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Featured "Not Far the Kingdom of God"

Discussion in 'General Theology' started by Pavel Mosko, Sep 11, 2019 at 5:56 PM.

  1. Pavel Mosko

    Pavel Mosko Arch-Dude of the Apostolic Supporter

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    A thread on the relationship between Stoicism and Christianity. (I may actually throw in the relationship of Christianity with Zoroastrianism as well, and even talk a bit about pre-Christian paganism etc).

    One problem I have seen in Christianity is a lot of defensiveness. Christians, especially on the social conservative end of the spectrum (Protestants especially), frequently cannot actually acknowledged when there is anything positive to say when it comes to other religions and philosophies even when they actually mirror traditional Christian values and beliefs! And it's not just that, there are even times when the Judeo-Christian tradition has been positively influenced by such things.

    Anyway back to the defensiveness, as Christians we believe in the exclusiveness of our Faith as far as Salvation, and having a restored relationship with God goes. So there is some degree of nervousness in some people who most likely equate or conflate the ability to say something positive about some other Faith tradition outside the Judeo-Christian tradition as some kind of slippery slope towards Unitarianism, or some other kind of belief. But I would maintain this should not be the case, you can acknowledged the positive and not ditch that Jesus is the only way to salvation etc.

    But I think this has been a problem for centuries. To start with it makes Christians and Christianity seem petty. Secondly, growing up especially attending parochial schools (Lutheran and Southern Baptist) Christians can be so much better at preaching than actually practicing their Faith. In particular, I recall the concept of hearing a lot about "Agape" growing up, but seeing or experiencing only on very, very rare occasions. I can say that a number of my secular instructors growing up were much better when it came to virtues like patience compared to some Christian counter parts. Anyway, this phenomenon undermines the veracity claims of the Faith. It makes people wonder if Christianity is simply an idealogy or such concepts like Agape are just slogans and ideals that are never realized.

    And thirdly, like the previous statement concerning slogans and ideologies etc. I think some of this concept is something that is God allowed or ordained, namely many Christians have a deeply flawed concept concerning what it means to be a Christian. It's for that reason, that I think the rise of postChristian society is not entirely bad. It's bad in general but sometimes it is a reaction to something areas of institutional Christianity that are not worth saving. Essentially in my own life, I left the Faith for a fear years and came back but was better off for it in the end and I think that sometimes also happens with other people.

    Anyway leave your comments, objections and other responses below and take care,
    Pavel

    PS - the thread got so long I forgot the 1st part! There is some good life advice to be had from Stoicism, it has a number of Christian parallels if you pay attention. IF you don't mind a few PG-13 cuss words, I recommend "10 Stoic Teachings Of Marcus Aurelius We Desperately Need Today (Practical Stoicism)"

     
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  2. Maria Billingsley

    Maria Billingsley Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Without Christ, there would be no solution to the human condition. It puts all other attempts and knowing "The Creator" a moot point as God made a path to Him and it included certain truths not found in other religious orders. That being said, it is important to know exactly what it is to be a Christian.

    Christian:
    A Holy Spirit filled individual who has decided that Jesus Christ of Nazareth is the only way to be reunified and restored to the Father once lost through Adam and Eve.
    Blessings
     
  3. Oscarr

    Oscarr Senior Veteran Supporter

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    Sounds a very complicated way of following Christ!
    Reminds me of what Jesus said, "Thank you Father that you have not revealed Your gospel to the wise and intelligent, but to babes!" Also Jesus said something about unless a person comes to Him as a little child he cannot be His disciple.
     
  4. Chadrho

    Chadrho exercises by pushing his luck Supporter

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    Yes, yes, and yes. It is frustrating how petty and closed minded Christians can sometimes be. It is as if nothing good or true can be found anywhere else. I think it is fear. The slippery slope, as you put it. It is ironic that we talk about faith so much, and yet tend to exhibit so much fear. Ironic, at least. But, alas...

