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Christian philosophy brought peace to Europe and America

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GuyBarry
1241600.  Wed Jul 05, 2017 12:31 pm Reply with quote

Celebaelin wrote:
These are not 'religious wars' these are your ordinary, bog-standard, wars for political or economic gain paid for by the blood of the populations of the involved nations.


So that's all right then! Christianity didn't get rid of war; it just got rid of wars in its name. I'm sure that all the people killed in these non-religious wars will be sitting in heaven delighted to know that they died for "bog-standard" purposes.

(Clearly the Troubles in Northern Ireland don't count either, because it wasn't a proper "war".)

 
Jenny
1241612.  Wed Jul 05, 2017 1:12 pm Reply with quote

Islam - a bigger player in terms of religion on the world stage - espouses non-violence in exactly the way Christianity does, and the terroristic actions of some Muslims are indistinguishable from terrorism carried out in the past by Christians (bearing in mind that Islam is a few centuries younger than Christianity and that developmentally as a religion it is about on a par with the crusades in mediaeval Europe. )

https://www.thenation.com/article/islams-nonviolent-tradition/

http://www.rohama.org/en/content/513

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sarah-sayeed-phd/100-muslim-leaders-suppor_b_846959.html

A recent answer to the question about Islam and violence came from a Muslim guy on Quora.com recently and I'm copying it here because it's relevant:

Quote:
All, I repeat, ALL verses of violence in the Qur’an are about self defense at a time when the muslims were under attack to the city they had fled to, after they had fled the city where they were brutally persecuted for twelve years. The Makkans were attacking the Muslims of Madinah (previously known as Yathrib) due to the growing number of converts to the Islamic religion in spite of the Makkan idol pilgrimage trade, and their best efforts to eradicate Islam. The Muslims fought back, not because the idol worshippers were non muslim, but because they were fighting them. Islam is not a pacifist religion.

 
Celebaelin
1241632.  Wed Jul 05, 2017 3:32 pm Reply with quote

At no point did I suggest in any way that any war was
GuyBarry wrote:
...all right...

GuyBarry wrote:
Christianity didn't get rid of war; it just got rid of wars in its name.

No; it didn't even do that. Neither did I suggest that it did.

GuyBarry wrote:
I'm sure that all the people killed in these non-religious wars will be sitting in heaven delighted to know that they died for "bog-standard" purposes.

Why did you think for a moment that I was in any way trying to justify that? Political expediency and moral justification are seldom even uneasy bedfellows never mind intimate friends.

GuyBarry wrote:
(Clearly the Troubles in Northern Ireland don't count either, because it wasn't a proper "war".)

I am severely tempted to respond to that with the contempt that it deserves but I will forgo that 'pleasure' and simply suggest that you are completely missing my point.


Last edited by Celebaelin on Thu Jul 06, 2017 12:57 am; edited 2 times in total

 
Celebaelin
1241638.  Wed Jul 05, 2017 4:42 pm Reply with quote

Jenny wrote:
Islam - a bigger player in terms of religion on the world stage

I assume you intend ‘than Buddhism’.
Jenny wrote:
- espouses non-violence in exactly the way Christianity does,

No it doesn’t, not exactly, Christianity promotes non-violence as an absolute but that is compromised by the practicalities of protection of the greater body at the expense of the few because though Church and state are not synonymous some sense of societal preservation under a generalised Christian basis is maintained. Violence is not in any way sanctioned by the teachings of Jesus as related by the New Testament however.

There’s this...
Quote:
John 18:8-13 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
8 Jesus answered, “I told you that I am He; so if you seek Me, let these go their way,” 9 to fulfill the word which He spoke, “Of those whom You have given Me I lost not one.” 10 Simon Peter then, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s slave, and cut off his right ear; and the slave’s name was Malchus. 11 So Jesus said to Peter, “Put the sword into the sheath; the cup which the Father has given Me, shall I not drink it?”
Jesus before the Priests
12 So the Roman cohort and the commander and the officers of the Jews, arrested Jesus and bound Him, 13 and led Him to Annas first; for he was father-in-law of Caiaphas, who was high priest that year.

