Sunday, December 23, 2018

Christmas and the Crucified God


This is my annual Christmas article. I have a guest article for friday and so I'll be off until after New Years. So I wish everyone a Mary Christmas!
Please Comment!!! I will be back after new years

Christmas, God talk, incarnation, Jurgen Moltmann, Matthew Lamb, Solidarity with Victims, The Crucified God,

The Christian part of Christmas, that's the nativity scene with no trees or elves. That's the part you go to chruch to talk about. Show some mangers and some wise men and play the drummer boy song (eeeeee can't stand that son, p-rum-pum-pum-pum, rum-pum-pum-pum...enough already!) and you've done your bit for Christmas. I actually love Christmas, I like the manger and the baby and all that. Yet that is not what it's about. The entrance of Christ into the world in a lowly birth, worshiped by wise-men and heralded by angles and a star, those are nice folk tale elements. That masks what it's all about in the guise of cute fluffy heart warming imagery. Christmas is about the birth of Christ, God come in the flesh, and that signals to us the death of Christ; its meaning, it's end, it's un-final end and new beginning. The birth heralds more of the positive side of Jesus time in the flesh, his career, his mission, the promise and the possibilities. After all the angels said "peace on earth, good will toward men." How does that connect to a kid born in a manger?

Even with the positive possibilities of peace the birth hearlds the death and since we are compelled to think of both they both remind us of the meaning of Christ's mission and the reason for his coming. I used to read a book every Christmas, the same book. It was one of my all time favorite books; The Crucified God, by Jurgen Moltmann. The subtitle is very important: The Cross of Christ as the foundation and Criticism of Christian Theology. That book seemed to most adequately sum up what the incarnation is about.

Motlmann was from the 60's to the 90's and maybe even up to the present was the greatest living Protestant theologian. He was best known for this book and his Theology of Hope. both of which served to dramatize and legitimize the theology of liberation and the struggles of Latin America. Moltmann's book is actually an argument for placing Praxis on the front burner of theology and leaving the dray musty doctrinal stuff on the back burner. Praxis is the idea of reflection upon material need, how to apply the lessons of theology in a practical way to people's needs.
To get to the core of the book and it's relation to Christmas, the argument goes like this: So what if Jesus was crucified? what's the big deal? There are much worse ways to suffer. Crucifixion is bad but it is far from the worst thing that can happen to you. So why was it a sacrifice, I mean after all he is God, what would it matter to him if he dies? And he got to come back."

First, most Christians try to answer this out of a need for piety. They do not give a theological answer, they give a pious one. The pious answer can't be undestood by modern people, they lack pious feelings, so it just makes it worse. The pious answer of course is to try and mount up the pain and make it seem so very much worse. O. Jesus suffered in hell and he suffers every minute and he's still suffering and he felt all the agony in the world. Of course it doesn't' really say that anywhere in the Bible. While I think this is true, and while my pious side feels the proper sense of devotion and gratitude to our savior for his work, we can't use this to answer the question because modern impiety can't understand the answer. They just hear us reiterating their hidden primes.
The other Christian answers are Propitiatory atonement, Substitutionary, or Moral government. These are the tree major ways of looking at the atonement. Propitiation means to turn away anger. This answer is also incomprehensible to moderns. God is so very angry with us that he can't stand the sight of us, he has to stick Jesus between himself and us so he will see Jesus and turn away his anger. This just makes God seem like a red faced historical parent who couldn't comprehend the consequences of his creation when he decided to make it. Substitutionary atonement says that Jesus took our place, he received the penalty our sins deserved. This comes in two verities. One is financial transaction, Jesus paid the debt. the other is closer to moral government, Jesus was executed because he stepped in and took the place of the guilty party. Both of these are also problematic, because they really allow the guilty to get off Scott free and persecute an innocent person. Again modern people can't understand this kind of thinking; you could not go down to the jail and talk them into letting you take another prisoners place. We can harp on how this is a grace so fine we can't undersigned it in the natural mind, and relapse into piety again singing the praises to God for doing this wonderful act, but it wont answer the atheists questions.
I realize that the view I hold to is a little known minority view. I know I'm bucking the mainstream. But I think it makes a lot more sense and  actually explains why there was an atonement. Before getting into it, however, I want to comment upon the atheist hidden premise. The explicit premise of the atheist argument is that atonement works by Jesus suffering a whole lot. If Jesus suffers enough then restitution is made. But wait, restitution for what? For our sins? Then why should Jesus suffer more than we do or more than our victims do? Why do atheists seem to think,  that Jesus must suffer more than anyone ever has for the atonement to work? It's because the hidden premise is that God is guilty and the atonement is the time God pays for his own mistakes. Jesus has to suffer more than anyone to make up for what God has done, in conceiving of us by creating us. The sickness of the modern mind can scarcely comprehend Christian theology now. I wonder if it isn't too late and we are just past the day when people in the West can really be saved?

