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Discussion on matters of general mainstream evangelical Christian theology that do not fit within Theology 201. Have some spiritual gifts ceased today? Is the KJV the only viable translation for the church today? In what sense are the books of the bible inspired and what are those books? Church government? Modern day prophets and apostles?

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The Extents of Faith

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  • #16
    Paprika: Yes, knowledge is important in this case because it is part of my particular life-mission from God. Also: "Come, let us reason together says The Lord". It is vital to have Love, but having knowledge too is a desirable bonus if one can acheive it.

    footwasher: Nothing to do with genetic disposition or chemical imbalances in the brain. I'm actually mildly curious why that would even occur to you to ask.

    General: I'm very sorry I have been forgetting to post here. I have to go to bed now, so the above two statements will have to do for the moment, rather than working towards another try at a more detailed explaination of the theory-level question I'm trying to ask.
    Last edited by Draco Dei; 10-04-2014, 10:13 PM.

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    • #17
      Addicts are being treated with medication, indicating addiction isn't a character fault but rather an illness. Contra the Bible.


      A fundamental understanding in the Bible was that gay relationships are sinful. This is not so fundamental today, with science positing that some people are genetically predisposed to gay sexual orientation. Some churches are not dogmatic about biblical stances and are considering whether sin is present in a gay relationships, since those involved seem not able to conquer their orientation.

      Premarital sex also figures in some controversies, since a famous figure claimed not to have had sex with "that" woman. What constitutes sex?

      Mebbe you think churches aren't rethinking these issues, putting a big chunk of believers into the sinful category.

      Dat true?

      Comment


      • #18
        footwasher: Nope. The only thing that is even close is that I would consider the question "What is sex anyway?" to be a valid one, although the answer I would give as my working hypothesis right now would be something I think most people here would agree with. I'd type something out here about how I would define "sex", but I don't want to get distracted. I will say that even if (and let me repeat if) there is such a thing as a hard-wired homosexual nature at the genetic level that that would not negate one whit of the Bible's truth. The two options I can come up with off the top of my head (for individuals in such situations) are that:
        1.) Such persons have the option to not engage in sex at all.
        2.) Such persons may marry with full disclosure reached in appropriate stages throughout the courtship, and probably rely only on physical sensation (if male) or approach sex as an act of service (if female).
        ... but there I go allowing myself to get distracted. I'd refine the above statement, but, again, "distraction".

        One thing that I will say is that a true and precise answer is a true and precise answer, and I'm trying to take a new approach to something that I've had issues with in the past by focusing in on a piece where I think the underlying problem may lie. Thus, while I can perhaps give more concrete examples of what I'm talking about here, they won't be examples with any applicability to my own life. As such, any questions along the line of "Are you trying to <concrete issue>?" are to be avoided. However, "Would this be applicable to <concrete issue>?" would be an acceptable substitute. Examples are only useful for improving understanding of the underlying principles.

        In other words, in your responses I expect general kindness and mercy, as well as tolerence for my communications disability*, but any attempt to be helpful to me on the personal level rather than by working towards a highly robust theoretical understanding is to be avoided.

        *Asperger's... but don't believe everything either the media or the medical community says.

        Also: If I have my definitions correct then: Dogmatism is no excuse for trying to support a conclusion you know to be true based on arguments other than dogmatism.
        <EDIT>Let me try to say that a bit clearer: Knowing something is true based on dogmatism may be acceptable (depends on how you are defining dogmatism? I'd look up the dictionary definition, but I wouldn't be sure it would be the one you use.). However, once one knows something is true based on dogmatism, then IMHO someone needs to try to prove it on grounds other than dogmatism... or conclusively prove that it can not be conclusively proved. Which actually gets back to the question I was trying to ask in the first post of this thread! I think that one way of saying it is "How small is it possible to get the list of things that can not be derived from other, more logically fundimental, principles and especially the list of things it can be proved can't be proved?"</EDIT>

        More to come later, when I can find it in my heart to put aside what a rocky road this has been so far. There have been some good things said, but picking out which things is an emotionally difficult process for me.
        Last edited by Draco Dei; 10-04-2014, 10:13 PM.

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        • #19
          New realization:
          I guess I will also throw out there that I don't think that treating addictions with medication is necessarily a bad thing. It shouldn't be the only treatment in any particular case, but what works, works*. I would say that I see nothing counter-biblical about a conclusion of "illness, with a character fault as a necessary, but not necessarily sufficient, condition". I could be convinced, but not easily.

