Because Muslims find value in the message of Jesus but don’t identify as Christians. Ditto for many other religious beliefs. Which is why I asked what things those who hold to the traditional definition have in common with those who don’t. If the answer is “nothing” then why identify as a Christian if you reject most or all of the traditional beliefs?

                      To put it in context, imagine standing up at a vegan conference and saying where you’re from people who eat meat can also identify as vegans and going on to say that you define the word vegan as “a person who finds meaning or value in their own interpretation of the vegan philosophy” and consider veganism a metaphor for the personification of our highest dietary ideals and values — a definition that clearly runs counter to the conventionally-held definition of veganism, which promotes a lifestyle that excludes the consumption of all animal products and seeks to avoid the exploitation of animals as much as possible.

                      I submit that it’s reasonable to say that you belong to a group with which you disagree on certain issues. But it’s quite another to say that you’re a member of a group with which you have little in common.

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                    • Barry says:

                      The flaw in your analogy is, as I see it, that veganism is a practice, just as Quakerism is. There are however, multiple reasons why one may be a vegan – philosophical, religious, social setting, family history, health, taste preferences, and many others, just as there are many different reasons why individuals become Quakers. It’s the practice of being a vegan (or Quaker) that makes one so.

                      As I have made clear, my attempt at creating a definition of Christianity was just that: an attempt, a starting point. It’s not meant to be definitive. Over on the Religious Tolerance Website, they use this definition:
                      Anyone who seriously, thoughtfully, sincerely, prayerfully considers themselves to be a Christian is considered a Christian for the purpose of our essays.” I can go along with that definition. Can you?

                      I think part of the issue is that there is a misperception of what religion is – the chief one being that a religion is defined by a set of beliefs. In a presentation to NZ Sea of Faith, Lloyd Geering quoted W. Cantwell Smith (emphasis is mine):
                      The idea that believing is religiously important turns out to be a modern idea…the great modern heresy of the church is the heresy of believing. Not of believing this or that but of believing as such. The view that to believe is of central significance—this is an aberration.

                      Geering then goes on to say (Emphasis is mine):
                      To put the matter bluntly and over simplistically we may say that in pre-modern times people put their faith in God; to day, in contrast, too many put their faith in beliefs, such as the belief that the Bible cannot be in error. This modern error of equating faith with holding certain beliefs began to develop in the 19th century. That is why Lewis Carroll poked fun at it in 1865 when he wrote Alice in Wonderland. There he portrayed Alice as saying, “I can’t possibly believe that!”. The Queen replied,”Perhaps you haven’t had enough practice. Why, I have believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast”. To identify faith with the holding of a certain number of beliefs which come to us from the past actually makes a mockery of Christian faith and reduces it to the schoolboy’s definition of faith—’Faith is believing things you know ain’t true’.
                      If you interested in reading the full presentation, see Faith and Doubt On The Margins (approximately 6,600 words)

                      Returning to the Christian definition as presented in Wikipedia: If for the sake of argument, we take the definition at face value, and any religious tradition that does not adhere to what Wikipedia defines as the core belief is therefore not Christian, then we run into the elephant in the room that neither you, nor clubschadenfreude nor basenjibrian can see, even though I have pointed it out on several occasions.

                      That definitions must exclude Quakers as we do not adhere to that belief. In fact most (if not all) consider it abhorrent. It flies in the face of our belief in the absolute equality of all humankind, and that humanity is not “fallen” – we’re not separated from God through sin: we don’t require salvation.

                      Fair enough, you might say. If you ask Quakers whether or not they are Christian, the most likely response will be “It depends on what you mean by Christian”, followed by a description of their own personal beliefs and repeated reminders that is their personal belief and shouldn’t be taken as representative of all or even most Friends.

                      Okay, so here’s the Elephant in the room: Mainstream Christian denominations view Friends as being part of the Christian community and encourage Friends’ participation. As I have already demonstrated Inter-church organisations will change rules of membership and decision making processes accommodate Quakers.

                      On top of that, almost every classification of religious traditions places Quakers very firmly under the Christian banner. According to Statistics NZ, I and every Quaker in this country is a Christian, whereas, according to the Wikipedia definition we don’t qualify as Christians.

