Categories
#spiritualintelligence

How did Christian doctrines come about?

Thought Leaders Series: 2018

Did they fall from heaven? Were they passed on by Jesus?

By way of context let us examine some building blocks. First, systematic theology. This term which sounds like something out of an engineering lab, is a discipline of Christian theology that formulates an orderly, rational, and coherent account of the doctrines of the Christian faith.

In other words, rather like a jigsaw puzzle, systematic theology tries to bring pieces together from the Christian bible to justify or qualify the superiority of the faith over other faiths or beliefs.

The problem however, is that unlike a jigsaw puzzle the pieces do not fit together. Hence the need for revision of doctrines overtime in light of new truths.

This problem is not unique to Christianity, it is also a problem with all written or coded religious Texts. Hence the reason why we have various sects, groups or denominations in the Abrahamic faiths for example.

In Christianity for instance, it is rather perplexing that The Binding of Isaac (the Genesis 22 story of God asking Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac) was used as a argument for the formula of the Christian doctrine of Atonement.

Most ancient and modern Jewish scholars and thinkers agree that the story was used as a deterrent from child sacrifice, which was a common practise of Semitic people at the time.

In fact, the original folklore (the oral tradition before the story was coded in text after the Exile) had it that Abraham sacrificed Isaac to enact the Covenant. However, reformers like Ezra decided to remove the notion of a God who requires human sacrifice to stop the practise, by redacting the story after the Exile.

So, how do we justify a God that refused the sacrifice of Isaac, providing a substitute instead, with a God that later demands the sacrifice of his son as a substitute for Adam’s sin?

An all powerful, all knowing, all present, and all loving God would have no need to hold a grudge against his creation.

Perhaps a better idea of Atonement (if ever there is a need for one) could be found, not in the blood sacrifice of Jesus, but in the life and teaching of Jesus, for example, in John 14:9, Acts 10:38.

The implication of a God who seeks the blood of his incarnate son to forgive humanity, does not show the loving father that Jesus teaches about, for example, in Matthew 7:9-11.

If anything, it demonstrates a wrathful and vengeful God who holds malice against his creation. A God who requires ‘justice’ or “an eye for an eye” (Ex. 21:24) if you please, the very premise that Jesus challenges in Matthew 5:38-42.

In fact, when we take a step back in the sequence of the doctrinal chain, we arrive at the origin: The Fall (Gen. 3). The Fall is a doctrine closely related to the doctrine of Original, or Ancestral sin by one of the Church Fathers, Irenaeus (Bishop of Lyon). This doctrine itself is fraught with many gaps which I can not delve into for the sake of brevity.

Perhaps it goes to show that the Bible is not infallible, but rather, a task in theology. A quest to understand the dynamics of this world.

In fairness, these thinkers did their best with the knowledge at their disposal. But sadly we have pitched our tents where they stopped, instead of examining their writings, and addressing the ethical gaps in light of human development.

Human Capital Development: Healingsprings fellowship

http://www.healingsprings.org.uk

Reachout | Revive | Recover

Categories
#spiritualintelligence

Moral Critique of the Book of Exodus_3

Today @ Healingsprings fellowship

“They fashioned a tomb for thee, O holy and high one

The Cretans, always liars, evil beasts, idle bellies!

But thou art not dead: thou livest and abidest forever,

For in thee we live and move and have our being.” — Epimenides, Cretica, (6th-century BC philosopher)

Epimenides was not a Christian, in fact he wrote this piece centuries before the birth of Jesus. His writing will go on to inspire the writer of Acts (17:28) and Titus (one of the so-called Pastoral epistles which are regarded by a majority of scholars as pseudepigraphical). By way of definition, pseudepigraphal writings are literary works that were traditionally ascribed to an individual with a view to give it influence. For instance, Titus was traditionally ascribed to Paul, but in-depth study of the text has proved otherwise.

That aside, this and other pastoral letters give us insight into the doctrinal wrangling in the early church. This is pertinent because in recent weeks we have been exploring the impact of Book of Exodus on slavery and colonialism. Hence the admonition in Titus 3:8-9 as a safeguard with a view to consolidate the doctrinal position for the congregation.