          I'm certain you didn't mean this, but it may still be useful to point out that if one were to take your argument to an extreme, it could indicate that drugs should not be used to treat diseases acquired through sexual promiscuity.

          *I'll also point out that the Bible says that temptation is common to man and that God is faithful to provide (Christians?) with a way of escape... it never says that the ways of escape are equally common (and some people are vulnerable to some pretty obscure temptations).
          Last edited by Draco Dei; 10-04-2014, 06:44 PM.

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          • #20
            Originally posted by Draco Dei View Post
            Paprika: Yes, knowledge is important in this case because it is part of my particular life-mission from God. Also: "Come, let us reason together says The Lord". It is vital to have Love, but having knowledge too is a desirable bonus if one can acheive it.
            I wasn't trying to say that knowledge is of no importance, but that it isn't very very important - certainly it isn't the most important - so you shouldn't even need or expect on every matter "fine distinctions...faith that this or that aspect of eternal Biblical Morality is precisely X, Y, or Z (or rather "X rather than X+0.0001 or X-0.0001 or X+0.0001-0.0001i"

            Comment


            • #21
              "How small is it possible to get the list of things that can not be derived from other, more logically fundimental, principles and especially the list of things it can be proved cannot be proved?"

              Pretty small. Jesus found it quite easy to filter out the non compliant. There was one infraction that fazed those thrown out into the outer darkness. It had very little to do with morality.

              Comment


              • #22
                Originally posted by Paprika View Post
                I wasn't trying to say that knowledge is of no importance, but that it isn't very very important - certainly it isn't the most important - so you shouldn't even need or expect on every matter "fine distinctions...faith that this or that aspect of eternal Biblical Morality is precisely X, Y, or Z (or rather "X rather than X+0.0001 or X-0.0001 or X+0.0001-0.0001i"
                That is not your decision to make for me. I am nearly certain of what I am personally called to do and that matter is not up for discussion at this time.

                I asked the forum what is possible. To which I will now add "and why it must, of necessity, be neither more nor less than whatever it is", in case I did not say that before.

                Only when that is determined might I possibly be willing to listen to discussion on what is desirable. I suspect that it might not be desirable in your own case, based on what you have said. As such I hereby disavow before God any and all responsibility for the state of any soul should I stumble you or anyone else from this point on. As for what has occurred in this thread to this point I can only say "If this is beyond anyone's understanding, then may be it is beyond what those individuals are called by God to understand. Take caution, and go with what Paprika has said until and unless you find yourself sure of your understanding of what is being said by various parties... and even then employ a fairly systematic doubt on that surety.".

                With that warning sign posted, I shall move on...

                5...

                4...

                3...

                2...

                1...

                If anyone hopes to get through to me they must work within these boundaries. Attempting to get people to understand the full picture of things in my life has proven to be nearly hopeless on this and other subjects*, thus I am resolute on remaining focused on the very specific problem, and using that as a test for who is capable (not honest and kind and so forth, but capable) of dealing with the big picture.

                *See: Communications Disability.
                Originally posted by footwasher View Post
                "How small is it possible to get the list of things that can not be derived from other, more logically fundimental, principles and especially the list of things it can be proved cannot be proved?"

                Pretty small. Jesus found it quite easy to filter out the non compliant. There was one infraction that fazed those thrown out into the outer darkness. It had very little to do with morality.
                I'm not quite sure I understand what you are saying here, but I suspect it might be useful. Just to double-check, how are you defining "morality"? I ask only because the classroom definition I seem to remember of it seems to be the reverse of what I have heard around the internet compared to "ethics".

                Which infraction are you referring to? The adulteress who was to be stoned?

                If so, I should say that that seems to be of very little use to me since all that seems to demonstrate is that all persons are sinful and that mercy is of great importance. It does nothing to particularly describe how one can discern between a thing that is only sinful because it might stumble ones brother, violate ones own conscience, or problematically violate the laws and/or social contracts one is considered part of on the one hand, and what is sin eternally, regardless of such considerations on the other hand.

                To put it in other terms, that seems to speak about sinners, when I am seeking analysis of individual acts of sin and virtue.

                I could easily be mistaken in that initial analysis, or even my guess as to which incident you are referring to, and would welcome clarification from you!


                Let me also give another go at the original question.

