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Post 20

Saturday, April 3 - 8:31pmSanction this postReply
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If you have anything impersonal and factually relevant to say or ask about the topic of the thread, Steve, then say it. Bill and Doug provided examples of how to do that.

If you have it in you to admit your criticism of my well-supported and careful statement was unfounded, and admit that you were rude in your response, even better.

As for my very incomplete list of your habits, it was nothing more than an epistemological courtesy. I simply don't make arbitrary claims. I actually expect people to expect me to provide evidence for my opinions. Mere memory on my part is not obsession. Don't flatter yourself or worry about what I think of you. It doesn't amount to my, say, mentioning my feud with you over and over and suggesting, say, that people boycott you.

I am sure no one wants to hear any more of this. I certainly don't.




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Post 21

Saturday, April 3 - 8:38pmSanction this postReply
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Ted, I have nothing to say to you. Our respective posts can speak for themselves.



Post 22

Saturday, April 3 - 8:40pmSanction this postReply
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Thanks Ted.  What a terrifying theology.



Post 23

Saturday, April 3 - 8:45pmSanction this postReply
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Thanks, Teresa. For what it's worth, I mentioned to a non-Objectivist friend of mine that I was involved in a discussion of whether Christians believe that Jesus was a morally perfect being and was met with a passionate "hell, no" response, and the immediate example of the episode of the money changers.

On another thread Luke asked the value people derived from Church. I would have to say that I had the opportunity to receive a self-education in the dominant philosophy of the Western world by taking seriously and paying attention to what I was taught by the church. It is people who don't take their religion seriously who remain with it by default.

The central source of the misunderstanding is the idea that this sort of religion is about morality. It is not. It is about sin and grace and divine salvation, not virtue and vice and Hellenistic happiness.




Post 24

Saturday, April 3 - 9:16pmSanction this postReply
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Bill, I have a question. Can you provide the source of Rand's description of Jesus as an ideal embodiment of man, and were those her exact words?

Looking for the quote I found this page of comments by non-Objectivistss on Rand's novels, very fun and enheartening to read:

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2115.Ayn_Rand_Atlas_Shrugged_the_Fountainhead



Post 25

Saturday, April 3 - 10:34pmSanction this postReply
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Paul explicitly argues that the "teaching of the cross" (i.e., the soteriology of the crucifixion, the idea that faith that Jesus died for your sins saves,) is a foolishness unto the Greeks. By this he means to Greek philosophers and their "wisdom," their notion of virtue. He denies that their "wisdom" is God's wisdom, i.e., that what they see as virtuous comports with what is good according to God's designs and commands, and effective for salvation. Paul denies that Greek notions of morality have anything to do with Christianity.

I do not believe that the concepts of virtue or morality in the Hellenic sense appear anywhere in the bible.

The ex-believer and wonderful essayist A. N. Wilson discusses this notion of the foolishness of God defeating the wisdom of the Gentiles at length in his book Paul, which I again recommend most highly.

1 Corinthians:

17 For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.
18 For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.
19 For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.
20 Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?
21 For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.
22 For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom:
23 But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness;

24 But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.
25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
26 For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called:
27 But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;
28 And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are:
29 That no flesh should glory in his presence.
30 But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:
31 That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.

(Edited by Ted Keer on 4/03, 10:55pm)




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Post 26

Sunday, April 4 - 8:12pmSanction this postReply
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“Bill, I have a question. Can you provide the source of Rand's description of Jesus as an ideal embodiment of man, and were those her exact words?” [Ted]


Here is Rand in the Playboy interview, March, 1964…

Q: You’ve been quoted as saying “The cross is the symbol of torture, of the sacrifice of the ideal to the nonideal. I prefer the dollar sign.” Do you truly feel that two thousand years of Christianity can be summed up with the word “torture”?