                      To summarise: Most Christians believe we’re Christian, Wikipedia’s definition of Christian excludes us, but their entry for Quakers describes us as historically Christian It’s not as if we’re new on the block and therefore misunderstood. We’ve been around for more than 350 years. So my question to you is: how can Quakers be part of the Christian community if they don’t fit the Wikipedia definition of Christian?

                      I have no position on whether or not the Religious Society of Friends are Christian, but clearly Wikipedia and mainstream Christianity are at odds when it comes to Friends. The same must also apply to other traditions that have evolved from or out of Christianity. Another example might be the Unitarian Universalists – two Christian philosophies that have combined but now considered by most Christian denominations to have “left the faith” and yet they hold beliefs very similar to Quakers but their services resemble mainstream Christian services, while quaker worship is in silence. Hopefully now you can see where I’m coming from.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Ron says:

                      Sure, I’ll readily concede that my analogy isn’t perfect; but my intent was to point out how non-sensical it would be for meateaters to claim they were vegans given that their diet is diametrically opposed to the values that veganism promotes. I also agree that those who put their beliefs into action are more genuine than those who merely pay lip service to their beliefs. And because I don’t live there, I’ll grant you the benefit of the doubt that Christian sects in NZ are more tolerant towards one other than they are over here on this side of the globe.

                      Nonetheless, the Religious Tolerance article that you linked to states that ~20% of its feedback is negative, not only in regards to its definition of Christianity, but also for its use of the BCE/CE date format instead of the conventional BC/AD format. Moreover, it’s very likely that even the 80% positive feedback rate is overstated because those already predisposed to promoting religious tolerance are more likely to visit their site and leave positive comments than those who don’t.

                      So the elephant in the room is Christianity’s problem, because deciding who may call themselves a Christian and which interpretation of the scriptures is correct is something that professing Christians must sort out for themselves. And I think Mr. Geering’s assertion that “the idea that believing is religiously important turns out to be a modern idea” is wrong because splits over differences in belief can already be found in the book of Acts and the epistles of Paul, and the intensity of those differences quickly escalates after Christianity becomes the state religion.

                      Like

                    • makagutu says:

                      I think your final paragraph hits the bull’s eye. The problem is Christianity’s own

                      Like

                    • Barry says:

                      I think the graphic in this Pew Research tweet goes a long way to explain why you and I will never see eye to eye on religion.

                      For a country that claims to champion religious freedom, The USA falls somewhat short. Government restrictions on religion are described as “MODERATE”, but even more telling is that social hostilities involving religion are described as “HIGH”. So the USA is ranked the same as Mexico, Kenya and Italy when it comes to religious freedom. Canada is described as “LOW” and “MODERATE” for government restrictions and social hostilities respectively. However, New Zealand is described as “LOW” for both. Our attitude towards religion and what religion means is about as different from the USA understanding as chalk is to cheese.

                      Like

                    • makagutu says:

                      Our low religious ranking can only be blamed on Abrahamic religions. African traditional religions are the most tolerant

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                    • makagutu says:

                      Ron, even the first Christians if there ever were such didn’t agree on much of Christianity. Was a Jesus a man-god or spirit and this was the subject of at least one church council.

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                    • there is nothing “outdated” by the word used by million today just as I have indicated.

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                    • basenjibrian says:

                      I actually am more sympathetic with “club” here. What are these universal principles that Christianity uniquely defines? Most seem to be vague and general principles evolved over generations among many if not most human societies to enable us quarrelsome naked apes to live with each other, some more successfully than others. Christians cannot agree among themselves about these core principles, and as was noted upthread, there are some fundamentally nasty ideas at the heart of the religion.

                      Like

                    • makagutu says:

                      That’s the same case Barry is making that Christianity is so fluid it is impossible to tell what it really means. And if you get down to it, no two Christians are likely to tell you they have the same beliefs or doctrine

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Barry says:

                      Well, at least one person gets the gist of what I want to say 🙂

                      And if you get down to it… You are correct. There’s a Quaker saying that goes like this: “Ask five Quakers, and you’ll get six answers”.

                      Like

                    • Barry says:

                      As I read it, it is clubschadenfreude who is attempting to define Christianity. I think that’s a bit like trying to herd cats or pushing water uphill. Having said that, I have made an attempt to elsewhere in these comments to describe my understanding of Christianity. But please keep in mind it is an approximation of my understanding, not an understanding I wish to impose on anyone else.