                *Holds up approximately three sheets of paper*
                ^Here are the entirety of the underlying assumptions of planar, Euclidean, compass and straight-edge type, geometry, including the fact that it is, indeed, planar, Euclidean and does not allow the use of rulers etc. I believe I have the number of pages correct, but I have not researched the issue. The exact number is not important at this stage of things I believe, since we are having such a hard time communicating, that such refinements can wait. I believe this only contains what are known as "postulates". One of them, in this case, is that "parallel lines do not meet" (I believe it is another branch of geometry where they meet "at infinity", and still others where the concept of parallels has no meaning (topology for one)).

                *Gestures to series of binders containing an amount of printed surface area equal to at least an unabridged dictionary, if not Encyclopedia Britannica*
                ^And here is ever distinct construction that has ever been performed with those rules, and which, by them, can be rigorously proven true.

                *Divides a very large number of pages by a very small number gets a very large number*

                ...now then, if one changes the topic from "geometry" to "theology" how small is the actual length of the "unprovens" and/or what does the ratio look like in actual fact? What about at a theoretically achievable ideal this side of Heaven given (perhaps among other things) vast qualities of man-hours and money thrown at the problem? Do note that such things as "follow the leadings of the Holy Spirit" is considered "open ended" and thus as much cheating as various manoeuvres with rulers would be in the field of geometry described above.

                Footwasher (or anyone else who feels like taking up the challenge):

                What would you say those items on that list might be?
                "Of first importance Love God totally. Second Love other persons more than you Love yourself."<- How I might say it.
                The above from The Message: "“That you love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and muscle and intelligence—and that you love your neighbor as well as you do yourself.”
                That? I'll grant you this is true, but it is hardly precise enough for what I am referring to.

                Do not be afraid that I shall get all legalistic on your listing
                . Oh, if it clears a certain bar for quality I'll almost certainly do my best to rip it to shreds, sure enough. But only as I would do with most any other statement of Truth, so that I might test and improve its veracity. In other words, I'll seek to improve it, hopefully in concert with you (I by no means feel qualified to do so on my own). Or if it is of the highest quality, then by doing so I will improve my understanding of it.

                I advance NO guess as to which the case is more likely to be.

                That having been said, the second case is problem-free enough, so I'm going to explain the first one more: By analogy I you might tell me that if one stands straight, with your feet pointed down, then holds one's arm out perpendicular to your body and lets go of a ball it will move downward relative to you. I'll point out that out of the vast volume of the universe the places and/or times when that is true are extremely rare... like, say, for instance, near the surface of a planet. It simply happens that that is where human beings spend the vast majority of their waking time (during their sleeping hours they are generally horizontal, which violates the basic supposition of "your" statement). If I'm doing my job right, even if I should be totally convincing (if that happens, consider it a miracle... for one thing, it isn't what I am going for at all), it would change next to nothing regarding your day to day behaviour, or your personal relationship with God... but having someone I can talk to about this stuff will, I'm fairly certain, enhance my ability to relate to God on a personal level (please, I beg of you, for all our sakes, take this as granted at least until we have made some progress on examining this issue). This is as obscure to most Christian's lives as sub-atomic physics is to the design of an electronics-free diesel engine.


                I do not doubt that the vast majority of this post will prove, at least in the long run, as clear as mud... but perhaps ever so slightly watered down mud compared to where we were before I made this post.

                I believe I am doing my best here, but I am struggling with great frustration and other impediments.

                P.S. Yes, I realize that it seems like theology will come off "worse" compared to geometry in the comparison I gave. I intend no such conclusion with regards to how things must be, and only MAYBE in terms of how the current levels of human understanding stand.
                Last edited by Draco Dei; 10-06-2014, 10:57 PM.

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                • #23
                  A lawyer explained legality, morality and ethics to me like this:

                  If a foreigner came to me for fixing his leaking faucet and I charged him more than I normally do, it wouldn't be illegal, but it would be immoral.

                  If I charged les than my fellow union members did so that I could undercut them, it wouldnt be immoral, but unethical.

                  Let's not even go into normative and functional morality.

                  Comment


                  • #24
                    Originally posted by footwasher View Post
                    A lawyer explained legality, morality and ethics to me like this:

                    If a foreigner came to me for fixing his leaking faucet and I charged him more than I normally do, it wouldn't be illegal, but it would be immoral.

                    If I charged les than my fellow union members did so that I could undercut them, it wouldnt be immoral, but unethical.

                    Let's not even go into normative and functional morality.
                    Hmmm...

                    So then, by your definitions, ethics are defined by society, which is variable, but at least some part of morality is Eternal Truth?