And maybe to a certain extent also The Cleansing of the Temple Matthew 21:12–17, Mark 11:15–19, and Luke 19:45–48 (see post 1239248) but that is just a kind of hissy fit by comparison.

Islam has another view – more closely, retrogradely perhaps from some perspectives, related to ‘an eye for an eye’; I mentioned this earlier in this thread <E>actually in the parent thread which spawned this one).

Quote:
Surah 22 Verse 60
This is about them. As regards the one, who takes vengeance equal to the wrong that had been done to him, and has again been oppressed, Allah will surely help him *104 : Allah is Forgiving and Forbearing. *105
Comment by Maulana Maududi:
*104 The preceding verses referred to those persecuted people who could not retaliate and here 'the reference is to those victims of persecution who could fight back.
From this verse, Imam Shafi`i has concluded that "retaliation" will be effected in the way as life was taken in the original act. If a person is killed by immersion in water, the killer also should be put to death by immersion in water; or if a person is burnt to death, the killer also will be burnt to death. The Hanafites dispute this. According to them, retaliation against a murderer will be incurred in one and the same established way no matter how life was taken by the culprit in the original act.
*105 This verse (60) may imply two things: (1) Allah forgives that "killing" which is done in self-defence, though killing of people is not a good thing in itself. (2) As Allah, Whose slaves the Believers are, is Forgiving and Forbearing, they should also forgive and forbear as far as possible. Though they have the right of retaliation, they should not resort to carnage and massacre.

Jenny wrote:
...terroristic actions of some Muslims are indistinguishable from terrorism carried out in the past by Christians (bearing in mind that Islam is a few centuries younger than Christianity and that developmentally as a religion it is about on a par with the crusades in mediaeval Europe.)

Acts of violence against unarmed civilians are bad. Ultimately they are all the worse if they are clearly deliberate and cynical. There is a long history behind such acts between Christianity and Islam but religious opinions on the justification for reprisals differ.

Jenny wrote:
Quote:
All, I repeat, ALL verses of violence in the Qur’an are about self defense at a time when the muslims were under attack to the city they had fled to, after they had fled the city where they were brutally persecuted for twelve years. The Makkans were attacking the Muslims of Madinah (previously known as Yathrib) due to the growing number of converts to the Islamic religion in spite of the Makkan idol pilgrimage trade, and their best efforts to eradicate Islam. The Muslims fought back, not because the idol worshippers were non muslim, but because they were fighting them. Islam is not a pacifist religion.

This is a practical approach but it is not one advocated by Christian teachings.


Last edited by Celebaelin on Sat Jul 08, 2017 6:56 pm; edited 1 time in total

 
Celebaelin
1241650.  Thu Jul 06, 2017 1:40 am Reply with quote

Please may I remind posters that my assertion is

Celebaelin wrote:
Christian philosophy is directly or indirectly responsible for the transformation from a warlike to an agrarian/industrial culture in Europe and the Americas.


I think this is contentious enough as it is without considering the sins of Christian countries when faced with problems which might be solved by war but I accept that the issue is of relevance in distinguishing between a Christian state and an individual Christian and possibly of importance in establishing my viewpoint.

What I did not intend, but have certainly contributed to, is the evolution of the thread into a discussion of the moral justification for war - there is none from a Christian point of view despite the fact that fighting wars can prevent, and has in the past prevented, even greater tragedies from being perpetrated.

This however is rather far from my initial premise that the concept behind the structures (legal, political etc.) underlying European and American societies is based on Christian philosophy. Some matters of policy are harder to explain from a Christian perspective than others so this is a very sweeping assertion even without the added strain of carrying with it the heavy load of armed conflict. War is an external rather than an internal matter and as such it was not my intention that it feature so prominently in the analysis of my assertion.

I would prefer it if assumptions were not made regarding my nature as a cold-blooded, murdering, warmonger with an English supremacist agenda as I prefer to think of myself as Welsh.

