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Re: [GTh] defining Christianity

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  • Dr Simon Gathercole
    Absolutely right, Dave. SJG ... Dr Simon Gathercole Senior Lecturer in New Testament University of Aberdeen 01224 272374
    Message 1 of 6 , Jan 18, 2006
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      Absolutely right, Dave.

      SJG

      At 06:35 18/01/2006 -0800, you wrote:
      > Time and again, I find myself stumbling over the term "Christian",
      > i.e. Christian Gnostic, Christian Jew, Pauline Christianity, etc.
      > What is Christianity? Am I wrong in thinking Christianity is the
      > worship of
      > the Resurrected Jesus? I understand "Christ" is Greek for Messiah,
      > but above and beyond that, the "Resurrection" is the foremost
      > principal of
      > Christianity; is it not? Past and present?
      > Dave R.
      >


      ------------
      Dr Simon Gathercole
      Senior Lecturer in New Testament
      University of Aberdeen

      01224 272374
    • David Arbuckle
      David.. Yeah, I think your right. I tend to think that the word christian in the historical context started with Paul s mission. It was unknown before that and
      Message 2 of 6 , Jan 18, 2006
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        David.. Yeah, I think your right.

        I tend to think that the word christian in the
        historical context started with Paul's mission. It was
        unknown before that and the first followers would not
        understand its use or meaning. I am still a member of
        the ebionite yahoo group that you and I discoverd a
        while back, and they don't buy into any of the
        ressurection stuff, but I am not sure that is how 1st
        or 2nd century Jewish followers felt. I am not
        convinced that the ressurection story is only a
        christian invention. It may be that James and the
        apostles believed that it ocurred.

        I think the living Jesus is much more interesting
        regardless.

        dave [arbuckle]
      • Judy Redman
        ... I think that Christianity is defined differently for different purposes and it depends quite a bit on who is defining it. I suspect that some of my
        Message 3 of 6 , Jan 19, 2006
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          Dave writes:

          > Time and again, I find myself stumbling over the term
          > "Christian",
          > i.e. Christian Gnostic, Christian Jew, Pauline Christianity, etc.
          > What is Christianity? Am I wrong in thinking
          > Christianity is the worship of
          > the Resurrected Jesus? I understand "Christ" is Greek
          > for Messiah,
          > but above and beyond that, the "Resurrection" is the
          > foremost principal of
          > Christianity; is it not? Past and present?

          I think that Christianity is defined differently for different purposes and
          it depends quite a bit on who is defining it. I suspect that some of my
          colleagues in the local ministers' fellowship privately think that I am not
          a Christian because I don't try to 'convert' the Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus
          and Pagans on campus. I know that during the current contraversy about
          homosexuality in my denomination both sides are saying that the other side
          has stepped outside the bounds of Christianity (which is perhaps not *quite*
          the same as saying they're not Christians). Mormons consider themselves
          Christian whereas many (other) Christian groups would say that they are not
          because they give scriptural status to other writings than the orthodox
          Christian canon.

          However, I think that Christianity is more than 'the worshiop of the
          resurrected Jesus'. Fundamental to Christianity is recognition of Jesus as
          both the Messiah foretold in the Hebrew scriptures and also the Son of God.
          Trinitarian Christians (the majority) say that he is/was in fact God, part
          of a Godhead comprising the Father (creator). Son (Jesus - God in human
          form) and Spirit. Unitarian Christians do not recognise Jesus as divine.
          In addition, there is the understanding that faith in Jesus brings
          forgiveness of sins and therefore eternal life (or eternal life in heaven
          rather than hell). I was called an agent of Satan by one of my colleagues
          last year, which I am *almost certain* means that he doesn't consider me to
          be a Christian, despite the fact that I have a fairly orthodox set of
          beliefs around the nature and place of Jesus. :-)

          I think that terms like Christian Gnostic and Christian Jew are often sloppy
          uses of language. A Jewish Christian is someone who has converted from
          Judaism to Christianity and therefore brings a particular worldview and set
          of beliefs with him/her. Following that analogy, therefore, a Christian Jew
          should be someone who has converted from Christianity to Judaism, but it may
          well indicate someone who has a belief structure that combines aspects of
          both faiths. A Christian gnostic is probably someone who includes Jesus
          as part of the pantheon of gnosticism. I am not really on top of current
          understandings of gnosticism, but as I understand it, belief in Jesus as
          part of the pantheon is not a necessary feature of gnosticism.

          Pauline Christianity is a term often used to describe the particular
          features of Christianity expounded in the Pauline epistles. Paul wrote
          before any of the gospels were written and he was interested in how to help
          budding (largely gentile) Christian communities in Greece, Rome and Asia
          Minor to deal with the demands of living Christian lives. Mostly he talks
          about practical issues like whether or not it was OK to eat meat offered to
          idols, did male gentile converts need to be circumcised, should people who
          converted without their spouse remain married or divorce the non-Christian
          spouse etc. He wasn't interested in the circumstances surrounding Jesus'
          birth or life, the stories he told, the fights he got into with the Jewish
          authorities - who Jesus was as a person, in fact - just in the significant
          of his death and resurrection for believers. Something I was reading
          recently put this much better than I have, but I can't remember exactly what
          it was and I wasn't looking for that info, so I didn't take note. It's
          highly likely to be in Robinson and Koester's "Trajectories through Early
          Christianity" but I don't guarantee it.

          Judy
        • Michael Grondin
          ... I think that this question raises a number of interesting issues. Relevant to the Gospel of Thomas, it seems to imply that that text isn t Christian,
          Message 4 of 6 , Jan 20, 2006
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            [David Renfro]:
            > What is Christianity? Am I wrong in thinking Christianity is the worship
            > of
            > the Resurrected Jesus? ... the "Resurrection" is the foremost principal of
            > Christianity; is it not? Past and present?

            I think that this question raises a number of interesting issues. Relevant
            to the Gospel of Thomas, it seems to imply that that text isn't Christian,
            because there's no indication in it of a belief in J's resurrection. But
            what does "resurrection" mean? Some take it to be like resuscitation, others
            that he had a new, "spiritual body", still others that the "resurrection"
            was a kind of spiritual metaphor ("He lives forever in our hearts", e.g.) I
            haven't read the Crossan-Wright book on resurrection yet, but I suspect that
            Crossan, like some other "liberal Christians", takes rather the latter view.
            Are these folks still Christians? THEY think so, and they certainly show
            reverence for the historical figure of Jesus and for what they take to be
            his authentic words. They're unorthodox, sure, and so is the Gospel of
            Thomas. But does that mean that they aren't Christian - and that it isn't?
            Aside from creeds, doesn't the word 'Christian' simply mean a belief that
            Jesus was the Messiah - the Christ - the annointed one? That gives him a
            special place, but doesn't entail resurrection, still less a particular
            interpretation of it. So, yes, I'd say you're wrong - both for past and
            present.

            Mike Grondin
            Mt. Clemens, MI
          • BitsyCat1@aol.com
            As I understand it, this is not exclusively a Christian concept, but is accepted Pharisaical theology which means that the principal cannot be the defining
            Message 5 of 6 , Jan 20, 2006
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              As I understand it, this is not exclusively a Christian concept, but is accepted Pharisaical theology which means that the principal cannot be the defining principal of the movement.

              Resurrection is not even exclusive to that particular type of Religious thinking.

              That the physical man Jesus was resurrected, as a demonstration of the
              conquest of death, as also in the Lazarus story, may be ONE or the core beliefs.

              But just the resurrection is not the defining value of Christianity

              Regards,
              John Moon
              Springfield,Tenn 37172
              johnmoon3717@...


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