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Off The Deep End

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  • Off The Deep End

    This thread was inspired by rob's comment which sparked my reply and idea for this thread:

    Quote Originally Posted by robrecht:

    There are things in Catholicism that I disagree with, and much with which I agree in Luther's early theology, but it seems to me he went off the deep end rather quickly with his apocalyptic expectations and specific identifications of the Pope and others as figures prophesied in the Book of Revelation.

    Quote Originally Posted by Scrawly:

    Not to derail the thread - but I have observed similar phenomena, even in my own life, where seemingly the deeper one plunges into theological study and devotion, the seemingly increasingly neurotic, one becomes. Why do you think this is? How ought we guard against this?

    So to continue this train of thought - how do we as aspiring authentic Christian's strive for well-roundedness, being productive citizen's engaged in making the world a better place and at the same time remain faithful to biblical teaching that calls for venturing out into the deeper waters (and often against the grain) without going off the deep end into nutbar-ism? For example, I remember one time speaking with my friend over the phone about the activity of Satan, and after the conversation I reached for a tissue and the fluffy white kitten on the Kleenex box looked totally demonic to me. Suffice to say, I didn't sleep that night and the conversation put me on an unhealthy trajectory of neurosis.

    Last edited by Scrawly; 07-10-2015, 06:53 PM.

  • #2
    Most reformers in history were considered "nutbars," because they were obviously bucking against the accepted religious tide. Our very Lord was considered crazy, even by his own family. And then there are people that really do go off the deep end like Jim Jones. So, the question really is how we distinguish the two? By extinguishing what we consider "nutbarism," we way may be unwittingly stifling the Holy Spirit and thus the next great reformer, or we may be allowing the next great tragedy
    "I was the CIA director. We lied, we cheated, we stole, it was like... we had entire training courses. It reminds you of the glory of the American experiment." - Mike Pompeo, Secretary of State (source).

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    • #3
      My own experience is that sound theology is the greatest safeguard of sanity a person could ask for. By this I don't mean that theology is supposed to make one feel good, least of all in the way televangelists suggest, but that a deeper knowledge of theology actually has helped me through a few personal crises.
      Don't call it a comeback. It's a riposte.

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      • #4
        I think that there are two areas that do seem to be prone to leading people into 'nutbarism' - demonology and eschatology. People who over focus on either seem often to get out of balance. For those in that situation I recommend getting away from the books, videos and suchlike, and doing something for people - help in the church children's program,or serve in the food bank, or mow a neighbour's lawns, or something.
        ...>>> Witty remark or snarky quote of another poster goes here <<<...

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        • #5
          In 'religious life' in the Orthodox and Catholic churches (ie, nuns, priests, brothers), there has always been a focus on either community or social action or both as a way to stem the tide of nutbarism (good word). From the beginnings of religious life in the desert, living in some form of community was mandated, even for hermits, and especially the many communities of sisters have done enormous amounts of good work in serving the poor and sick and teaching.
          βλέπομεν γὰρ ἄρτι δι᾿ ἐσόπτρου ἐν αἰνίγματι, τότε δὲ πρόσωπον πρὸς πρόσωπον·
          ἄρτι γινώσκω ἐκ μέρους, τότε δὲ ἐπιγνώσομαι καθὼς καὶ ἐπεγνώσθην.

          אָכֵ֕ן אַתָּ֖ה אֵ֣ל מִסְתַּתֵּ֑ר אֱלֹהֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל מוֹשִֽׁיעַ׃

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          • #6
            Originally posted by MaxVel View Post
            I think that there are two areas that do seem to be prone to leading people into 'nutbarism' - demonology and eschatology. People who over focus on either seem often to get out of balance. For those in that situation I recommend getting away from the books, videos and suchlike, and doing something for people - help in the church children's program,or serve in the food bank, or mow a neighbour's lawns, or something.
            I disagree with demonology. I think the church is a victim of scientific modernism which gives in to pop cultural norms and completely downplays the issue as a result of societal pressure. Much like Genesis creationism, miracles (which are almost nonexistent relative to the ancient times except on very rare occasions), even eschatology. I believe it also explains why the church is basically impotent and in the sorry shape it's in today, particularly in urban areas.
            "I was the CIA director. We lied, we cheated, we stole, it was like... we had entire training courses. It reminds you of the glory of the American experiment." - Mike Pompeo, Secretary of State (source).