                      I think too, that it’s a mistake to believe there are “universal principles that Christianity uniquely defines”. Certainly, many Christians I know acknowledge they are Christian due to “accident of birth” and had their circumstances been different, they may, have adopted a different faith or none at all. They remain Christian because, for them, the values they hold most dearly can be found in their understanding of the “Christian message”, mainly because that is the tradition they are most familiar with.

                      Lastly, “nasty ideas” aren’t confined to Christianity or to religion in general. Living in a nation where only a third of the population claim to be Christian, in it myriad of forms, and less than half the population claim any religious affiliation, I can assure you that “nastiness” afflicts both the “faithful” and “unfaithful” in equal measure. They just use different “hooks” to hang it on.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • makagutu says:

                      In deed. Nastiness is, I believe, part of who we are.
                      How else do you explain people hoarding tissue paper or Dettol antiseptic?

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Barry says:

                      Apologetics is an attempt to reconcile differences? You’re being very generous. It seems to me that apologetics is more an attempt to “prove” (a) that Christianity is true, and (b) that a particular “brand” of Christianity is more true than any other. Perhaps what you are referring to is the ecumentical movement?

                      Like

                    • makagutu says:

                      You are right.
                      It’s more often to show that Christianity is right and that the critics are wrong to question it.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Barry says:

                      Yep. Have you ever visited the Christian Apologetics & Research Ministry? Now there’s apologetics in action. They even have a Cut and Paste Information page so that you can “prove” their brand of Christianity is true without taking your mind out of neutral gear.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • makagutu says:

                      No, I have not visited that site before.

                      Like

                    • Barry says:

                      It’s a site that makes many Christians here cringe in embarrassment.

                      Like

                    • makagutu says:

                      They examine Roman Catholicism which is interesting

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Barry says:

                      I don’t know enough about Roman Catholicism to have an opinion about the accuracy of their examination, but if the “examination” of Quakerism is anything to go by, it will be wildly inaccurate. They even attempt to define a consultative committee as an (un)official head office/authority. I think they can’t conceive of an organisation that has no hierarchy, leaders, or any form of authority, so they’ve made one up.

                      Like

              • makagutu says:

                Club I think you are not being fair to Barry because secular Christianity has its believers even in America expounded by people like bishop Spong(?)

                Liked by 1 person

                • I was. I’m sorry.

                  However, Spong still seems to want a god. This is one of his “twelve points for reform”: Theism, as a way of defining God, is dead. So most theological God-talk is today meaningless. A new way to speak of God must be found

                  this seems to be nothing more than trying to pretend that one can rehabilitate Christianity by calling god something different.

                  If you want to do that, then drop the term Christianity. It has nothing to do with that religion.

                  Like

                • oh if you want to see what Spong says: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Shelby_Spong

                  it reads to me of a Christian who wants to be able to claim he’s not “one of THOSE Christians” but still wants the term.

                  Liked by 1 person

                  • makagutu says:

                    You are right but at least him and a few others are trying to make Christianity relevant to the times we live in

                    Liked by 1 person

                  • Barry says:

                    Reading an entry in Wikipedia is scarcely adequate to comprehend anything other than the very basics of what Bishop Spong or Don Cupitt or Sir Lloyd Geering or Karen Armstrong or a host of others are saying. And I don’t mean by that that they are all saying the same thing. I think what they all have in common is that they convinced that Christianity is in need of reform if it is to remain relevant. However they all have different approaches as to what that means and how it should be undertaken.

                    As for your “one of THOSE Christians” comment, unless you have actually read several of his publications, that is out of place. He wants changes within the entire Christian religion. I see no evidence that the label “Christian” is particularly important to him apart from the fact that it is the label given to the religion he wants to reform. And like many others before him, his desire is to reform an existing belief system, not create a new one. Whether or not he and others will succeed questionable.

                    Geering is resigned to the fact that the “Church” as a whole has become largely irrelevant, particularly here in NZ. Yet through the length of this country there are an increasing number of congregations within all the mainstream denominations that hold the ideals that Geering has been championing for half a century. Are they still Christian? Rather that hold stubbornly to a centuries old definition that is now inadequate, why not allow the term to change with the times and current usage, as have so many other words we use every day?