                    Let me be clear: I have no foreseeable intention of arguing definitions with anyone on that subject. If someone needs a word to represent a concept, then I'm usually pretty willing to let them use that word to represent that concept. If it turns out that I have been using that same word to represent a different concept that I feel is an important concept, then, at least upon request, I'm perfectly happy to find another word*. The exception would be words found in sources not created by members of this discussion, particularly The Bible. In that case it is pretty important that the words mean what the particular authors meant them to mean... at least for as long as we are bringing in such sources. Afterwards we may agree among ourselves that "that may or may not be a smart idea, but the wording is outdated, or just plain poor, rather than rich, language"... or, more likely, we might not.

                    *If necessary I'll randomly combine letters until I come up with something memorable and/or pronounceable and then declare that word to mean that concept. English being "a cribhouse whore"** I doubt I'll have to resort to that. ;)
                    **For those unfamiliar with the reference, I'm going to perhaps mash together two rough quotes "Defending the purity of the English language is like defending the purity of a cribhouse whore. English doesn't so much borrow words from other languages as it lures those languages into dark alley-ways, beat them unconscious, and riffle through their pockets for loose verbiage.". I refuse to be at all precise in my quoting, for reasons that should be philosophically obvious.



                    Hmmm... as long as I'm posting again, I guess I will throw out something more that came to me while I was pondering in the interim.

                    I am going to describe some positions I feel to be... well, I'd rather not use the words "foolish" or "unwise" since both fools and wisdom are mentioned in Proverbs. Let me go with "stupid" (again, requests for an alternate word are welcome, with or without suggestions for what that word might be). I'm just going to throw these out there to lay some groundwork that I may or may not need later. I'd be surprised if anyone disagreed with there stupidity, but I thought I should check.

                    1.)
                    "I don't need to read God's guidance for living in the Bible, I just ask the Holy Spirit what to do in any given situation and follow the response I feel in my heart. God is about relationship, and the rules are just crutches for people who need a little bit of that. I read the stories, but I don't try to learn anything about my life from them, I'm only interested in hearing my Heavenly Father's tales, because they never get old."

                    2.)
                    "I find I don't have enough temptation in my life. I should seek some out so I'll be able to say I stood firm." I'll contrast this by saying that saying "I've been granted the ability to stand strong... since much has been granted to me, I should find situations where I may accomplish much for God with this." To provide some examples: the stupid one says "I'm gonna go stand outside the XXX Bookstore where the prostitutes like to attract customers, and I won't give them the time of day nor go in." the not-so-stupid one says "Perhaps I should be a missionary to a country where that is a risky thing to do...I'll look into it.".


                    Yes, I am setting up straw-man arguments... I intend to use them judiciously enough that that won't be a problem. Based on how this conversation has gone so far, any example is better than no example at all.

                    Comment


                    • #25
                      Check your messages.

                      Comment


                      • #26
                        Here's what I think regarding ethics/morality/goodness in general/etc, morality is primarily relational and so to a certain degree you can't get precise data because of the diversity of persons and the nature of relationships. Look at the Ten Commandments--they are all ultimately about respecting God or respecting your neighbor. Now one might ask, what is respecting/loving/honoring God/your neighbor? This is where discussion and study plays out. So moral rules aren't like the laws of physics but more like rules governing how relationships between persons should work. Violations of these rules indicate a breach of relationship. Now could these rules be classified and charted out, theoretically yes, but given how many dimensions there are to work with, it’s more feasible to work with general rules than precise rules. If your trying to figure out how social rules versus consciousness rules versus eternal moral rules differ and play out its probably best to start with generalities.

                        Regarding example 1:However, Christians should study God and the Bible. Pretty much the only way to learn something is through diligent hard work and I think this is honoring God because it’s demonstrating that you think He's important enough to spend time on. And I think it’s arrogant to expect a direct response from God. To get an explicit response from the Holy Spirit is to be a prophet. I'll be honest--I am no prophet and I doubt many of these Christians who take that stance are prophets. Being a prophet isn't normative. Now don’t get me wrong, I think many Christians who take this stance have their hearts in the right place because they are doing so out of a desire to serve God.

                        Comment


                        • #27
                          Once again I find myself struggling to communicate clearly or get people to ask clarifying questions that are aiming at a generalized solution, rather than needing to know the specific case being studied. I have a few suggestions I got from an advisor of mine, but I'm not up to putting them in. The one "cut the Gordian Knot" solution I came up with he re-assured me was definitely NOT appropriate.

                          I'll try to get that up in the next few days, but this continued muddled communication makes it difficult. For now I'll just respond to some things that people have said. Once again, I can't afford to double-check everything for clarity, since if I did that I'd just lose my nerve, or put in a huge amount of effort and STILL have misunderstandings occur perhaps through NOBODY'S fault.

