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 Post subject: Re: Less Religious, Less Christian America
PostPosted: 090326 06:18 
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Monkee wrote:
"On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. 'Teacher,' he asked, 'what must I do to inherit eternal life? What is written in the Law?' He replied, 'How do you read it?' He answered: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind"; and, "Love your neighbor as yourself." 'You have answered correctly', Jesus replied. 'Do this and you will live.'" -Luke 10:25-28

There is no sense of reciprocity in this, which is where I find the Golden Rule of 'do unto others' insufficient, you don't do it because you'll get something out of it in return. The message is not to love your neighbor so that you will be loved, but to love him because you recognize that you are both parts of a greater whole, and to love that whole in all its parts is the fulfillment of the greatest commandment given to us by God. This I cannot see as a possible doctrine without God and religion.


A lot of times, I do things for people just for the sake of doing things for people -- I like helping people. At the end of the day, what's the difference between me and a Christian who is doing unto his neighbor as himself, or a charitable Muslim, or anyone from any other religion?

Not espousing a particular religion doesn't (in my view, at least...) degrade or render my kindness unkindness. Sometimes I semi-seriously refer to it as enlightened self interest -- it makes me happy to do these things for other people, so I do them. Does that really diminish the worth of my act?

I've met Christians before who've said that yes, it does. They tend to be the loud ones; the ones who think that it's just as kind tend to not speak up at all. Of course, the loudest minority will appear to be the majority. I've also met Christians who do good things because of the stick and the carrot -- if they do bad things, they go to hell; if they do good things, they go to heaven. But at the end of the day, they did good things, right? So do the intentions behind them really matter?

I think I said it before, but I'm not so much anti-Christian or anti-this or anti-that as I am anti-... in-your-face and anti-persecution. And yeah, sometimes I step over the line myself.


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 Post subject: Re: Less Religious, Less Christian America
PostPosted: 090326 15:43 
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Well I suppose the superficial difference is that you are doing it to help someone not because Allah commanded it. Does it diminish the worth of you act? No. Of course, there is something to be said for the idea that by doing good to your neighbor out of kindness or love would, indeed, be following the Great Commandment. I try not to get too far into soteriology before noon, but here's another quote to throw out there to be given some thought.

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’

Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’ They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ He will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” Matthew 25: 31-46

A bit long, I know, but it does point to the idea that following the Commandment, knowingly or unknowingly, is what is important. Not just because you think it'll get you in good with God, but out of a reflection of His love; indeed, the damned in this recognize him as Lord, yet failed to follow the Commandment, because they didn't see the poor and sick as worth their time.

And yes, I do believe that intentions matter, and that Christians who do it in order that they may be taken up into Heaven miss the point entirely. The idea is that it is impossible to get into Heaven based on good works alone (because of Original Sin and the subsequent flawed nature of Man, no one is perfect) is one that the church settled on well over a millenium ago. Another verse: "Who hath saved us, and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace" (2 Timothy 1:9).

Even I can be wrong, I know, but it is my opinion that good works done in order for the reward of Heaven are of less value, just as good works done in order for wages in this world are of less value than charity. Sadly, I have to run soon, but I want to leave with one final quote. Brother Lawrence was a quiet, humble, and extremely thoughtful man whose words are entirely unsuited to demonstrating the dangers of religion or proving that God wants the gays to burn. Consequently, he's been mostly forgotten these days. I can't remember the exact words - which I would have read in translation, anyway - but the idea he presents is "even if I were damned, I would praise God every day". While rewards may await us, it is not for their sake that we should act.

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 Post subject: Re: Less Religious, Less Christian America
PostPosted: 090327 05:02 
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I know I said would not repost, but I did want to say that I would have to agree with Monkee that in bringing up the "do unto others" mentality, I have indeed partially missed the point. Monkee really says it all better in his first post in this thread. Thanks for bringing that up man; I suppose I could have expounded more on that or at the least chosen my words better.

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 Post subject: Re: Less Religious, Less Christian America
PostPosted: 090327 16:38 
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"Do unto others" is a great place to start, it's good to step back and think how you would feel if you were on the other end of your actions. I just wanted to point out that it shouldn't be the final form of a moral code.

Much (platonic) love <3

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