 
Jenny
1241673.  Thu Jul 06, 2017 10:10 am Reply with quote

I don't think any of us would have thought of you as a cold-blooded murdering warmonger of either the English or Welsh persuasion Cele :-)

Quote:
Surah 22 Verse 60
This is about them. As regards the one, who takes vengeance equal to the wrong that had been done to him, and has again been oppressed, Allah will surely help him *104 : Allah is Forgiving and Forbearing. *105
Comment by Maulana Maududi: (followed by comment)


But this is just comment by one imam and has no more authority in the Muslim world than the Episcopal Bishop of New York, William Manning.

The Episcopal bishop of New York, William Manning wrote:
Our Lord Jesus Christ does not stand for peace at any price...Every true American would rather see this land face war than see her flag lowered in dishonor...I wish to say that, not only from the standpoint of a citizen, but from the standpoint of a minister of religion...I believe there is nothing that would be of such great practical benefit to us as universal military training for the men of our land.

If by Pacifism is meant the teaching that the use of force is never justifiable, then, however well meant, it is mistaken, and it is hurtful to the life of our country. And the Pacifism which takes the position that because war is evil, therefore all who engage in war, whether for offense or defense, are equally blameworthy, and to be condemned, is not only unreasonable, it is inexcusably unjust.


I got this quote from the Wiki article on Just War Theory, which sources the quote as from C. T. Bridgeman (1962). A History of the Parish of Trinity Church in the City of New York: The rectorship of Dr. William Thomas Manning 1908 to 1921. p. 256. I commend the rest of the article to you.

I take your point that your thread was not intended to devolve into a thread about war, just or otherwise. However, if the point is to discuss how societies became more peaceful and less warlike, and the thesis is that Christianity is directly or indirectly responsible for that, then surely the role of Christianity in war is at least part of that discussion.

 
Celebaelin
1241700.  Thu Jul 06, 2017 11:52 am Reply with quote

My apologies - I thought I'd already referenced Al Quran on 'an eye for an eye' within this thread but it was in the 'terrorism UK 2017' thread in post 1240208 repeated here for ease of reference.

Quote:
In the Torah We prescribed for them a life for a life, an eye for an eye, a nose for a nose, an ear for an ear, a tooth for a tooth, an equal wound for a wound: if anyone forgoes this out of charity, it will serve as atonement for his bad deeds. Those who do not judge according to what God has revealed are doing grave wrong. (Qurʾān, 5:45)


Jenny wrote:
I take your point that your thread was not intended to devolve into a thread about war, just or otherwise. However, if the point is to discuss how societies became more peaceful and less warlike, and the thesis is that Christianity is directly or indirectly responsible for that, then surely the role of Christianity in war is at least part of that discussion.

Masterfully put.

But Christianity, or rather Christianity as we must assume it was intended (IMO), has no role in war except maybe to keep its head down and care for the wounded.

 
bobwilson
1241725.  Thu Jul 06, 2017 7:09 pm Reply with quote

Ref post post 1241650

I also thought the discussion was wondering a bit far from the original statement so I’m glad you’ve brought it back to the central thesis.

Referring back to earlier posts – I think it’s been established reasonably well that the transformation (on the large scale) of Europe to an agrarian/industrial culture was initiated by the Pax Romana, with no assistance from Christianity. (I noticed your querying the Roman Empire as “industrial” – it was industrial in that it had what can only be described as factories – as distinct from artisan workshops; and even what could be reasonably described as industrial estates). There were other agrarian societies, but it’s fair to say that the Pax Romana introduced agrarianism (and to a lesser extent industrialism) on a Europe wide basis.

Thus the initial transformation cannot be said to owe anything to Christianity.

I see also your responses to the resurgence of settled society following the fall of Rome and the subsequent “Dark Ages” but I think you’re missing the point.

A settled society inevitably leads to an educated class of people, which in turn leads to experimentation with different modes of thought.

Now, I accept that Jesus lived in a far from settled society – Palestine being one of the more troublesome provinces of the Roman Empire. But Christianity is not an isolated or unique philosophy – similar philosophies are known to have arisen many times throughout history. Indeed, they continue to arise today – usually flourishing briefly in some small geographic area before disappearing almost unnoticed.

What Christianity had was Peter and, more importantly, Paul. It is difficult to find a historical figure who has had more influence on the course of human history than Paul. This clearly educated, intelligent man, operating in a well-settled society, was able to establish what we now call the Christian church. Crucially, his time of operation coincided with the transformational period between the expanding Roman Empire to the (as I said previously, inevitable) consolidating/declining Roman Empire.