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by MaxVel View Post
              I think that there are two areas that do seem to be prone to leading people into 'nutbarism' - demonology and eschatology. People who over focus on either seem often to get out of balance. For those in that situation I recommend getting away from the books, videos and suchlike, and doing something for people - help in the church children's program,or serve in the food bank, or mow a neighbour's lawns, or something.
              I certainly agree with eschatology. I've known a couple not nuts but so lost in eschatological study they had no connection to the rest of Christianity.

              Haven't personally met anyone that in demonology so I don't know. I do agree with SeanD that these days, the supernatural tends to get discounted for more material causes. I almost say we need more study of demonology these days.
              "For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings." Hosea 6:6

              "Theology can be an intellectual entertainment." Metropolitan Anthony Bloom

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Thoughtful Monk View Post
                I certainly agree with eschatology. I've known a couple not nuts but so lost in eschatological study they had no connection to the rest of Christianity.

                Haven't personally met anyone that in demonology so I don't know. I do agree with SeanD that these days, the supernatural tends to get discounted for more material causes. I almost say we need more study of demonology these days.
                I'll agree with you and say we need more study of demonology and less rushing to accusations of demons possessing individuals.
                "I am not angered that the Moral Majority boys campaign against abortion. I am angry when the same men who say, "Save OUR children" bellow "Build more and bigger bombers." That's right! Blast the children in other nations into eternity, or limbless misery as they lay crippled from "OUR" bombers! This does not jell." - Leonard Ravenhill

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                • #9
                  Remember that Luther was involved in a war where people actually got killed for holding the wrong theology. That might tend to lead to a more radical assessment of the opposition than in today's more genteel climate. Furthermore, if you look at how the Borgia popes actually acted, I don't think it was so out of line for Luther to consider that the Papacy had turned into the anti-Christ. That kind of judgement would not, of course, be appropriate for today's Catholic Church.

                  I've also wondered whether, somewhat ironically, Luther was pushed that way by the concept of a unified Church. Today we're used to multiple denominations. If we think our current church is wrong, we can create a new denomination or join a different one. But Luther accepted the dominant view that there's only one Church. If the Catholic Church was sufficiently wrong to justify a break, he couldn't just say he was creating a new denomination. He had to take the view that the Catholic hierarchy was non-Christian.

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                  • #10
                    IMHO, one key to keeping yourself sane is to keep "fundamental theology", that which is essential to the Christian faith, distinct from "disputable theology", that which isn't.

                    So, trinity; incarnation; virgin birth; Christ's death, burial, and resurrection resulting in propitiation; justification/salvation through faith; and bodily resurrection are fundamental. The rest is disputable.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by hedrick View Post
                      Remember that Luther was involved in a war where people actually got killed for holding the wrong theology. That might tend to lead to a more radical assessment of the opposition than in today's more genteel climate. Furthermore, if you look at how the Borgia popes actually acted, I don't think it was so out of line for Luther to consider that the Papacy had turned into the anti-Christ. That kind of judgement would not, of course, be appropriate for today's Catholic Church.

                      I've also wondered whether, somewhat ironically, Luther was pushed that way by the concept of a unified Church. Today we're used to multiple denominations. If we think our current church is wrong, we can create a new denomination or join a different one. But Luther accepted the dominant view that there's only one Church. If the Catholic Church was sufficiently wrong to justify a break, he couldn't just say he was creating a new denomination. He had to take the view that the Catholic hierarchy was non-Christian.
                      Please don't think that I was defending Borgia popes or capital punishment for theological dissent or opposing theological pluralism in the church(es). I understand that Luther was a man of his times, but there were other men of the times who nonetheless did not make the same identifications of Luther and others with figures prophesied in the book of Revelation with a near expectation of the apocalypse. For a more sober assessment of Luther's theology, the comparison is frequently made between Luther and Erasmus, whose edition of the New Testament Luther used in making his German translation.
                      βλέπομεν γὰρ ἄρτι δι᾿ ἐσόπτρου ἐν αἰνίγματι, τότε δὲ πρόσωπον πρὸς πρόσωπον·
                      ἄρτι γινώσκω ἐκ μέρους, τότε δὲ ἐπιγνώσομαι καθὼς καὶ ἐπεγνώσθην.