                          Footwasher:
                          Not sure why you sent that as a (not so?) private message, but I can see at least some relevance... still trying to decide if it is a good route to go.

                          Originally posted by Paula View Post
                          Here's what I think regarding ethics/morality/goodness in general/etc, morality is primarily relational and so to a certain degree you can't get precise data because of the diversity of persons and the nature of relationships. Look at the Ten Commandments--they are all ultimately about respecting God or respecting your neighbor. Now one might ask, what is respecting/loving/honoring God/your neighbor? This is where discussion and study plays out. So moral rules aren't like the laws of physics but more like rules governing how relationships between persons should work.
                          If they are involate and absolute, I hold that they must be calculable, especially as far as objectives go.

                          People are people and are complicated. In this particular case I have... the right people to ask to handle that complexity, but ONLY if I have the eternal truths nailed down.
                          Originally posted by Paula View Post
                          Violations of these rules indicate a breach of relationship.
                          I have to believe that there is much more to right and wrong than what other people want.

                          To put it another way: I feel one of the greatest services I can provide to someone else is to show them what Godly living looks like when freed from the petty concerns of any particular social context. To do what makes SENSE rather than getting all bound up in the inefficient social customs that humans have a distressing tendency to create for themselves. That is a great act of Love, and I like to think I can handle the resulting stresses upon myself if only I can get a firmer place to stand and maybe some people to support me better...

                          Naturally, executing this philosophy properly requires a great deal of trial and error, forethought, and/or finesse.


                          Of course, perhaps ironically, this is because of the specific skill-set that God has gifted me with... my talents, in the sense of the original parable of the talents... except that everywhere I look I see only bad places to invest them. And yet, here I am, faithfully trying again to find such a place.
                          Originally posted by Paula View Post
                          Now could these rules be classified and charted out, theoretically yes, but given how many dimensions there are to work with, it’s more feasible to work with general rules than precise rules.
                          In most cases, yes.

                          Not necessarily in every case.
                          Originally posted by Paula View Post
                          If your trying to figure out how social rules versus consciousness rules versus eternal moral rules differ and play out its probably best to start with generalities.
                          I'm sick and tired of generalities however. I need hard facts to make any progress on the particular underlying issue I'm wrestling with.
                          Originally posted by Paula View Post
                          Regarding example 1:However, Christians should study God and the Bible. Pretty much the only way to learn something is through diligent hard work and I think this is honoring God because it’s demonstrating that you think He's important enough to spend time on.
                          I can't really do that very much without some very specific sorts of support. It hurts too much.

                          I'll put in my time trying to FIX THE PROBLEM, rather than trying to "walk on a broken leg before it has healed".
                          Originally posted by Paula View Post
                          And I think it’s arrogant to expect a direct response from God. To get an explicit response from the Holy Spirit is to be a prophet. I'll be honest--I am no prophet and I doubt many of these Christians who take that stance are prophets. Being a prophet isn't normative. Now don’t get me wrong, I think many Christians who take this stance have their hearts in the right place because they are doing so out of a desire to serve God.
                          Ah, but that only intensifies my point! Fuzzy answers are fuzzy answers, and not nearly as subject to generalization. Thus, by your own logic, if I'm looking for a systematic answer, the last place I should be looking is to the Holy Spirit (although a good scientist can glean data from even the most imprecise instrument, given a large enough, and clearly documented enough, data pool).
                          Last edited by Draco Dei; 10-17-2014, 06:31 PM.

                          Comment


                          • #28
                            Oh I think right and wrong go beyond what people want too because ultimately the defining factor in morality is God who is above everything else. Still, to sin seems to be to sin against someone. Nevertheless, I could be wrong, as such can you list any non-relational moral rules that don't either trace their way back to God or back to another human being.

                            So your trying to get at the absolute moral rules that are valid regardless of societal concerns. The eternal truths as it were. Now are you getting at descriptions of these truths or descriptions plus applications. Because it may be that some eternal truths (but not all) will differ depending on the society in their application. After all, its hard to steal in a society where there is no private property. Although maybe in those societies something else stands in for stealing. Perhaps establishing private property, thus stealing from the group, is stealing in those societies. But are there some eternal truths whose application is the same regardless of the culture and time-period. Before getting at the more troublesome ones like the theft one, I would probably establish those first. To start this one off, I'd have to say one eternal truth that will be true regardless of culture is to worship God and not anything else. Some societies are going to be geared against this one, such as Western society, which encourages pluralism and would be offended by the exclusivity of that moral command but it stands as a command nonetheless.

