Dear Panik, To the best of my recollection, I have never violently forced anyone to do anything but merely acted in self-defense and with discretion when attacked. I was a white boy in hoods not a gangmember. Yes, I practice martial arts and believe in self defense. But if you judge me for not allowing someone high on ice to stomp my head into the concrete because I'm walking to the store to get a sandwich as not turning the other cheek, then you have misunderstood the meaning of the scripture in context. If you believe paying taxes or fulfilling civic responsibilities is wrong (like voting for whom you believe is the best candidate) because you disagree with our system of Government or a current sitting President then you and Bin Laden agree on those points. I'm not for the Iraq war but I do care about supporting our troops and keeping the country I live in safe from terrorism along with our personal freedoms. That's about it. If you want to discuss a Christian's proper relationship to Government I will be happy to discuss it. In fact, further down I think you will see I am already laying the foundation for that discussion. The truth is I live a simple peaceful life, as do those in my assembly. We practice peace and forgiveness of our enemies. Sure when a new hardcore gangster comes into the home, for example, it is sometimes difficult because they may get mad and give someone a black eye or run away for a few days. But the process of positive change has begun and for the guys that stick with it, the vast majority become peaceful men and loving fathers and husbands. That's a fact that I visually observe day in and day out. And sure I think if we can stop Hitler from perpetuating genocide or North Korea from spreading nuclear bombs to terrorist organization that's good and very important to do and sometimes there is a price to be paid (even a high one). But that is simply a personal opinion I have and gaining understanding/wisdom is a life long process (though this should not be used as an excuse to procrastinate critical decisions) so all these personalized you/your baseless accusations need to be addressed in historical context to hopefully further enlighten you as to the enormous mistake you continue to make when failing to differentiate between politics and the invisible body of authentic christians. Let's stop worrying about me shall we and move on to the discussion..Panik wrote:If there were a nation of Wiccans who attacked another nation and slit thousands of throats because those peopel did not believe as the Wiccans do, then your analogy would make sense. I think you're reaching here. You know very well Kemo that what I say is true, and is even happening as we speak. Yes pagan cultures were warlike, but for the most part they were accepting. They did not usually force their gods onto others, or if they did, they did not force you to stop worshipping your original gods. It was not anything like the muslims or christians/catholics where there is no middle ground. You attack a country because they are nonbelievers and they don't "count", they are "savages" becasue they don't believe in your god. Then once you conquer them, you force the survivors to accept your god and punish them for worshipping their own. This is not only fact, this has happened over and over and over, and for you to deny it would really lower your standing in my eyes.
I think I now see that your position is warring Pagans allowing captured territories to often retain their gods (the ones they didn't have a problem with anyway). Sounds right in some places and times but I think you are downplaying how many pagan nations forced conversions to one or more of their gods upon victory. Also your complete dismissal of human sacrifice with a "so what?" doesn't win any points with me. I will continue to differentiate between what Christ said, did, and who he was and what many people and governments were and chose and continue to choose to do and how they use religion to further their aims and what an authentic Christian position is historically regarding same.
But first I wish to address how you have incorrectly profiled Christians. There are plenty of authentic peace loving Christians in this world not conquering, forcing, or punishing anyone or supporting "right wing fundamentalists" efforts. It is wrong of you to project blame for what some people and governments do onto them. But to properly address the issue we must move beyond the first century where the only thing Christians warred against were the lions in the arenas the Pagans were throwing them. This was the era of Christian pacifism (regarding war). Under the Roman Empire prior to Constantine, Christians were persecuted and during many seasons martyred for simply being Christian. The grace and love displayed by these early followers of Christ eventually won over their oppressors and conquered an Empire without Christians shedding even one other person's blood for the cause of Christ.
The Christian church of the first three centuries was pacifist. Check out Introduction to the History of Christianity, ed. Tim Dowley. Obviously Christ never would have fought for Rome. Paul would not have either. Nor any of the apostles or believers of that time. But Paul spoke highly of Rome when he wrote to the believers in Rome. He urged them to submit to the authorities, only a few years after a mass expulsion of all Jews from the city by the authorities during riots. Was the type of submission he was talking about including giving one's one life into the hands of generals and politicians? Or was he making another statement against violence, seeing what a tinderbox Rome was? When Jerusalem was leveled during the Jewish wars of 70 A.D., the Christians fled the city, sealing the rift between Jews and the Christian Church that was predominantly Jewish at the time. After that, it was viewed as a separate religion and later became known as a Gentile faith. History shows that there was no militancy to speak of within Christianity until Emperor Constantine got converted. In many Christian's eyes, this was the beginning of A wretched decline for the faith. The persecution of the Church ended which is wonderful, but then the bishops and scholars began to turn on themselves and bring persecution INTO Christianity! The Church even allowed the government to intervene in Church matters as if the Emperor knew anything about it.
Now is the time to differentiate between the invisible Church made up of those who have a real authentic relationship with Christ and a political church which is the new way to rise to the top: the Emperor likes it, therefore I will too. This kind of thinking swept through the social, political, and military ranks of society until it became the new tool to justify the empire and its actions. And leaders within the political church bought into their new influence and prestige, accepting the bribe of power and all its perks. The cross went on the shields, and off the soldiers went to fight for Rome (in the name only of Christ). This was the first horrible union of Christianity with nationalism/patriotism. Today there are multiple states with this same dysfunctional marriage. (Note: Theocracy was not a New Testament option, nor one today).