The Pauline version of Christianity is, in fact, little more than plain common sense and in its’ simplest form can be boiled down to the instruction universally given by parents to their offspring to “play nicely with your brother/sister”. Pauline Christianity makes no attempt in the early years to bring the Christian message to the “barbarians” beyond the borders of the Pax Romana – instead it attempts (with varying degress of success) to claim a universality but operates exclusively within the protection of the PR (notwithstanding rumours of missions to places as distant as India).

That quote from “A Few Good Men” would be apposite at this point.

It is notable that the first serious persecution of Christians occurs as the decline of the Roman Empire becomes more visible.

Given the simplicity of the message (be nice to people) it’s almost inevitable that any educated person would agree with it, at least in principle.

What makes the Pauline church unique is that it recognises the inevitability of suffering, and accepts it as a necessary price to pay in a transitional phase.

So, what we have is a declining military empire coinciding with a philosophical position that states the bleeding obvious (to the settled peoples) that the key to human happiness is to “play nicely children”.

The former, as represented by Jack Nicholson, resent the fact that the latter are (in their estimation) taking advantage of their settled existence to pontificate whilst “real men” are manning the barricades; whilst the latter (Tom Cruise) are trying to explain that removing the barricades – or rather the barricade mentality – is the only longview sane approach.

The former are men of action, the latter are men of education.

In the long run the men of action will do what they always do – they’ll find a reason to smash their heads against a brick wall and call it courage. The educated men will also do what they always do – they’ll find a way to accommodate themselves within the prevailing world view.
Quote:

Christian philosophy is directly or indirectly responsible for the transformation from a warlike to an agrarian/industrial culture in Europe and the Americas.


In short, the assertion is written backwards. It is the transformation from a warlike to an agrarian/industrial society that allows (indeed, makes inevitable) the rise of Christianity (or something like Christianity).

Similarly, your statement

Quote:
my initial premise that the concept behind the structures (legal, political etc.) underlying European and American societies is based on Christian philosophy.


is inverted. Christian (or more accurately Pauline) philosophy is based on the legal and political structures which evolved (and are now represented by the structures in place).

There was no “aha” moment when lawmakers came across Christian teachings and thought “that makes sense”. Pauline philosophy is based on the laws and practices that were accepted in his time – which he, living inside a settled society, thought of as universal.

All of which makes it unnecessary to raise the matter of inter-religious wars (which are, of course, simply the result of infighting between different versions of Jack Nicholson, and have absolutely nothing to do with religion).

 
Celebaelin
1241754.  Fri Jul 07, 2017 8:04 am Reply with quote

bobwilson wrote:
Referring back to earlier posts – I think it’s been established reasonably well that the transformation (on the large scale) of Europe to an agrarian/industrial culture was initiated by the Pax Romana, with no assistance from Christianity.

The key word there being initiated. As regards its persistence and further development however; that is another matter.

bobwilson wrote:
(I noticed your querying the Roman Empire as “industrial” – it was industrial in that it had what can only be described as factories – as distinct from artisan workshops; and even what could be reasonably described as industrial estates) .

If you regard division of labour as the defining characteristic of an industrial process then I suppose so. Does the fact that carters and wheelwrights and smiths were all involved in making a cart (body, wheels and rims respectively) make it an industrial process? What about batch processes? If so then, OK, industrial – just not in the ‘industrial revolution' sense. The Romans used wind-powered and water-powered processes for milling grain but examples in other uses are rare – this does not shout out ‘industrial mindset’ to me.

bobwilson wrote:
I see also your responses to the resurgence of settled society following the fall of Rome and the subsequent “Dark Ages” but I think you’re missing the point.

You set out quite a lengthy proposition here so it’s difficult to spot the point you suggest that I’m missing but I believe it to be this.

bobwilson wrote:
Quote:
Christian philosophy is directly or indirectly responsible for the transformation from a warlike to an agrarian/industrial culture in Europe and the Americas.

In short, the assertion is written backwards. It is the transformation from a warlike to an agrarian/industrial society that allows (indeed, makes inevitable) the rise of Christianity (or something like Christianity).