A: To begin with, I never said that. It’s not my style. Neither literarily nor intellectually. I don’t say I prefer the dollar sign—that is cheap nonsense, and please leave this I your copy. I don’t know the origin of that particular quote, but the meaning of the dollar sign is made clear in Atlas Shrugged. [Then she explains the meaning of the dollar sign as the symbol of the free mind.]

Now you want me to speak about the cross. What is correct is that I do regard the cross as the symbol of the sacrifice of the ideal to the nonideal. Isn’t that what it does mean? Christ, in terms of the Christian philosophy, is the human ideal. He personifies that which men should strive to emulate. Yet, according to the Christian mythology, he dies on the cross not for his own sins but for the sins of the nonideal people. In other words, a man of perfect virtue was sacrificed for men who are vicious and who are expected or supposed to accept that sacrifice. If I were a Christian, nothing could make me more indignant than that: the notion of sacrificing the ideal to the nonideal, or virtue to vice. And it is in the name of that symbol that men are asked to sacrifice themselves for their inferiors. That is precisely how the symbolism is used. That is torture.




Post 27

Sunday, April 4 - 8:24pmSanction this postReply
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Thanks. I am curious if there may not be another source, since I thought I remembered the quote from high school, (mid eighties) which would have meant from one of the books published up to Philosophy, Who Needs It? Perhaps AntiiIndustrial Revolution? I didn't read the text of the Playboy Interview until the internet. Or it may have been from an article in The Objectivist, which I got in reprint in the Summer of '86. Maybe someone with the CD ROM can hunt it down.



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Post 28

Sunday, April 4 - 10:20pmSanction this postReply
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Ted wrote,
Theologically he [Christ] was born and conceived without sin, making him an "unblemished" sacrificial victim.
I then said: "So, by your own admission, Christ was an unblemished (i.e., morally pure) sacrificial victim who was crucified in order to atone for the inherited (i.e., unearned) sins of man, which was the very point that Rand was making.

"So what is it about her position that you object to? She was not saying that Christ had no human frailties, but that, according to Christianity, he had no moral blemishes -- that he was without sin -- an ideal moral figure who was sacrificed for the sake of those were less than morally ideal."

Ted replied,
Jesus is held not to have committed any mortal sins, but this does not amount to moral perfection in the sense of any morality of objective virtues.
Who said that Jesus conformed to a morality of "objective" virtues? The point is that he was morally perfect, according to Christian doctrine, because he was God and God is considered morally perfect.
Sin and immorality are different things for the Christian. One sins by disobeying God, not by doing something that is not virtuous.
Not virtuous according to Christian doctrine? That's news to me. The opposite of virtue is vice, and vice according to Christian morality is a sin.
This is, of course, glossed over or ignored by modern Christians. (Think about the "what would Jesus do?" mantra. Should a Christian beat moneychangers with a whip? Of course not, his teachings are more important than his actions.) It is easy to see why Rand would have been misled on the idea.
There are certainly contradictions in the actions of Jesus -- not practicing what he preaches -- but they are not recognized as such by true believing Christians, for whom God is the fountainhead of morality. Whatever God does is right, because God determines what is right. True believing Christians would approve of Christ's driving out the money changers, on the grounds that the money changers were defiling the temple and deserved to be ejected from it.

In a subsequent post, Ted asked
Bill, I have a question. Can you provide the source of Rand's description of Jesus as an ideal embodiment of man, and were those her exact words?
I didn't quote her exact words, but only the essence of her view. Her exact words can be found in her 1964 Playboy interview with Alvin Toffler (which I now see that Jon has already posted):
Christ, in terms of the Christian philosophy, is the human ideal. He personifies that which men should strive to emulate. Yet, according to the Christian mythology, he died on the cross not for his own sins for the sins of the nonideal people. In other words, a man of perfect virtue was sacrificed for men who are vicious and who are expected or supposed to accept that sacrifice. If I were a Christian, nothing could make me more indignant than that: the notion of sacrificing the idea to the non-ideal, or virtue to vice. And it is in the name of that symbol that men are asked to sacrifice themselves for their inferiors.