                            Oh I never meant that you can't get systematic answers from God, just that its not normative to get direct answers in the sense of an audible voice.

                            If you want to start from the ground up, I am not sure how precise you want to get with the data, worship God alone may be too general because there are many fine points to consider with that in terms of application.

                            You mentioned you can't do much study of the Bible without very specific sorts of support. Are you referring to support from other people? Are the support of a theological framework?

                            I think you may have gotten the wrong impression from me, I am not trying to discourage you from trying to map out morality (frankly I'd be quite interesting in what you come up with). Just offering my thoughts on some of the challenges (is morality something you can do that for? if you can, will it get you generalities or precise data?).
                            Last edited by Paula; 10-29-2014, 10:56 AM.

                            Comment


                            • #29
                              Sorry for the delay. Couldn't look at this often for fear of pain.

                              Paula's response directly above, incidentally, DOESN'T hurt, and I feel that God is rewarding me for having the guts to risk checking this thread.
                              Originally posted by Paula View Post
                              Oh I think right and wrong go beyond what people want too because ultimately the defining factor in morality is God who is above everything else. Still, to sin seems to be to sin against someone. Nevertheless, I could be wrong, as such can you list any non-relational moral rules that don't either trace their way back to God or back to another human being.
                              Well, given what Jesus said about "these two sum up all the law and the prophets", my tentative working hypothesis would be that there are no such things as you invite me to list.

                              I'll also note, merely for the sake of precision, that limiting ourselves to moral rules doesn't necessarily cover all that I am concerned with, although it does hit the most important area. The area that is the source of my past hurt over the years.

                              There is also the fundamental nature of God, the universe, both seen and unseen (Heaven, Hell, and possibly Purgatory and Paradise, although I don't believe in the third, and find the fourth dubious and not of any great practical importance). That is much less relevant to me though. I am, as you guessed, and as I probably initially overstated, much more interested in the moral rules.
                              Originally posted by Paula View Post
                              So your trying to get at the absolute moral rules that are valid regardless of societal concerns. The eternal truths as it were. Now are you getting at descriptions of these truths or descriptions plus applications.
                              Descriptions for now I think. Applications can come later, except as they serve as useful test cases to refine the descriptions. As such, I would submit that applications to highly theoretical cases are about as useful as stuff that many people in this forum put into practice (to one degree or another of theoretical elegance) every day.
                              Originally posted by Paula View Post
                              Because it may be that some eternal truths (but not all) will differ depending on the society in their application. After all, its hard to steal in a society where there is no private property. Although maybe in those societies something else stands in for stealing. Perhaps establishing private property, thus stealing from the group, is stealing in those societies.
                              Well, as long as you respect the idea that I, personally, may be called to improve society's efficiency by way of providing examples and/or be part of The Body of Christ's call to be "all things to all men". Note that my working hypothesis is not only that "all things to all men" is a call to action, but I also think it to be a communal thing, such that individual Christians acting in mutually contradictory ways throughout their lives on certain non-eternal issues may be exactly as it should be.