    I am a huge fan of Stoicism. There are points of continuity, and clear points of depature. There are apocryphal letters between Paul and Seneca (I believe it was Seneca). They can be found online. When I first heard about them I was so excited. But, they are disappointing. Basically, each one tells the other one how wonderful they are (my opinion). I was hoping for an depth discusion (even though apocryphal), but no. Just a bunch of back slapping.

    At any rate. Don't let the fear mongers stop you from learning. This is God's creation. All truth is God's truth. May we live according to (Christ's) nature.
     
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  5. Jonaitis

    Jonaitis Soli Deo Gloria

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    I notice on this site that Protestants, especially Baptists, are almost always generalized.

    My experience and perspective is quite the opposite. Great thinkers within Protestantism I've read and heard throughout history were men who knew a great deal about other religions and philosophies, and is the major influence in my own life to read the works of such, even Calvin. In the circles I hang around, there are more learned men in these subjects than unbelievers I know or seen. The Puritans themselves were well-educated in such works and used such language to explain theology.

    Anyways, I have a Reformed friend who constantly posts Stoic quotes, like Seneca...I suppose we break that stereotype that non-Protestants portray us as.
     
  6. Chadrho

    Chadrho exercises by pushing his luck Supporter

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    Early Christians recognized the continuity between Stoicism and Christianity. Hence, the apocryphal letters between Paul and Seneca. Especially important was how both employed Heraclitus' concept of Logos. Certainly, the Stoics did not conceive of the Logos being incarnate. Nonethless, when John states that all things came into being through the Logos that would have some resonance with the Stoic idea that logos (i.e. reason) permeated nature.
     
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  7. Gracia Singh

    Gracia Singh Newbie Supporter

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    I have seen some quotes from Calvin which echo this thought; that however wrong over all, some truth, virtue, and correct ideas still exist in other faiths.

    That's pretty obvious, imho. Islam teaches devotion to one god and piety. Buddhism values compassion and non-attachment to material goods. Hinduism values fasting and prayer. So, other faiths get some things right. And some pagans behave like better Christians, ethically, than most of us do. So, there's that.
     
  8. Pavel Mosko

    Pavel Mosko Arch-Dude of the Apostolic Supporter

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    Good for you! A lot of the post is based on my experience of some of the nonmagisterial Protestants later in life. Especially in the Pentecostal and Charismatic end of things. I think it quite common attitude among some of the nonsacramental Protestants, aka from the radical Reformation so to speak. I tend to look at a lot of threads on social issues etc. as well as from the Spirit Filled board etc. and it seems a pretty common viewpoint.
     
  9. Pavel Mosko

    Pavel Mosko Arch-Dude of the Apostolic Supporter

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    Yes and no. The Stoics did not have the concept of a God that was both imminent and transcendent. (Conceived of a God that is transcendent) The concept that God could suffer especially was a bugaboo. But there is some potential there for things like parousias and theophanies. There is a good blog article that covers the relationship between Logos and the Aramaic concept of Memra if you are interested.

    Logos and Memra
     
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  10. Chadrho

    Chadrho exercises by pushing his luck Supporter

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    I am interested. I'll check it out Thank you.
     
  11. Pavel Mosko

    Pavel Mosko Arch-Dude of the Apostolic Supporter

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    I wasn't given a choice this was the situation I stumbled upon becoming a believer by virtue of running across many unhappy life experiences.
     
  12. Pavel Mosko

    Pavel Mosko Arch-Dude of the Apostolic Supporter

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    And on the Zoroastorians front, here is something I blogged on a few years back.


    Contemplating the Coming of the Magi
    Sometimes we Christians like to divide the World into neat little categories. We like to have “believer" and "unbeliever", "Christian" and "non-Christian" and so forth Sometimes however real life doesn’t conform to such simplistic thinking. Because in the Gospels for example "Those outside Israel" sometimes could be "Close to the Kingdom of God", while those that were of natural Israel and devoutly practiced the old religion had "hearts that are far from God".