                    Liked by 1 person

                    • decrying a wiki entry just because it is a wiki entry is a common tactic for those who don’t like what the entry says.

                      if the term Christianity isn’t important, then again why use a corrupted title?

                      Like

                    • Barry says:

                      Come on! I’m not decrying a Wikipedia entry. I’m saying that a typical Wikipedia entry is simply not capable of providing a comprehensive and in depth coverage of a topic. Nor can any encyclopedia. It might be a good place to start, to get an introduction, but if one wants to gain an in depth knowledge, it’s not a good place to stop.

                      Assuming that I don’t like the entry when I did not make such a claim is, I think, a case of allowing your emotion to get the better of you.

                      I’m sorry, I don’t understand your last question. Why use what corrupt title?

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • the title of Christianity

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                    • Barry says:

                      There are Christians who believe in a young earth. There are Christians who don’t.
                      There are Christians who believe in the virgin birth. There are Christians who don’t.
                      There are Christians who belive in the divinity of Christ. There are Christians who don’t.
                      There are Christians who believe in substitutionary atonement. There are Christians who don’t.

                      In other words there’s no such thing as a true Christian. Beliefs evolve over decades, generations and centuries. It’s not feasible to say a set of beliefs is Christian one day but not the next. Christian beliefs are too varied to be shoe horned into a definition that suits your preconceptions. Let’s face it the earliest followers of Jesus would recognise neither your understanding of Christianity nor my unxerstanding. Beliefs evolve. Get over it. It’s evolution, not corruption.

                      Like

                    • makagutu says:

                      Then there are Jehova Witnesses!

                      Like

                    • if one doesn’t believe in the divinity of Christ then they cling to a word that has no meaning. With this vagueness, there is no meaning to the term Christian at all.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Barry says:

                      I disagree that the term “Christian” has no meaning. I would say that your definition is inadequate. What you define as Christian is a just a subset. There are some terms that can not be adequately defined in a sentence or two, and I think that “Christian” would be one of those.

                      Here’s an analogy that might be helpful. Non-Kiwis, will describe a haka (if they have heard of the word at all) as a New Zealand, or Māori war dance, or an aggressive chant performed by the All Blacks before a rugby game. What’s more, online dictionaries have similar descriptions:

                      Dictionary.com defines it as (1) a ceremonial Maori war dance that involves chanting. (2) a similar performance by a sports team before a game, especially in New Zealand Rugby.

                      TheFreeDictionary.com and YourDictionary.com similarly define it as (1) A Maori war dance accompanied by chanting. (2) A similar choreographed chant performed by a Rugby team, especially one from New Zealand.

                      dictionary.cambridge.org defines it as a traditional war dance of the Maori people of New Zealand, sometimes performed before a sports event by the New Zealand team

                      merriam-webster.com describes the haka as a Maori posture dance accompanied by rhythmic chanting

                      Given the above definitions, I think any reasonable non-Kiwi would be confused on learning that the haka is frequently performed at welcoming and farewell ceremonies, and especially at weddings and funerals, and not just by Māori. Perhaps the thought that Kiwis are a nasty lot might be one reasonable conclusion that could be drawn based on the definitions above.

                      I’m not going to define haka here but in the examples I’ve just given, the haka is most definitely not a war dance. Essentially all the definitions above, with the exception of Merriam-Webster, exclude many forms of haka and particularly those that are of social and cultural importance in the lives of many New Zealanders. Therefore they are erroneous in that they are describing just a subset of what the haka is. None of the definitions make any mention of the social, cultural and spiritual significance of the haka to almost all Kiwis and therefore, all are inadequate in their definitions.

                      The same is true when it comes to defining Christianity. The definition you hold to is inadequate, woefully so, in my opinion. If I were to attempt to give a single sentence definition of “Christian” it would be along the lines of “a person who finds meaning and/or value in their own interpretation of the message of Jesus as presented in the Christian Bible”. Not perfect by any means, but I believe a more inclusive definition that the one you subscribe to.

                      Like

                    • you seem to be trying to be making Christian so vague as to be meaningless. if it doesn’t mean worshippign the character Jesus Christ, then what should it be?

                      Just being a nice person doesn’t make one a Christian. Thanks to the known description of Jesus, the bible, that is entirely not the case.

                      Culture got the idea of Jesus from one source. Then humans decided to ignore the parts of the description.