                              For example: There should be Christians who abstain from all intoxicating drink. There should be Christians who have to have a designated driver 3 days out of the week. Ideally, both should admit, when pressed, that there particular take is not necessarily an eternal truth. More relevantly, there should be people who do things that would have horrified any of the 12 disciples, because their comprehension of physical reality was less than our own. Ditto, but slightly less strongly relevant, for differing cultural context between the Circa 1 AD Roman empire and the modern era (specific examples thematically related to this are towards the end of this message). Without any of these things The Church has failed to reach out to some portion of humanity that they could without compromising on Eternal Truth. Which is why when I was referred by Footwasher to a thread discussing if and how historical context should be used to interprit The Bible it raised a red flag to me. Not that historical context isn't important, but it has to be applied with care if one is after eternal truth. I respect Footwasher's intentions, but for the sake of my mental safety feel I must point out that they backfired. The problem was compounded by the fact that I find argument from anything other than rational and/or theoretical grounds to be a painful reminder of how poor I am at extracting useful information from the common ways of debating issues.
                              Originally posted by Paula View Post
                              But are there some eternal truths whose application is the same regardless of the culture and time-period. Before getting at the more troublesome ones like the theft one, I would probably establish those first. To start this one off, I'd have to say one eternal truth that will be true regardless of culture is to worship God and not anything else. Some societies are going to be geared against this one, such as Western society, which encourages pluralism and would be offended by the exclusivity of that moral command but it stands as a command nonetheless.
                              I would concur with that in theory, although I've found the idea of what constitutes "worship" and what does not can be a matter of debate in some cases.
                              Originally posted by Paula View Post
                              Oh I never meant that you can't get systematic answers from God, just that its not normative to get direct answers in the sense of an audible voice.
                              Agreed I think. I'm slightly unsure about the probability of getting systematic answers directly from God, but I agree on everything after that.
                              Originally posted by Paula View Post
                              If you want to start from the ground up, I am not sure how precise you want to get with the data, worship God alone may be too general because there are many fine points to consider with that in terms of application.
                              The only one that comes immediately to mind I've already brought up.
                              Originally posted by Paula View Post
                              You mentioned you can't do much study of the Bible without very specific sorts of support. Are you referring to support from other people? Are the support of a theological framework?
                              Either and/or both.
                              Originally posted by Paula View Post
                              I think you may have gotten the wrong impression from me, I am not trying to discourage you from trying to map out morality (frankly I'd be quite interesting in what you come up with). Just offering my thoughts on some of the challenges (is morality something you can do that for? if you can, will it get you generalities or precise data?).
                              My preliminary understanding is that it is a truly colossal undertaking to get to the level I'm thinking of on all subjects. I've been told (by just one person) that it is something, given the starting point of moral understanding that exists today even among the best of theologians, would take millions of man-hours, and, in addition, probably billions, if not trillions of dollars spent on systematic data-gathering by professionals to examine the pragmatic outcomes of certain types of behaviour plus the individual leadings of the Holy Spirit in certain cases, and deduce from that God's Will in enough precisely defined cases to back calculate to the theoretical-level rules and double-check them in that fashion.

                              We, The Church, The Body of Christ, are, at a wild guess, 200 years* overdue on this project, so it is high time we got to it. Done properly, it should pay dividends from now until the second coming, and partial credit is not only possible, but we have already earned a good deal over the centuries.
                              *About the time when modern scientific thought started coming into existence. I'm no historian, so I couldn't tell you when that was.

                              As a side benefit, even a respect for an ongoing serious attempt at this by the majority of Christian leaders would greatly reduce inter-denominational friction I think.



                              Since I'm here, let me also list a few more examples to clarify the original question (although we are already headed in a much better direction than a lot of what happened previously was).
                              1.)
                              I got this one from a wise councilor who I sought aid on better communicating with the community in these forums:
                              Wind the clock back a while. Imagine that one is educated in the latest medical theory of the time, and is engaged in a discussion of if disease is God's punishment on for sin. Well, that is a question that is still debated even today (personally I'm strongly of the theory that "Usually not for specific cases, although it is part of the original changes in the world at The Curse"). But what one COULD add to the debate is that the whole idea of disease being caused by an intangible force known as the miasma is utter bunk, despite that being strongly integrated into the theological thought of the day.

                              2.)
                              Or imagine a modern day geneticist arguing with a racist from anywhere from today all the way back (via hypothetical time travel) the early days of chattel slavery by the British (as opposed to, say, the slavery system of ancient Israel, which actually worked out to something vaguely like a welfare system) arguing that this whole "children of Ham" argument that place the dark-skinned races "naturally" subservient to the Europeans or the whole idea that the "Jewish Race" was naturally inferior (which a lot of people in America bought into up until the END of WWII).

                              2a/Sidenote.)
                              Note that I'm actually a firm believer in eugenics... starting in no less than 100 years, and with each individual issue to be considered vetted by thinkers from multiple cultures for no less than 100 years each (but possibly overlapping), and applied completely voluntarily except PERHAPS in the most extreme cases of genetically-induced mental deficiency. It is also much less suspect when it comes to perceived physical defects than it is in the case of perceived mental or emotional defects. I forget if it is sociopaths(sp?) or psychopaths who MAY make pretty good management personal in some cases...

                              Or to put it another way: Great in theory, INCREDIABLY difficult to execute with sufficient wisdom in practice, much more planning required before attempting... possible additional safeguard might be having the ability to artificially edit back in any "defect" that is later discovered to have a desirable aspect by later generations, although this is not without its draw-backs, since creating an ethnic group of simple-minded followers would be entirely too tempting for some. Of course, those people would be causing problems anyway, so I don't see it as any reason not to pursue... and I'm getting way too side-tracked here!