    A good example of that is the coming of the Magi in the gospels. Those folks were mostly likely Zoroastrians from the region of Nineveh, (if we take the testimony of later Church historians seriously). These people had a close connection to the Jews during the first time of Exile. Some people think of Zoroastrians as "pagans" but they really have more in common with Monotheists in their beliefs than the other people of the pagan world. When we think about them we should realize that in the early Scriptures not all the people of God came directly from Abraham's line. Every so often we encounter someone like Melchizedek or Job. Even Balam the prophet, before he became corrupt was seen as being a "prophet of God".
    When we contemplate the Magi, we should not forget that Abraham himself came from their region a few millennia previously. In fact, the name Hebrew is said to derive from this culture. It comes from an ancient Akkadian or Proto-Aramaic word meaning “They that dwell beyond the River” (Euphrates).
    We therefore should not be surprised why the events recorded in the Book of Jonah take place. We have sayings “what comes around goes around”. And that certainly is true with the Kingdom of God itself. Or as scripture says, in Ecclesiastes 11: 11 “Cast your bread upon the waters, for you will find it after many days.”
    God who stands beyond Time itself knows all things. Besides being the place where the ancient Hebrews came from, he also knew it as a place that held great future promise for Christianity.
    Isaiah 19: 23In that day there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria, and the Assyrians will come into Egypt and the Egyptians into Assyria, and the Egyptians will worship with the Assyrians. This is one of those prophesies that already has been at least partially fulfilled. For the Coptic Christians and Syriac Orthodox Christians have been worshiping Christ and been in Communion with each other for nearly two millennia.
    It was the place that saint Thaddeus (aka Jude the apostle) later missionized and turned into an Apostolic See that stretched forth all the way to India and China, which lasted until the late middle ages and continues today (although greatly diminished). Besides that, this region has been the home of great saints like Isaac of Nineveh (Saint Isaac the Syrian).
    It is of course this same region and the Christians that dwell therein that very much need our prayers. For they struggle everyday against persecution and genocide by Islamic Fundamentalist groups like ISIS.


    wisemen.jpg
     
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  13. Phil W

    Phil W Well-Known Member

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    Perhaps you can tell us which other philosophies Jesus was a fan of?
    None, but the word of God.
     
  14. Pavel Mosko

    Pavel Mosko Arch-Dude of the Apostolic Supporter

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    I don't think he was a fan of any of them but there are parallels to Stoic philosophy in the NT in various places.


    Matthew 6:19 King James Version (KJV)
    19 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:


    This idea is not unique to Christianity. The stoics realized that people putting all their happiness on earthly success and riches was a dubious proposition. It would set them up for unhappiness as things changed or went away. The stoic aim was to cultivate an honorable or noble character because that was something that could not be taken away by the whims of fate.


    Matthew 6:27 King James Version (KJV)
    27 Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?

    Also a very Stoic sentiment.

    We are more often frightened than hurt; and we suffer more from imagination than from reality. — Seneca

    You have power over your mind not outside events, realize this and you will find strength. — Seneca


    I will post more on the topic, there's more stuff with Paul etc.
     
  15. Pavel Mosko

    Pavel Mosko Arch-Dude of the Apostolic Supporter

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  16. Pavel Mosko

    Pavel Mosko Arch-Dude of the Apostolic Supporter

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    Years ago I wrote a Blog series concerning this one Facebook guy I knew who was quite strict about attacking Christmas and the Christmas tree tradition in particular as being a form of paganism and even a kind of practice of idolatry. Anyway, I'm including some of the stuff I said near the end of that which fits the basic topic. (Some Christians can have some false ideas about the nature of culture that can be a kind of a social myth).