(Edited by William Dwyer on 4/04, 10:22pm)




Post 29

Monday, April 5 - 9:07amSanction this postReply
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Other than simplying gainsaying me, Bill, I don't understand what your intention is. For instance, why do you object to my commenting that "Jesus is held not to have committed any mortal sins, but this does not amount to moral perfection in the sense of any morality of objective virtues" as if it were invalid of me to say so ("Who said that Jesus conformed to a morality of "objective" virtues?") unless I were contradicting someone? My point is that while her other points are absolutely correct, and that, yes, Christian theology is a confusing assortment of Old Testament, rabbinical, gnostic, soterical, and neo-Platonic philosophy, Rand is simply incorrect to say that "Christian philosophy" holds that Jesus was a morally perfect human. Not sinless deity whose word is law. Morally perfect human. Rather than candystripe me in your response, can you state your thesis and provide references to actual and preferably mainline orthodox Christian theology to support it?

"There are certainly contradictions in the actions of Jesus -- not practicing what he preaches -- but they are not recognized as such by true believing Christians, for whom God is the fountainhead of morality. Whatever God does is right, because God determines what is right. True believing Christians would approve of Christ's driving out the money changers, on the grounds that the money changers were defiling the temple and deserved to be ejected from it. "

Does this mean that you make a distinction between "true believing Christians" and actual Christians, like one billion Catholics, and I don't know how many others, who hear every year in the liturgy how Jesus' full and flawed humanity was demonstrated by his anger and loss of control with the money changers? Maybe you could quote or cite the relevant theological writings, the "Christian philosophy" (in Rand's words) of these (in your words) "true believing Christians"?

And how do you simply know that these "true believing Christians" would "approve" of Jesus contradicting his own words and using force and not turning the other cheek? Because they don't believe that Jesus' actions were ideal, i.e., perfect according to some objective* standard, but because he was God and hence could get away with whatever he wanted? (That is actually Mohammedan doctrine, I believe according to Al Ghazali, but it is not Christian doctrine so far as I am aware.)

So far your "argument" is based not upon any evidence of any actual teaching of any orthodox church, but simply upon assertions. And in your wrestling with straw men you seem not to realize that you have quite decisively disproven what I thought was your own point. The word at question is ideal, not supreme. Ideal in this context means in relation to some standard. In claiming that Jesus could get away with whatever he wanted to do because he was divine you are outright denying that Jesus was an ideal man.

Rand is not objecting to the murder of a divine being but to the sacrifice of a morally perfect man. The is no rational way to interpret Rand's saying that "Christ, in terms of the Christian philosophy" was "the human ideal," "which men should strive to emulate" and "a man of perfect virtue" as meaning that Christians believe that whatever Jesus, who was God, wanted to do was fine because he wanted to do it.

===

*By objective I simply mean objective, not Objectivist, and not "true." An objective standard is an explicitly identified and evidentially discernable one like the prohibition upon eating pork or sleeping with a family member.


(Edited by Ted Keer on 4/05, 12:04pm)