                      אָכֵ֕ן אַתָּ֖ה אֵ֣ל מִסְתַּתֵּ֑ר אֱלֹהֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל מוֹשִֽׁיעַ׃

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by robrecht View Post
                        Please don't think that I was defending Borgia popes or capital punishment for theological dissent or opposing theological pluralism in the church(es). I understand that Luther was a man of his times, but there were other men of the times who nonetheless did not make the same identifications of Luther and others with figures prophesied in the book of Revelation with a near expectation of the apocalypse. For a more sober assessment of Luther's theology, the comparison is frequently made between Luther and Erasmus, whose edition of the New Testament Luther used in making his German translation.
                        Indeed. However I'm mostly with Luther on this one. Luther seems to have gotten pulled into this at least in part because he was responsible for the welfare of the spiritual welfare of a congregation. Few modern Christians would take the view that a pastor should let his congregation be misled so badly. At least under the assumptions of the time, this would have been a matter of salvation. I'm not sure that Erasmus had that kind of responsibility. If he was actually a pastor, I haven't seen any reference to it.

                        Wikipedia says of Erasmus "Erasmus preferred to live the life of an independent scholar and made a conscious effort to avoid any actions or formal ties that might inhibit his freedom of intellect and literary expression." I'm not so sure this is a responsible position to take.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by hedrick View Post
                          Indeed. However I'm mostly with Luther on this one. Luther seems to have gotten pulled into this at least in part because he was responsible for the welfare of the spiritual welfare of a congregation. Few modern Christians would take the view that a pastor should let his congregation be misled so badly. At least under the assumptions of the time, this would have been a matter of salvation. I'm not sure that Erasmus had that kind of responsibility. If he was actually a pastor, I haven't seen any reference to it.

                          Wikipedia says of Erasmus "Erasmus preferred to live the life of an independent scholar and made a conscious effort to avoid any actions or formal ties that might inhibit his freedom of intellect and literary expression." I'm not so sure this is a responsible position to take.
                          Erasmus was a former priest, but I'm more interested in your support for Luther here. Do you think he was correct in identifying any particular pope or the papacy in general as in some true sense a/the Antichrist?
                          βλέπομεν γὰρ ἄρτι δι᾿ ἐσόπτρου ἐν αἰνίγματι, τότε δὲ πρόσωπον πρὸς πρόσωπον·
                          ἄρτι γινώσκω ἐκ μέρους, τότε δὲ ἐπιγνώσομαι καθὼς καὶ ἐπεγνώσθην.

                          אָכֵ֕ן אַתָּ֖ה אֵ֣ל מִסְתַּתֵּ֑ר אֱלֹהֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל מוֹשִֽׁיעַ׃

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by seanD View Post
                            I disagree with demonology. I think the church is a victim of scientific modernism which gives in to pop cultural norms and completely downplays the issue as a result of societal pressure. Much like Genesis creationism, miracles (which are almost nonexistent relative to the ancient times except on very rare occasions), even eschatology. I believe it also explains why the church is basically impotent and in the sorry shape it's in today, particularly in urban areas.
                            Miracles tend to occur less today because of a general lack of faith. Even Jesus could not perform many miracles in Nazareth due to their lack of faith; why should we expect anything different?
                            Enter the Church and wash away your sins. For here there is a hospital and not a court of law. Do not be ashamed to enter the Church; be ashamed when you sin, but not when you repent. – St. John Chrysostom

                            Veritas vos Liberabit<>< Learn Greek <>< Look here for an Orthodox Church in America<><Ancient Faith Radio
                            sigpic
                            I recommend you do not try too hard and ...research as little as possible. Such weighty things give me a headache. - Shunyadragon, Baha'i apologist

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by One Bad Pig View Post
                              Miracles tend to occur less today because of a general lack of faith. Even Jesus could not perform many miracles in Nazareth due to their lack of faith; why should we expect anything different?
                              Exactly.
                              "I was the CIA director. We lied, we cheated, we stole, it was like... we had entire training courses. It reminds you of the glory of the American experiment." - Mike Pompeo, Secretary of State (source).

                              Comment

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