                      Like

                    • makagutu says:

                      But I don’t think that’s Barry’s making. It is what it is. There are Christians like SDAs who don’t agree with the others on Christmas among other things. So the vagueness is not Barry’s making.

                      Many people, for example in my village got the idea of god son from the colonialist. Had care not been taken to spread it, we would be praying only on occasion.

                      Like

                    • I can definitely agree that the vagueness is not Barry’s making. It doesn’t help to encourage it.

                      Like

                  • basenjibrian says:

                    Exactly! Certainly a more comfortable kind of Christianity than the prosperity gospel preachers and the gay bashers, but if one waters it down to the point Spong does (or, forgive me, Barry), then what is the point? I mean, meet with your friends in a tea house or bar (until the governor closes all the bars out of virus fears) once a week! Admittedly, of course, the church is often the prettiest building in town, but if one does not really believe in a concrete “god”, why go through all the contortions?

                    Liked by 1 person

                • basenjibrian says:

                  I, like Club, am also struggling with “Secular Christianity” When you water it down to the point of not believing in a Christ, what is the point? Church buildings are pretty and some Christians are good at organizing relief efforts?

                  Even the vast panoply of Christian sects still have a Christ at their center? Although the Mormon Christ is quite different in fundamental conception than the Kenneth Copeland Christ.

                  Ahhhhhh. I got it. Barry’s religion is HOMEOPATHIC CHRISTIANITY! Diluted, and shaken and stirred in that special 19th century homeopathic way so that no molecule of “religion” is even left in this “Secular Christianity”

                  Like

                  • makagutu says:

                    But Barry is not a Christian. He only agrees with the ideas expressed by people like Geering.

                    Like

                    • basenjibrian says:

                      forgive me if I am incorrect, but Barry has in the past referred to himself as a “Quaker”. From The Source of All Knowledge:

                      Theology[edit]

                      Quakers’ theological beliefs vary considerably. Tolerance of dissent widely varies among yearly meetings.[84] Most Friends believe in continuing revelation: that God continuously reveals truth directly to individuals. George Fox, an “early Friend”, said, “Christ has come to teach His people Himself.”[22] Friends often focus on trying to hear God. As Isaac Penington wrote in 1670, “It is not enough to hear of Christ, or read of Christ, but this is the thing—to feel him to be my root, my life, and my foundation…”[85] Quakers reject the idea of priests, believing in the priesthood of all believers. Some express their concept of God using phrases such as “the inner light”, “inward light of Christ”, or “Holy Spirit”.

                      See also: Friends United Meeting, Evangelical Friends Church International, and Central Yearly Meeting of Friends

                      Diverse theological beliefs, understandings of the “leading of the Holy Spirit”, and statements of “faith and practice” have always existed among Friends.[86] Due in part to the emphasis on the immediate guidance of the Holy Spirit, Quaker doctrines have only sometimes been codified as statements of faith, confessions or theological texts; those that do exist include the Letter to the Governor of Barbados (Fox, 1671),[87] An Apology for the True Christian Divinity (Barclay, 1678),[88] A Catechism and Confession of Faith (Barclay, 1690),[89] The Testimony of the Society of Friends on the Continent of America (adopted jointly by all orthodox yearly meetings in U.S., 1830),[90] the Richmond Declaration of Faith (adopted by Five Years Meeting, 1887),[91] and Essential Truths (Jones and Wood, adopted by Five Years Meeting, 1922).[92] As a public statement of faith, most yearly meetings publish their own Book of Discipline, which expresses Christian discipleship within the experience of Friends in that yearly meeting.

                      This is pretty…Christian…to me.

                      Now, Barry may well be a https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nontheist_Quakers

                      Which I am guessing is his position. But that is very much a minority position even within Quakers, no? I am still struggling with “secular Christian” even as I acknowledge the many benefits of churches in societies. 🙂

                      Like

                    • makagutu says:

                      Yes, Barry is a non-theist Quaker.
                      A secular Christian is one who is at crossroads. Maybe they feel non-religion is not for them.

                      Like

                    • Barry says:

                      You see, that’s the problem when you look up an entry and make some (perhaps not unreasonable, but nevertheless inaccurate) assumptions. There is no authority or controlling body within Quakerism. There is no official Quaker website, nor could there ever be one. Every meeting is independent, and “theology” varies as much between meetings as it does between individuals. You need to understand the difference between programmed and unprogrammed meetings, between evangelical, liberal and conservative meetings. None of the various forms of Quakerism reflect accurately the beliefs or practices of the founders. However all “branches” openly acknowledge that.