In part I concur but think this is ground we have already covered; to utilise your terminology it is the persistence of that settled society within the boundaries of the PR beyond the life of the Roman Empire that is overseen and directed largely by the church. Whilst I will agree that Christianity would probably not have taken hold without the existing PR it is the point beyond the eradication of the influence of Rome as a military power that is of interest. The appeal of Christianity under those circumstances was such that local empire building in the military sense did not recur within that sphere of influence (by definition in fact).

bobwilson wrote:
Similarly, your statement

Quote:
my initial premise that the concept behind the structures (legal, political etc.) underlying European and American societies is based on Christian philosophy.

is inverted. Christian (or more accurately Pauline) philosophy is based on the legal and political structures which evolved (and are now represented by the structures in place).

This is interesting. I am not a great fan of Paul because some of his attitudes, whilst in keeping with the teachings of Rome, have latterly become very contentious.

Quote:
To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews... To those not having the [Jewish] law I became like one not having the law...

So you are saying that the adoption of Roman laws and principles by St. Paul is instrumental in easing Christian insertion into the Roman world (albeit with no shortage of bumps in the road). Is this anything more than a recommendation/instruction to worshippers not to break the law? That would seem sensible if they were already regarded with suspicion or as a threat to Roman authority. You suggest so and frankly I’m inclined to agree with you – certainly Paul’s writings will have been treated with reverence by the church.

Not by the Romans however. Unfortunately the gods and the semi-divine status of the emperor were central to the authority of Rome so the classic test of allegiance to sniff out worshippers of the (illegal) Christian cult comes about.

Quote:
Pagans were probably most suspicious of the Christian refusal to sacrifice to the Roman gods. This was an insult to the gods and potentially endangered the empire which they deigned to protect. Furthermore, the Christian refusal to offer sacrifices to the emperor, a semi-divine monarch, had the whiff of both sacrilege and treason about it.
Thus the classic test of a Christian’s faith was to force him or her, on pain of death, to swear by the emperor and offer incense to his images, or to sacrifice to the gods.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/ancient/romans/christianityromanempire_article_01.shtml

The Roman concept of the pax deorum, the peace by which Rome was protected by the Gods, was threatened by this refusal to show devotion and Christians were persecuted upon occasion until their religion was made legal by Constantine in AD313.

When the Christians took over positions of authority in Rome obviously they did change laws; for example in AD 391, the worship of other gods was made illegal.

bobwilson wrote:
There was no “aha” moment when lawmakers came across Christian teachings and thought “that makes sense”.

No, but there was a breakthrough moment when the people making the laws were now Christians. I’ve been trying to find out what difference that made and it seems that the basis of modern law in many instances derives from the Corpus Juris Civilis
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corpus_Juris_Civilis

This "Body of Civil Law" was issued from AD529 to AD534 by order of the Eastern Roman Emperor Justinian I. Tribonian, who directed the work on the book, was obviously a Christian. Indeed when the text was ‘rediscovered’ (returned to common familiarity) around the 10th century

Quote:
...its public law content was quarried for arguments by both secular and ecclesiastical authorities.

This does not confirm that the book was written from the specific point of view of Christian precepts but it does intimate that at least it contains nothing that would have been considered ‘unchristian’ at the time.

Multiple Jack Nicholson’s huh? CGI beckons!


Last edited by Celebaelin on Sat Jul 08, 2017 11:54 am; edited 1 time in total

 
brunel
1241767.  Fri Jul 07, 2017 11:55 am Reply with quote

Celebaelin wrote:
bobwilson wrote:
There was no “aha” moment when lawmakers came across Christian teachings and thought “that makes sense”.

No, but there was a breakthrough moment when the people making the laws were now Christians. I’ve been trying to find out what difference that made and it seems that the basis of modern law in many instances derives from the Corpus Juris Civilis
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corpus_Juris_Civilis

This "Body of Civil Law" was issued from AD529 to AD534 by order of the Eastern Roman Emperor Justinian I. Tribonian, who directed the work on the book, was obviously a Christian. Indeed when the text was ‘rediscovered’ (returned to common familiarity) around the 10th century

Quote:
...its public law content was quarried for arguments by both secular and ecclesiastical authorities.