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Post 30

Monday, April 5 - 5:42pmSanction this postReply
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Ted writes,
Ah, so you make a distinction between "true believing Christians" and actual Christians, like one billion Catholics, and I don't know how many others, who hear every year in the liturgy how Jesus' full and flawed humanity was demonstrated by his unjustified anger and loss of control with the money changers? Maybe you could quote or cite the relevant theological writings, the "Christian philosophy" (in Rand's words) of these "true believing Christians"?
What I meant by "true believing Christians" was simply those who believed in Christ's divinity. So are you saying that according to the Catholic Church, Christ was morally flawed -- that he was a hypocrite and didn't practice what he preached? Could you show me where the Church says this? Although I was raised a Catholic and went to Catholic schools, I never heard from any of my teachers, priests, nuns or Christian Brothers that Jesus was morally flawed. He was always presented as an ideal man. Now maybe he shouldn't have been, but at least in my experience, he was.
And you simply know that these "true believing Christians" would "approve" of Jesus using force and not turning the other cheek, because what? Because they don't believe that Jesus' actions were ideal, i.e., perfect according to some objective* standard, but because he was God and could get away with whatever he wanted?
Well, I don't think they'd put it that way, but they do operate on the premise that since Christ is God, he can do nothing morally wrong. However, I did search on Google to see if I could find an acknowledgement by Christians that Christ didn't practice what he preached and that he was therefore a hypocrite. What I found instead was a rebuttal to your argument that Christ's driving the money changers from the temple was a violent unChristian-like assault. In Wikipedia on the page "Jesus and the money changers" is a link to "A Christian explanation of allegedly violent events in Jesus' life, including the clearing of the Temple." The incident with the money changers was defended as follows:
There are a number of elements in the story [of Christ's response to the money changers] that suggest that it is not as 'violent' as is sometimes visualized:

1. The fact that the Roman guards did not intervene--as they did with the riot over Paul in Acts 21--strongly suggests a "lower key" visualization.

2. The seats of the dove sellers and the counters of the moneychangers were simply parts of their merchant 'stalls'. The money-tables would not have had much loose coinage on them--the coins would have been in bags behind the counter, and so the common image of many coins scattering everywhere is likely false. And it would not have taken but one example of 'pouring out' of a money bag to get everyone else's 'cooperation' in leaving!

3. Jesus simply ordered the dove sellers out (and probably the merchants too, although they would have followed their larger animals out of the temple anyway), and the makeshift whip/lash was for the animals.

4. There was no indication that any human being was assaulted, hit, harmed, or hurt; and the "scourge" was hastily constructed of rushes/weeds pulled out of the cracks in the Courtyard floor/walls (not a whip of the sort He was scourged with).

5. Jesus forbade subsequent entry simply by his presence, to any non-worshipper who tried to enter.

6. The many OT/Tanach prophetic references are ample indication that Jesus was acting in prophetic confrontation/symbolic mode.

7. One should never confuse zeal, judgment, drama, prophetic symbolic action--or even forceful expulsion of destructive agents--with acts of unlawful physical aggression or 'violence' or 'lashing out at enemies'.

Perhaps William's assessment is the most realistic:

"First, then, back to the observation that it is reported as a "violent" act. Part of the reported action, blocking the way of traffic, perhaps involving the obtaining of animals for sacrifice, is more in the mode of nonviolent protest. Overturning the tables of the money changers may be viewed as "violent," but it should be noted that the entire protest is of very short duration. It is not narrated as though there is any intent to harm anyone, to maintain a long occupation, or to assert Jesus' power over the Temple and its dealings. It is clearly in the tradition of the prophets' dramatic representations of Israel's situation and God's word of judgment. In a situation of oppression and a brewing mimetic crisis, it is impossible to avoid the taint of violence if one is to act decisively. The word decision itself, a "cutting off" or "cutting from," already suggests that the harmonious reconciliation of all persons and elements in a situation will not take place. This is the human condition in the world of differences, especially when these differences no longer manage the mimetic desire and rivalry that are ever present and effective." [BVS:228f]
You can see how Christ's actions are being rationalized by those who regard him as an exemplar of Christian virtue. So, what is your evidence that, according to orthodox Christianity, Christ's actions betray a moral hypocrisy? Do you honestly believe that the pope would be willing to say that Jesus Christ was a hypocrite, because he didn't practice what he preached?