                              3.) Let us consider the case of a Master Detective whose mastery includes a remarkable grasp of abnormal psychology (one could, for instance, insert a Christian version of either Sherlock Holmes or Batman as one prefers). Let us say that he and an equally Christian Watson/Robin are captured by the villain of the story who is both a violent atheist and stark raving mad. He binds and gags them, and gives a rambling rant about the impossibility of any sort of higher being, then locks them in separate cells and informs them they have three hours to consider his "superior logic" before he will give them a choice between denying their faith, and a slow and painful death via hungry hungry crabs.

                              Watson/Robin prays fervently (and silently since he is still gagged) for the entire three hours, and receives reassurance from the Holy Spirit that he should stand firm... which he basically already knew. Perhaps even some sort of supernatural guidance is provided as to if, when ungagged, he should choose to try to state some logical counterargument to the villain's insane beliefs. In doing this he acts with as much righteousness as is humanly possible.

                              Holmes/Batman prays briefly at intervals throughout his wait. At one point his keen mind notices a means by which he could perhaps escape. He delays acting on it, even at the cost of reducing its chances of success as he continues to calculate another option.

                              Watson/Robin is dragged out, ungagged, makes his statement, simple or logical. He is lowered into the crab-pit, and the tiny crustaceans begin to feast.

                              Holmes/Batman is dragged out, ungagged, and the first thing he says is "Jesus was even bluer colored than you are."
                              What?
                              Well, I have no idea what that means, and you certainly don't. If Watson/Robin can comprehend beyond the pain of the crab bites, then he might have a vague idea.
                              All I know, even as the author of this scenario is that this is the first move of the psychological equivalent of a blackbelt in karate taking down four armed enemies at once.
                              Holmes/Batman saves his own life, possibly Watson/Robin's life, and, most importantly, the soul of the villain that day, although this last will require months of effort, first by Holmes/Batman, and then by a local pastor who is carefully briefed by Holmes/Batman before he is introduced to our villain.

                              Did Holmes/Batman act in any morally wrongly, simply because his course of action differed radically from the simple faith of Watson/Robin? No, no he did not.
                              Did he earn more honor in God's eyes that day than Watson/Robin? Almost certainly not.
                              Did he earn noticeably less, while still the maximum the situation allowed him? Quite possibly, although the many hours of intense study that served to make him the man who could triumph in that moment are certainly a good work that must be counted to his credit when and if one were to try to answer that question. He has invested his Talent (in both the Biblical and the common use of the word "talent") well.

                              I wish to make myself and encourage others to be more Holmes/Batman, and a little less Watson/Robin by this analogy. Of course, in the original stories of Holmes, Watson was much cooler than he is in most modern depictions... but that is beside the point. The point is also that I wish to find a group of people who will respect me for this desire.
                              [End of examples]

                              It is these sorts of glossing over of fundamental "if... then" relationships that are hidden inside people's practical morality that I feel I personally, The Church, and The World as a whole would benefit from the reduction of.

                              Reducing the amount of stuff that is taken "on faith" and removing any reliance on "church tradition" of any sort (especially regardless of denomination of that tradition) as a basis for moral analysis is my goal at this time. This thread was started in an attempt to see how strongly it could be argued that such a goal is fundamentally impossible given God's nature, and his desires for how he would relate to His People... because that is the impression that I've gotten from a lot of people I've asked for moral guidance in years past at various churches. It really made me feel like I was being told I was worthless, but I've realized I may have been making a fundamentally incorrect assumption about moral theory. Thus I came here. I was hoping to give the most erudite group of Christians I happen to know how to find a chance to at least state their case logically direct me to a still more erudite source who would be willing to talk to me... or else-wise to say "Nope, you've actually got it right, now could you please tell someone what exactly the area(s) you were investigating when the hurt occurred, at least privately, so we can try to direct you to someone who can help you gain a more rigorous understanding of the matter?"

                              I hope I managed to explain that well enough for a start... questions welcome, or we can leave the examples of what I'm getting at for now and come back to it later.

                              I hope to go through the thread up to this point and point out/further respond to the other posts that don't "hurt". That would be at a later time (hopefully more like hours or days than multiple weeks) and in a separate post though.
                              Last edited by Draco Dei; 11-07-2014, 09:58 PM.

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                              • #30
                                Important follow up:
                                I do not find your assertion that one must worship only God to be sufficiently basic. It is important, but I feel it can be proven from an assumption of the validity of The Bible, and perhaps a few other principles. These in turn may or may not have still more logically fundamental principles that can be found behind them.

                                Very sorry that I forgot to say this in my previous post.

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