                      For example Liberal forms of Quakerism continue with unprogrammed meetings (sitting in silence unless “moved” to speak), have no pastors, no hieratical structure and believe that God/the Light/inner conscience/whatever you understand that to be, is the ultimate source of authority; than any book including the Bible. We are opposed to creeds or statements of faith in any form, as were the founders and we don’t proselytise. We have a strong sense of equality and egalitarianism and like the founders have proclaimed the equality of the sexes. On the other hand, our understanding of God and theology in general has evolved over time to be quite distinct from that of the founders. For us “theology” is largely thought of as “notions” and not some form of “truth”. No one is asked about their religious beliefs when application for membership is taken. Christian, Jew, Muslim, Buddhist, pagan, pantheist, agnostic, atheist and more can be found in the membership.

                      Meanwhile, evangelical Quakers have taken a different path. They now differ little from many evangelical churches in practice and theology. They are hieratical, including relationship between the sexes, have pastors, hymns, sermons, vocal prayer, creeds, statements of faith and a prescribed theology, including their understanding of the Bible – all things the founders disapproved of. They even refer to themselves as a church, and worship in church buildings – something liberal Quakers don’t do.

                      Quaker meetings in Aotearoa New Zealand are liberal and unprogrammed as they are in Australia, South Africa, the United Kingdom and Europe, Asia and on the eastern seaboard of North America. Evangelical Quakerism arose in the USA (hardly a surprise given America’s fascination with religion) and then spread to the rest of North and South America and also to Africa, especially the eastern regions. Numerically, a little over 80% of Quakers belong to programmed evangelical meetings/churches while around 15% belong to unprogrammed liberal meetings. There’s around 300,000 Quakers world wide, with over 100,000 affiliated to the (evangelical) Friends Church in Kenya.

                      One “principle” that liberal Quakers hold to is the concept of “continuing revelation” which broadly means that our understanding in all things including religion change in the light of experience and new knowledge: What is “true” today may not be “true” tomorrow; what is “true” to me may not be “true” to you.

                      Quakerism as practiced in NZ is about as similar to Kenyan Quakerism as Buddhism is to the practices of Westboro Baptists, and yet we can still find aspects that we have in common.

                      For your edification or amusement, here is what the NZ cults website has to say about Quakers in New Zealand:
                      Danger One of the three main branches of Quakers (formally known as the Religious Society of Friends), along with Conservative Friends and Evangelical Friends. Liberal Friends are a distinct minority of Quakers worldwide but form the majority of Quakers in New Zealand and are by far the most likely to be encountered in this country. They are regarded by many Quakers worldwide as having left the faith, as they (as a group) deny all the fundamentals of the Christian faith. According to a clerk from the Conservative Friends (overseas) “Liberals are an abhorrent group who should NOT use the label Quaker as they deny our historical Christian Faith.” (His emphasis.) For example, the doctrines of Jesus’ deity and the virgin birth are nonessential and not accepted as fact. The idea of sin and therefore the need for salvation is also not accepted, and it is possible for even atheists to be Liberal Friends. As a result of this there is wide variance in what individual Liberal Friends believe, and it is quite possible that many are genuine Christians – hence it should be emphasised the Danger rating here refers to the group, not the individuals in it. (There are many fine individuals who are Liberal Friends.) Since the Liberal Friends itself gives the appearance of being compatible with or a denomination of Christianity it qualifies as a Christian cult. It should be noted it does not use mind control, so is not a mind control cult, and is not understood to be sociologically harmful.

                      Or you might find this link “helpful”:
                      http://www.christiandoctrine.com/quakers-are-they-christian-or-are-they-members-of-a-cult.

                      Like

    • basenjibrian says:

      religion tends to interfere with one’s ability to think logically and coherently.

      Like

  3. Ron says:

    But I thought God gave us free will?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. john zande says:

    What an absolutely miserable existence this man (Jeff) sees.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. grogalot says:

    The believers believe that God knows and controls everything, but free will is what they use to declare personal responsibility so God gets off the hook for all of the bad sh!T. They really are sick. GROG

    Liked by 1 person

  6. shelldigger says:

    So… If I’m a true believer, and I rob a bank with the intent of giving the dog some of the $, is that a bad thing?