I would certainly say that God committed murder when he commanded Moses to stone a man to death for working on the Sabbath, and that in so doing God violated one of his very own commandments ("Thou Shalt Not Kill"), but I've never heard of Christians denouncing God as a murderer or a hypocrite for doing so. Have you?
Bill, your "argument" is based not upon any evidence of any actual teaching of any orthodox church, but simply upon assertions. (In case you haven't noticed I want evidence, not just more "Objectipinion.").
Well, I was relying on my own interactions with Christians. I don't think that the allegedly orthodox view of Christ's morally flawed character which you refer to is recognized by most Christians, even if it is endorsed by Christian scholars. And I would again ask that you present evidence of any orthodox claim that Jesus violated his own teachings and was therefore a hypocrite. I'd be surprised if you could find it, but if you can, I'll stand corrected. In any case, I don't think that most Christians would agree with that interpretation, as I've never met any devout Christian who did.
And in your wrestling with straw men you seem not to realize that you have quite decisively disproven your own point. In claiming that Jesus could get away with whatever he wanted to do because he was divine you are outright denying that Jesus was an ideal man.
I wouldn't say "get away with," because that implies that, according to Christianity, he is violating some legitimate standard of morality, when it is he, God, who sets the standard. Besides I'm not entirely sure, given the explanation on Wikipedia, that he did in fact resort to overt violence against the money changers. The Christian apologist who wrote that piece seems to think he did not. I guess it depends on your interpretation of scripture and I'm not a Biblical scholar. But, as I say, I have never met a true Christian (one who believes in Christ's divinity and moral authority) who accused him of being a hypocrite.

- Bill



Post 31

Monday, April 5 - 7:01pmSanction this postReply
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Bill, do you have the link to the wikipedia article which you quote? Please do provide it.

I don't accept what in wikspeak is called the "original research" and "synthesis" of individuals on wikipedia as any sort of expression of "Christian philosophy." (The editor with the list of speculations above is putting forth statements by various authors in order to justify a supposition of his own. That is not acceptible wikipedian practice.) Individual people believe, and as you correctly say, rationalize all sort of things that are not orthodox belief. ( Just as Rand would insist that people not profess in her name what real Objectivism is, but rather call themselves students of Objectivism, the best I can say for such people is that they may fancy themselves students of Christianity.)

Rand wasn't complaining how awful it was that individual Christians hold a superstition that Christ was a morally perfect man and hence because of that moral perfection he had to die for our sins. Nor did Rand complain that Christ, because he was God and hence he could do no wrong since his will defined what was moral, shouldn't have been sacrificed. (I think you have abandonned that argument?) Her complaint was that Jesus was sacrificed as an ideal man according to Christian philosophy. Again, that is not the philosophical position of those churches such as the Catholic, the (scholastic) Lutheran, the Epsicopalian, or the Eastern Orthodox churches which accept the councils that led to the adoption and the defense of the Nicene creed.

Nowhere is it held that his moral perfection as a man, or the death of a morally perfect man merited salvation. Joe Blow's death on the cross, no matter how morally perfect a human Joe Blow might have been, would not have redeemed mankind. Rather "The only way in which the satisfaction could be made, and men could be set free from sin, was by the coming of a Redeemer who is both God and man. His death makes full satisfaction to the Divine Justice, for it is something greater than all the sins of all mankind."

What would be needed here is a reference in that article to some authoritative work of Christian philosophy which holds that it was due to his perfect human nature as such that Christ was a suitable sacrifice to redeem man's sins.

I'll let you have the last word if you want, since I think I have provided enough evidence to show that Rand's formulation is a confusion of orthodox Christian doctrine, and I cannot myself expound any positive Christian doctrine. I do ask again that you post the link to the wikipedia article you quoted above.



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Post 32

Monday, April 5 - 9:12pmSanction this postReply
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Then, if Rand had said that the mythology glorified the sacrifice of a really good, solidly better-than-average guy (a fine and divine, if not morally ideal, guy) for the sake of the not-so-good—then you would have no problem?

Her disgust would stand. Your theological objection would evaporate. Would all be well here?