This does not confirm that the book was written from the specific point of view of Christian precepts but it does intimate that at least it contains nothing that would have been considered ‘unChristian’ at the time.

Multiple Jack Nicholson’s huh? CGI beckons!

Whilst you say that Tribonian was "obviously" a Christian, I was under the impression that there is some uncertainty over that.

There were accusations at the time that Tribonian may have harboured unorthodox views, and some texts suggest he may have retained at least some sympathy for earlier non-Christian practises, perhaps influenced to some extent by his interest in the culture and philosophy of ancient Greece.

 
Jenny
1241773.  Fri Jul 07, 2017 1:45 pm Reply with quote

Celebaelin wrote:

Is this anything more than a recommendation/instruction to worshippers not to break the law? That would seem sensible if they were already regarded with suspicion or as a threat to Roman authority.


How is this different from Jesus' instructions to render unto Caesar what is Caesar's?

I have to say I am finding bobwilson's thesis quite convincing. If you compare it to life in regions dominated by other religions, I think his 'settled culture allowing religion and philosophy to flourish' argument applies there too. If you, for example, consider the four hundred years in which southern Spain was under Moorish rule, it was a pretty peaceful period, all things considered.

 
Celebaelin
1241782.  Fri Jul 07, 2017 3:27 pm Reply with quote

brunel wrote:
Whilst you say that Tribonian was "obviously" a Christian, I was under the impression that there is some uncertainty over that.

Nominally by the laws of the time he must have been. Assuming, that is, that the law of AD391 was still in effect, which is a moderately safe assumption I would think.

brunel wrote:
There were accusations at the time that Tribonian may have harboured unorthodox views, and some texts suggest he may have retained at least some sympathy for earlier non-Christian practices, perhaps influenced to some extent by his interest in the culture and philosophy of ancient Greece.

I'm not arguing that Tribonian was or was not more inclined towards Christian thought or eg Platonic philosophy but I will say that it was easier to suggest to the common populace that a religious stance rather than a philosophical one was what might bring about ultimate reward for a goodly and peaceful life.

That's still not very clear is it? Bureaucrats would be more likely to be aware of alternative modes of thought that the illiterate masses but would still be required to profess Christianity to promote unity and to acknowledge its value in maintaining peace and order.

<E> Needed fixing!


Last edited by Celebaelin on Sat Jul 08, 2017 7:20 pm; edited 4 times in total

 
Celebaelin
1241784.  Fri Jul 07, 2017 3:45 pm Reply with quote

Jenny might have wrote:
Precis = I quite like bobwilson's idea

I'm sorry if I've misrepresented you at that point (especially the 'Little Ern' comparison).

I can't say that bw's post, or perhaps more fairly your interpretation of it, is a great leap forward from my pov bearing in mind the idea I thought we'd agreed on of relinquishing the 'warring' portion of the argument.

The Christian backlash in Spain was quite heavy.

 
dr.bob
1242047.  Tue Jul 11, 2017 6:30 am Reply with quote

I'm finally back from my holiday and have been spending time catching up on this discussion. I'd like to thank everyone for the interesting and well-behaved debate that's been going on in my absence.

As you might imagine, I have quite a few points I want to catch up on. That could result in a monster post that nobody can be bothered to read, so instead I'll try and post shorter discussions about a few key individual points that I think have arisen from this. Starting with:

Celebaelin wrote:
The concept of proof you have is inappropriate for this subject. Historical interpretations are exactly that – interpretations. The sort of absolutism you are striving for is unobtainable because the premises are not testable.


I know this is going back a bit, but it's an important bedrock for any discussion of history. I'll agree that my natural instinct to apply scientific rigour to any discussion may be inappropriate in this context. However, I disagree with your assertion that the premises are not testable. History is, at the end of the day, a set of factual events that happened to real people. Where interpretation of history is required is where we only have incomplete facts and part of the picture.