Sadly, we do not yet have any scientific evidence (letters or archaeological artefacts) to assess the positions of rival factions in these disputes. But clearly they were also followers of the faith who had issues with particular practices or doctrines. By and large, we can deduce various scenarios through careful analysis of the contents of these letters in understanding the sort of challenges faced by the early church.

But perhaps most importantly, these writings gives us understanding of the source of the tradition of believing by ‘faith’, as to understanding through rational or critical thinking. When followers are expected to receive doctrines by ‘faith’ it leaves no room for questions or debate. Ofcourse, this is all done with a view to protect the congregation (babies in the faith) from the influence of ‘other’ ideas.

It also demonstrates why the faith has always been hostile to any form critical analysis. The effect of this worldview is highly pronounced in cultures where obedience, especially to those in authority is engraved in upbringing, case in point – Africa. As such we have masses who blindly follow faith leaders, even those who have had the privilege of the rigours of higher education.

This mindset permeates all aspect of life hindering self determination, technological advancement, human progress; and appreciation of our common humanity as we retreat to our various strongholds,

So we have people spending hours in church ‘waiting on the Lord’, looking to the sky for a miracle, or to a cult figure in the shape of a church leader; instead of seeking to understand who they are, their purpose, and harnessing their skills and talent in making this world a better place.

The writings of Epimenides also highlights early ideas of resurrection and understanding of the divine, hence they were seamlessly syncretised with Christianity.

Join us at 3pm today for the series: From Order to Chaos: a study on Exodus

St John the Evangelist Hall, Church Rd, Sidcup DA14 6BX

Healingsprings fellowship: Human Capital Development

http://www.healingsprings.org.uk

Reachout | Revive | Recover

Categories
#spiritualintelligence

A Moral Critique of the Book of Exodus

Today @ Healingsprings fellowship

Last week I noted that the Book of Exodus is problematic. And that it promotes a sense of entitlement which byproducts include: nationalism, colonialism, slavery, unfair trade, exploitation, genocide, and religious wars.

No matter which angle we treat the Text from, we are still faced with these problems. Hence Prior argues that,

[a]ny association of God with the destruction of people must be subjected to an ethical analysis. (p. 2).

This is one of many challenges facing religion today, hence the need for critical studies. Sadly, no critical studies are handled in churches or seminaries. In fact the latter is designed to ‘inseminate’ (hence the term seminary, meaning to plant a seed) students with traditional doctrines.

As a result we have a faith which fails miserable in addressing the challenges facing humanity.

So, how do we reconcile the message of universal love and kindness taught and preached by Jesus as recorded in the New Testament, when we are presented with an angry God that will not let go until he sees the brutal death and blood of his son as a ‘sacrifice’ or ‘atonement’.

Even if we go with the idea that a transition took place from the Old to the New Testament

  • how do we then reconcile the fact that even with the death of Jesus as an ‘atonement’ for sin we are still faced with the possibility of punishment here on earth (by God or/and the Devil) for non-compliance, and eternal judgement in hell fire after death?

These doctrines are grossly contradictory. It will seem that if humanity relied on Christianity it is destined to doom.

To this end there are issues with the idea of the Bible being ‘infallible’, because the writings and doctrines it presents are largely disjointed, as such, they offer contradictory angles on major moral and social issues, which breeds fundamentalism.

These Texts were written by people trying to make sense of their world through the lenses of their religious framework. Some of their ideas are useful, others pose major problems, especially on human rights and morality.

Hence new coverts to Christianity were called to faith almost as a crash course amidst persecution, owing to the complexity of trying to teach Judaism as foundations, before moving to the revisions of doctrines carried out by Jesus.

In similar vein the notion that Christianity is cast in stone is dangerous, it leaves no room for advancement – which is clearly what Jesus was doing with similar doctrines in Judaism.

Hence the call today for revision of Christian doctrines, hence the call for theological education through the instrument of tertiary institutions, not seminaries, especially for those called to lead churches and parachurch organisations.

Join us at 3pm today for the series: From Order to Chaos: a study on Exodus

St John the Evangelist Hall, Church Rd, Sidcup DA14 6BX

Healingsprings fellowship: Human Capital Development

http://www.healingsprings.org.uk

Reachout | Revive | Recover