Post 33

Monday, April 5 - 9:29pmSanction this postReply
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Yes, her disgust would stand, as does mine. I thought I had made it abundantly and repeatedly clear that my disagreement was with her inaccurate statement of fact as regards actual Christian belief, not with her evaluation of the justice of the matter. Indeed, I am quite sure you can find at least three posts where I have already expressed this explicitly. I will hazard a guess without looking to confirm it that they were written in English, although God knows I don't always think in that language.





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Post 34

Monday, April 5 - 9:51pmSanction this postReply
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You disagreed with theological interpretations—but three posts in which you indicated agreement with her on the justice of the matter? I cannot find one. Please point one out.



Post 35

Monday, April 5 - 10:15pmSanction this postReply
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So my guess of three was accurate, Jon? Thanks.

I am sorry, did I say "agree"? I thought I wrote exactly what I meant. I said that "my disagreement was with her inaccurate statement of fact as regards actual Christian belief. . . ." The word "this" in the following sentence referred to the matter I italicized. (Did I italicize the "not" without realizing it?) There are actually a potentially infinite number of things I that didn't disagree with her about in each post, weren't there?

You aren't trying to play gotcha, are you?

(Edited by Ted Keer on 4/05, 10:21pm)




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Post 36

Monday, April 5 - 10:28pmSanction this postReply
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“I thought I had made it abundantly and repeatedly clear that my disagreement was with her inaccurate statement of fact as regards actual Christian belief, not with her evaluation of the justice of the matter. Indeed, I am quite sure you can find at least three posts where I have already expressed this explicitly.” [Ted]

This language implies that the writer has explicitly separated his disagreement with a statement of “actual christian belief” from “the justice of the matter.” The writer has done no such thing. Not in one post, nor two, nor three.

Nitpicking sucks, doesn’t it?

If three is accurate, as you quip, then cite one.




Post 37

Monday, April 5 - 10:54pmSanction this postReply
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There is a difference between agreeing on one hand and not disagreeing on the other. You said "agree" and I did not. My statement was exact, your illogical surmises are your own.

And you omitted the italics from my quote.

What's next, cursing me out for not having denied you're stupid?

(Edited by Ted Keer on 4/05, 11:08pm)




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Post 38

Monday, April 5 - 11:27pmSanction this postReply
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Ted,

I still haven't seen any evidence from you that orthodox Christian doctrine holds that Jesus Christ was a hypocrite who did not practice what he preached. Where is the evidence for that? I asked you before if you thought that the pope would say that Christ was a hypocrite. Well, would he?

As for the Wikipedia link that you requested, it is:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jesus_and_the_money_changers

Scroll down to the "External Links," and click on: "A Christian explanation of allegedly violent events in Jesus' life, including the clearing of the Temple."

Have a nice day.

- Bill
(Edited by William Dwyer on 4/05, 11:42pm)




Post 39

Tuesday, April 6 - 9:52amSanction this postReply
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"Have a nice day"? You say that like it's a threat.

Hypocrite is your word Bill. I never used it. You used it six times in order to change the subject when it was pointed out to you that an argument that Jesus is necessarily morally perfect since his will as God defines what is moral is incompatible with Rand's description of Jesus as ideal, a term which presupposes some objective standard. I assume you admit, although you seem reluctant to say it out loud, that that was not at all Rand's point.

In case anyone has missed my point, Jon did stumble on it, albeit as if he were disccovering something I hadn't already said repeatedly in plain English from my first post. I repeat, while her other points are valid, Rand's characterization of Jesus as an ideal embodiment of man is her own (understandably) confused notion, not orthodox Christian theology.

Finally, I inadvertently omitted the source for this quote above, from Atonement at the Catholic Encyclopedia. You will notice the article says nothing about ideal humans.

"The only way in which the satisfaction could be made, and men could be set free from sin, was by the coming of a Redeemer who is both God and man. His death makes full satisfaction to the Divine Justice, for it is something greater than all the sins of all mankind.""




(Edited by Ted Keer on 4/06, 9:53am)




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