    B) One thing should also be said of Hebrew Culture before ending the post. Because Hebrew culture is the culture of the Bible, and the Jews are “God’s Chosen people” many people see Hebrew culture as something that is pure and Holy, spiritual etc. To those kinds of notions, I have to remind people that every culture beyond The Garden of Eden comes from somewhere else! Before Abraham left UR of the Chaldees he resided in a pagan land and had the culture of that land. You can see that in the Old Testament itself. Why do you think God is always appearing in the Pentateuch as a form of fire? That was a vestige of the Sumerian culture and religion that was part of the early Hebrew way of seeing the divine. Similarly, during the Captivity in Egypt the Hebrew culture adopted a number of things from the Egyptians: like the practice of stoning, they adopted their forms of poetry and wisdom literature (psalms, proverbs etc. is based on similar things the Egyptians did). Anyway, if paganism infects true religion and culture the Hebrews were infected 4 or 5 thousand years before the Christmas tree.


    Point 4) Some Positive Preaching From aspects of the pagan heritage
    Philippians 1:15-18New International Version (NIV)
    15 It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. 16 The latter do so out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. 17 The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. 18 But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.

    It's interesting that saint Paul only cares about one thing, that Christ is preached! He doesn’t sweat the details or motivations. So based on that I will make a few points.

    A) The Christmas tree has been a means of celebrating one of “the essential truths” of Christianity the Incarnation of Christ. The Christmas tree does not corrupt true religion but utilizes and engages contemporary culture for the message of the Gospel much like Paul preaching at Mars Hill in the book of Acts.

    B) On the subject, of the pagan heritage It should be noted that the pagan heritage has given us a few good things. Without evangelism of the Germanic tribes their might not be any military chaplains. One of the conditions for evangelizing the Germanic tribes was they demanded clergy that would go into battle with them (to replace their priests of Odin and Thor that went with them into battle to have the favor of the gods). And from these we got the warrior priests of the crusades, that is the early ancestor of the modern military chaplain. Can anyone truly say that this is not a benefit? (Given how vulnerable young people are during peace time, let alone when fighting an actual war.)
     
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2019 at 8:56 AM
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  17. Phil W

    Phil W Well-Known Member

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    Instead of wasting your time on the thoughts of unbelieving Greeks, why not just stick with Jesus' teachings?
    Who cares if there are similarities to the messages.
    Look at the motives for the outlook.
    Jesus' was love God above all else, and love your neighbor as you love yourself.
    Can a Greek top that?
     
  18. Pavel Mosko

    Pavel Mosko Arch-Dude of the Apostolic Supporter

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    Have you ever heard of "the Trinity", and do you believe that God is three persons in One essence?



    Thanks for exemplify why the thread exists.
     
  19. charsan

    charsan Charismatic Episcopal Church

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    I am afraid this can be me because of my time as an evangelical (I am in recovery now :) ) Though now it is harder for me to accept evangelical doctrine than other religions
     
  20. Pavel Mosko

    Pavel Mosko Arch-Dude of the Apostolic Supporter

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    Yep. Back in 1996-1998 I was a part time student of Fuller Theological Seminary at the time I was going to a nondenominational Charismatic Churches (actually one of the big ones in the whole "Apostolic and Prophetic" movement at the time). I was taking this Systematic Theology class in my first quarter there. We had a take home essay test where one of the questions was a scenario where you have a friend who is of another religion and he asks you about Christianity out of curiosity but it basically along the lines of the OP. And the topic covered in class was Imago Dei where we spoke briefly about this kind of situation.


    While I mentioned that briefly, I actually went counter to that for most of the essay mentioning the usual tropes of Spiritual Counterfeits, but also talking about Political Correctness and Humanism etc. In general, it is really hard for folks coming from that background to relate to the idea of God as the Logos of Truth etc. Even though in more Eastern Philosophy I was exposed to in my college years I found something that should have made that more palatable like the parable of "the 8 Blind Sufi Wisemen and the Elephant", but entering the Charismatic movement after being away from Christianity in college, I sort of put aside that kind of thinking, and only began to think about stuff like that after many problematic experiences coming across bad doctrine, and various other problems.
     
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2019 at 10:20 PM
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