    These people make my head hurt.

    I would think that this sort of reasoning would put all of the worlds evils directly at the dogs doorstep. I thought they wanted to project moon faced smiles and we love jeebus campfire songs?

    Like

  7. Barry says:

    I had a long conversation with my son yesterday (from lunch time till late in the evening) about why he became a Christian and a Fundamentalist one at that. I was expecting his reasoning to be circular, but it was more linear than I expected. But what I did notice was that his choice of literature to support his beliefs (other than the Bible) was essentially based on conformational bias.

    I am still convinced that his beliefs are mistaken and are socially harmful, but it gave me an interesting and fruitful insight into how otherwise intelligent people come to develop such ideas. It also helped me understand how one such believer processes and rationalises contradictions. All in all, an interesting exercise.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. basenjibrian says:

    Barry: Everything you posted above w/r/t Quakerism is not really contradicted by the Wikipedia article. Said article may not emphasize certain things that you emphasize. It is Wikipedia, after all.
    On a more quarrelsome note: Given that you do not really define yourself as a “Christian” (as Maka reminds us throughout the thread), why the need to defend homeopathic small-c christianity as in any way Christian in all that religion’s incoherent glory? Despite all your responses, I remain really skeptical that there can be a Non-Theistic Christianity that denies any conception at all of divinity. What’s the point?

    Like

    • Nan says:

      Brian, this isn’t directed to you personally, but I must repeat your question … what’s the point?

      Why does it matter to ANYONE whether Barry claims to be a Christian, a Quaker, or a devil-worshipper? He lives his life as he sees fit … not according to how others think he should.

      Liked by 1 person

      • basenjibrian says:

        Honestly, it does not, really. And I am not really focusing on Barry per se. Just the concept of the “Secular Christian”. But hey, you are right. it doesn’t matter except for a little bit of “itch” at our use of terminology. Carry on carrying on!

        Liked by 1 person

    • Barry says:

      I am not defending a particular set of beliefs. I’m defending my understanding of what a particular word means based on real world experience in a small corner of the south Pacific. I have provided several real world analogies to support why I believe a narrow definition of “Christian” is inadequate. None of the analogies/examples have been refuted or challenged or even acknowledged. You could say that they have been totally ignored. And I might well ask myself what’s the point.

      The point is that I’m defending a position which is being attacked with little more than accusations that I am wrong.

      I point to a Wikipedia entry about secular Christianity, and the response is “To try to claim that one can be an atheist and still cling to the term Christian is simply silly” and “Christianity has no god that is part of this world”. The first sentence conflates secular and atheist – they are not synonymous. The second sentence is an unsubstantiated opinion. And just recently “there is nothing ‘outdated’ by the word used by million today just as I have indicated.” That’s fine, they are describing christianity as conforming to their belief structure But does such a claim refute a wider definition? it’s not said.

      My reference to the haka gave what I thought was a good analogy to support my claim. It doesn’t matter if the entire world outside of NZ believes that it is no more than a primitive war dance, the simple fact is that such a definition is inadequate in an NZ context. There hasn’t even been a comment stating that it’s a poor or inadequate analogy, which would at least allow the conversation to proceed in a rational manner, rather than what appears to be clubschadenfreude’s argument of “You’re wrong, because the Bible says so”. And that’s from an atheist!

      I’d also like to emphasise another point I have made and has been totally ignored: A great many discussions by non-christians conclude with an agreement that if someone or some group claim to be Christian then they are indeed Christian. That has even been extended to include Hitler. And yet here we are with some of the very same non-Christians arguing that it doesn’t apply to people who claim to be Christian if the beliefs are of a “nicer” or a “watered down” kind.

      We’re not speculating on the validity or otherwise of a set of beliefs – at least I’m not. It is irrelevant. In a nutshell, what I’m arguing is that words are defined by usage. I’m going to make another attempt at illustrating why I’m convinced I’m closer to the mark than clubschadenfreude’s understanding or the Wikipedia definition quoted by Ron elsewhere in these comments, and since you brought up the subject of my religious affiliation, I’ll use that to work with.