The majority of Jews in Israel at the time of Jesus were seeking a political revolution through the Messiah, to be free from Rome, but Christ didn't come for that AT ALL. His Kingdom Is above, as HE explained to Pilate. And so Christians live for the same Kingdom. But what about this big government thing that keeps sending me bills? Well, that's certainly not something to be ignored. None of our people really ignored it during the days of the early Church. Government played its role in every day life. But it definitely wasn't the center. When Paul was writing to the believers in Rome, he knew it was to the advantage of all Christians to have a government that was more or less indifferent to Christianity. That's all Paul needed to travel about freely, declaring the Gospel to every city and soul he could find. The system of the Roman empire favored communication and travel, and he used both of these extensively. All the Church needed was justice and the freedoms to declare the Gospel, meet together, and worship God. And that's all we need today. But even the word "need" is conditional. Obviously Satan was uncomfortable with the situation in 70 A.D. and made his move. Yet the Church surged forward when persecution broke out against it. It became outlawed with the harshest penalties, yet it refused to die. God made it grow under all circumstances, and brought good out of anything.
Today, the basics of what the Christian needs to practice Christianity in the open are justice, freedoms of speech, religion, and assembly. Of course, without these, we continue onward as always with all the more perseverance and conviction. But we shouldn't get ahead of ourselves in times of peace by taking more of the pie than we potentially can. Taking over the government is the same as the government taking over the Church. Nobody wins. What we favor is the secular government that Christians influence in the appropriate ways, chiefly seeing justice and those freedoms maintained. I make a point out of justice for a few reasons. God makes it clear throughout the entire Bible that He hates injustice, and judges nations accordingly when they embrace the latter. It's also to our advantage to advocate it in government. When any government takes a liking to injustice - whether it means rigged trials, allowing the rich to trample the poor, persecution of minorities - they take a disliking to true Christianity, because it defends the downtrodden. This comes out extremely well through the example of Nazi Germany, where a German pastor poured out his heart in writings from within a prison cell before dying under persecution by his government.
First they came for the Jews
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for the Communists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for me
and there was no one left
to speak out for me.
Pastor Martin Niemöller
Thus Hitler said: "One is either a Christian or a German. You can't be both." And what a profound statement this madman made. One could not be a true Christian and usher Jews or Gypsies into the gas chambers. Hitler saw that his ideal of German nationalism was incompatible with the Christianity of Christ. One had to go, and so there were many other examples like the pastor's in Nazi prisons and labor camps throughout Europe. So a government that loves injustice will hate Christianity.
Any government that demands absolute allegiance to its own cause will persecute Christians as well. Look at how every communist government in history has treated Christianity (in addition to other faiths). And even the "Christian" governments of Europe began persecuting non-conformist elements within the Church, particularly other denominations. In Latin America, governments such as El Salvador's turned on the Church when the Church finally turned against the government's absolute corruption and violence to break the unholy alliance. What are the patriotic causes of today's government? War, national security, and always money. If we don't start making the U-turn soon, this government will begin acting hostile towards people who take a public stance on these issues in a way that might jeopardize its own agenda. The rights spoken of above are already eroding away under the pressure of fear and greed. Anyways, from the historical vantage point, the proper nature of the relationship between Church & state should be one of friction. While the Church recognizes the right of government to govern, it refuses to be silent about any form of corruption or injustice it sees. This can come at great cost, but the cost of compromise has proven greater.
Ambrose refused to give communion to Emperor Theodosius after he'd ordered a grand massacre in Thessalonica. He later excommunicated Theodosius! That takes guts and a passion for Christ. Honestly there is much more to discuss along these lines and I will if you want me to.
The American Indian wasn't conquered because they were "heathen savages that needed Jesus." They were conquered because the manifest destiny of the US was to spread from sea to shining sea and rape the land and people for whatever wealth and power was there to be had. The Lakota, Cherokee, Black Foot et al were just on the land that the US wanted. This is the same reason that pagan nations went to war. Rome for example. It is especially weak argument for someone to say, "well, Rome let them continue to worship whomever they chose, as long as a temple of the emperor was erected in the land and you said 'kaiser kurios' when asked." It amounts to the same thing, lots of bloodshed, followed by slavery and subjugation for the purpose of increasing the glory of Rome in the way of land, money and power. Was Alexander less ruthless? Gengis Khan? What of the feuding samurai? The way you talk sometimes falsely makes it sound like Jesus invented war.
Next, did Jesus walk the earth or not? If you deny the historicity of Christ, you are going even against the atheists who believe there is a historical Christ. So how do atheists know there WAS a real Jesus? Did they see him? Did they read about him? If you say YOU don't rely on textual evidence, do you believe anybody in ancient history ever existed? You cannot sustain that argument without denying the availability and accuracy of historical evidence in general. If you do deny historical evidence in general, then your arguments for all the evils of "religion" are bogus, also, because he was never there to see the Crusades or the Salem Witch Trials or whatever he's claiming were the evil historical events perpetrated by "religion."
Regarding Bezerkers and substances. I have heard and read that drugs were used. I'm not an expert on this subject but I have seen this before. One example involves the use of A. muscaria as a psychoactive substance found throughout a variety of sources. Debates exist between Norse scholars on whether or not the mushrooms were consumed by Viking Bezerkers before going into battle. Recent reports exist as well about the use of the substance in a recreational manner, yet its current spiritual use is rarely heard of.
As for your "hearsay" argument, that's entirely bogus. The question of the existence of any historical figure is not done in a using juridical or testimonial means. It's done using forensic means. That includes written documents that are analyzed from a multitude of systems. One is comparative: you compare the way the text was written in one document with other documents known to have come from the same period. If their styles/modes match, they're probably contemporaries. But that's only one means. Another is carbon-13/12 dating of the original papyra to verify that the document is the right age; another is the internal-linguistic approach, where the author's statements are compared with the statements of other contemporaries on the same or similar subjects. On and on and on.... The point: it is FORENSIC not JURIDICAL analysis that we use to validate ancient texts. You, my friend, are playing fast and loose with logic.