However, the facts that we do have allow us to test any interpretation. If I were to make a bold claim that the Japanese army was the best in history and had never lost a battle, a few people might point me to a WWII history book and invite me to consult some of the facts therein. Interpretation of history is fine and necessary but, if an interpretation conflicts with the facts that we know about that period of history, it is possible to claim that it is simply wrong.

Celebaelin wrote:
Counter example is not a disproof because the notion may only apply under general or limited circumstances as it is not a physical law but a notion which seeks to explain how and why past events progressed.


That rather depends on the notion. If I merely said "The Japanese army was the best in history", that's a more vague, general statement that a specific counter example would be hard pressed to disprove. If, however, I claimed that they'd never lost a battle, then the counter example of WWII is a disproof of the statement.

You are claiming that Christian philosophy helped transform Europe from a warlike culture to a peaceful one. If it can be established that the level of warfare and bloodshed did not noticeably reduce even after hundreds of years of Christian philosophy being well established in Europe, then I fail to see how that could not be considered a disproof.

 
dr.bob
1242052.  Tue Jul 11, 2017 8:07 am Reply with quote

Celebaelin wrote:
dr.bob wrote:
But what counts as the teachings of Jesus?

A silly point. In the absence of directly authored material we have only accounts and it must therefore be these accounts from which we draw our appreciation of the teachings of Jesus.


I didn't mean it as a silly point, it's a genuine attempt at understanding. In your assertion, you use the phrase "Christian philosophy." Thus, in order to properly debate your assertion, it is important to understand what this phrase means.

Some people define "Christianity" as the teachings of a particular church. Whether that be Catholic, Protestant, or any of the the other spin-off tribute acts, they're all broadly the same. However, they're all characterised by a rigorous interpretation of Biblical verses designed to inform people how certain words and phrases should be interpreted, rather than letting people make up their own minds.

Other people, who have problems with organised religion and the power base of the large churches, seem to prefer to restrict themselves to the actual words that Jesus was reported to have said. However, if you're going to rebel against the authority of the church, it seems only logical to me that you would also rebel against their decisions about which writings to include, or leave out, of the Bible. Without the authority of the church, then all reports of Jesus's sayings become fair game.

Celebaelin wrote:
I’ve not read those. Are you suggesting that they display a different interpretation of the teachings of Jesus? If so in what regard? If it does not involve a departure from the precepts of compassion, empathy and charity then this direction of argument is irrelevant to my assertion.


Here is an interesting website dealing with the Gospel of Thomas. It certainly seems to me to be different in the emphasis that is places on Jesus's teachings. There seems to be no mention of "turn the other cheek", for example, and little mention of "love thy neighbour" apart from one mention in saying 25 which says "Love thy brother like thy soul; watch over him like the apple of thine eye." where, of course, the interpretation of "brother" is open to question.

There is more mention of strife and division, such as saying 10 ("I have cast a fire onto the world, and see, I watch over it until it blazes up!"), saying 16 ("I have come to bring the world discord, fire, sword, war. Indeed, if there are five <people> in a house, they will become three against two and two against three - father against son and son against father"), saying 55 ("He who does not hate his father and mother cannot be my disciple"), and saying 101 ("He who has not, like me, detested his father and his mother cannot be my disciple"). Sayings that, of course, have parallels in the official gospels.

There are also some pretty cut and dry sayings, like saying 95 ("If you have money, do not lend it out at interest. Rather, give [it] to one from whom you will not get it back."). Not much room for interpretation there. Also rather misogynistic words, like saying 114 ("See, I will draw her so as to make her male so that she also may become a living spirit like you males. For every woman who has become male will enter the Kingdom of heaven.")

Celebaelin wrote:
Even more so because the majority of people whose lives have been influenced by Christian thought over the centuries are unlikely to have even heard of those books so they are irrelevant to my proposal if not to the nature of Christian thought as it might have been.


Following that logic, though, it can be argued that the majority of people whose lives have been influenced by Christian thought over the centuries have been largely uneducated and illiterate. So their concept of Christian philosophy would have been whatever was handed down to them by the church elders. For this reason, if we're talking about the influence of Christian philosophy in European history, it seems fair to take the Church's interpretation of Jesus's words as the definition of "Christian philosophy" rather than a modern interpretation based on a reading of just the reported sayings of Jesus.

 

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