      But first, just to clarify my position, as makagutu has pointed out, I do not claim to be a Christian. I am a non-theist, or perhaps more accurately, a non-realist. I am a Quaker. I don’t identify as a non-theist Friend, because it’s largely irrelevant, and in the NZ context, I doubt if there are many, if any Quaker theists in the conventional understanding of theism. If one felt their beliefs differed markedly from the norm then one could choose to identify as an evangelical Friend or a Christ-centred Friend, Wiccan Friend, Buddhist Friend or whatever felt appropriate, but it’s not necessary.

      Back to the task in hand. If I were to ask you “Are Quakers Christian? Yes or No“, how would you answer?

      If you answer “Yes” then I could ask you how can you then explain away the fact that from the beginning of the movement we have rejected the notion that humankind is essentially sinful and don’t hold to the belief that “through belief in and acceptance of the death and resurrection of Jesus, sinful humans can be reconciled to God, and thereby are offered salvation and the promise of eternal life” (See Ron’s quote from Wikipedia elsewhere in these comments) where this is described as the core Christian belief. The notion of substitutionary atonement is abhorrent to liberal Friends.

      Also, if your answer is “Yes” then does that mean Quakers in NZ have no right to call themselves Quakers? Elsewhere on WordPress there are some lengthy “discussions” between myself and Ashley regarding this subject. Ashley is strongly anti-religion and is adamant that by definition Quakers are Christian, and those who aren’t Christian have no right calling themselves Quakers. Unfortunately, Ashley didn’t reveal the source of the definition and apparently didn’t consult with any Quakers, unless it was the one quoted in the description of liberal Friends on the NZ Cults Website.

      If you were to answer “No”, then how do you explain away the fact that mainstream Christian inter-church organisations bend over backwards to include Quakers. In NZ, the now defunct Council of Churches changed its method of decision making (from voting to consensus) to allow Friends to feel able to join. In the UK, Churches in England added a “Quaker clause” to the rules on eligibility for membership as the Religious Society of Friends were not eligible under the primary clause. And how do you explain away the fact that for centuries, non-Quakers have included Quakers within the Christian fold?

      I’ve taken advantage of the situation of you bringing up the question of Quakers being Christian. I would have preferred not to, but it’s another example of why defining Christianity is extremely difficult. For over 300 years Friends and other Christians have recognised Quakerism as being Christian even though we don’t hold to what Wikipedia says is the core Christian belief.

      So my question to you and to anyone else who insists that I’ve painted Christianity with a too wide brush: Are Quakers Christian? What made you come to that decision?

      If we can come to a consensus on that (Quakers haven’t), then perhaps we’ll be able to bring this drawn out discussion to a close.

      Like

    • makagutu says:

      Interestingly this is the point Don Cuppitt (?) argues for. A non- theistic Christianity. Whether it makes sense to you and me is another matter.

      Like

      • Nan says:

        Labels are just that. Labels. We like to tag things and people with them to help us understand the world, but in essence, they do not define any of us. How we live our lives and how we treat others if what defines us as individuals.

        Like

        • Barry says:

          Yes, I agree. Humans tend to have a need to categorise and tag/label things. Unfortunately, for some people, those descriptive labels become prescriptive. They do this without realising it. I’m not sure, but perhaps if one thinks in words, this is the inevitable outcome? Maybe that is what has happened here. I think of the term “Christian” as descriptive, not prescriptive, if that makes sense. What it describes depends very much on context.

          Perhaps I’m in a rather unique position in that, like many people on the autism spectrum, I don’t think in words. In my case I think in concepts, – a bit like amorphous thought bubbles that are constantly combining and dividing. Perhaps a rough analogy would be how the blobs in a lava lamp combine and divide. When I need to communicate with fellow human beings, I first have to create a distinct blob that contains only the information that a typical person expects to receive. Once I’ve done that, I then have to search for words to represent that blob or concept and then sort them into the order demanded by the English language and toss in the necessary prepositions and conjunctions so that the listener or reader can make sense of it all. And I need to reverse the process when receiving information. In either direction, it requires a conscious effort on my part to do the translations, and I find it next to impossible to do it “on the fly” so to speak.

          Liked by 2 people

  9. basenjibrian says:

    I would certainly agree that the terms being thrown about are confusing and contradictory and dependent on the individual in question. I certainly don’t want to continue arguing about “No True Christian” status, as being unchurched and Atheist, I shouldn’t care.

    Like

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