I mean consider the idea that usually acompanies this argument: well he is God after all, a little torutre death cant' hurt him. In the old days, when we had a culture that ran on Christian memories, people said how great that God would do this for us when he didn't have to! Now the argument is "Of course he had to, it's the least he can do, after all I didn't asked to be born, so I'm entitled to whatever goodies I can get in compensation." That's why I think the hidden premise is to blame God; its as though they are saying God has to suffer more than anyone to make up for the suffering he caused as creator. This sort of attitude marks the disease of the modern mind.

In any case, my view is the Participatory atonement. It was embraced by several church fathers and modern theologians supporting it are mentioned below:

I.The Atonement: God's Solidarity With Humanity.

........A. The inadquacy of Financial Transactions

Many ministers, and therefore, many Christians speak of and think of Jesus' death on the cross as analogous to a financial transaction. Usually this idea goes something like this: we are in hock to the devil because we sinned. God pays the debt we owe by sending Jesus to die for us, and that pays off the devil. The problem with this view is the Bible never says we owe the devil anything. We owe God. The financial transaction model is inadequate. Matters of the soul are much more important than any monetary arrangement and business transactions and banking do not do justice to the import of the issue. Moreover, there is a more sophisticated model; that of the sacrament for sin. In this model Jesus is like a sacrificial lamb who is murdered in our place. This model is also inadequate because it is based on a primitive notion of sacrifice. The one making the sacrifice pays over something valuable to him to appease an angry God. In this case God is paying himself. This view is also called the "propitiation view" becuase it is based upon propitiation, which means to turn away wrath. The more meaningful notion is that of Solidarity. The Solidarity or "participatory" view says that Jesus entered human history to participate in our lot as finiate humans, and he dide as a means of identifying with us. We are under the law of sin and death, we are under curse of the law (we sin, we die, we are not capable in our own human strength of being good enough to merit salvation). IN taking on the penalty of sin (while remaining sinless) Jesus died in our stead; not in the manner of a premature animal sacrafice (that is just a metaphor) but as one of us, so that through identification with us, we might identify with him and therefore, partake of his newness of life.

.......B. Christ the Perfect Revelation of God to Humanity

In the book of Hebrews it says "in former times God spoke in many and various ways through the prophets, but in these latter times he has spoken more perfectly through his son." Jesus is the perfect revelation of God to humanity. The prophets were speaking for God, but their words were limited in how much they could tell us about God. Jesus was God in the flesh and as such, we can see clearly by his character, his actions, and his teachings what God wants of us and how much God cares about us. God is for humanity, God is on our side! The greatest sign of God's support of our cause as needy humans is Jesus death on the cross, a death in solidarity with us as victims of our own sinful hearts and societies. Thus we can see the lengths God is will to go to to point us toward himself. There are many verses in the Bible that seem to contradict this view. These are the verses which seem to say that Atonement is propitiatory.

.......C. Death in Solidarity with Victims.............. 
1) Support from Modern Theologians

.......Three Major Modern Theologians support the solidarity notion of atonement: Jurgen Moltmann (The Crucified God), Matthew L. Lamb (Solidarity With Victims), and D.E.H. Whiteley (The Theology of St. Paul).In the 1980s Moltmann (German Calvinist) was called the greatest living protestant theologian, and made his name in laying the groundwork for what became liberation theology. Lamb (Catholic Priest) was big name in political theology, and Whiteley (scholar at Oxford) was a major Pauline scholar in the 1960s.In his work The Crucified God Moltmann interprits the cry of Jesus on the cross, "my God my God why have you forsaken me" as a statement of solidarity, placing him in identification with all who feel abandoned by God.Whiteley: "If St. Paul can be said to hold a theory of the modus operandi [of the atonement] it is best described as one of salvation through participation [the 'solidarity' view]: Christ shared all of our experience, sin alone excepted, including death in order that we, by virtue of our solidarity with him, might share his life...Paul does not hold a theory of substitution..." (The Theology of St. Paul, 130)An example of one of the great classical theologians of the early chruch who held to a similar view is St. Irenaeus (according to Whiteley, 133).

..............2) Scrtiptural

...all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were Baptized into his death.? We were therefore burried with him in baptism into death in order that just as Christ was raised from the death through the glory of the father, we too may live a new life. If we have been united with him in his death we will certanly be united with him in his resurrection.For we know that the old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be rendered powerless, that we should no longer be slaves to sin.--because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.Now if we have died with Christ we believe that we will also live with him, for we know that since Christ was raised from the dead he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him; the death he died to sin he died once for all; but the life he lives he lives to God. In the same way count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Chrsit Jesus.(Romans 6:1-5)

.......In Short, if we have united ourselves to Christ, entered his death and been raised to life, we participate in his death and resurrection through our act of solidarity, united with Christ in his death, than it stands tto reason that his death is an act of solidarity with us, that he expresses his solidarity with humanity in his death.

.......This is why Jesus cries out on the cross "why have you forsaken me?" According to Moltmann this is an expression of Solidarity with all who feel abandoned by God.Jesus death in solidarity creates the grounds for forgiveness, since it is through his death that we express our solidarity, and through that, share in his life in union with Christ. Many verses seem to suggest a propitiatory view. But these are actually speaking of the affects of the solidarity. "Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through him! For if when we were considered God's enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! What appears to be saying that the shedding of blood is what creates forgiveness is actually saying that the death in solidarity creates the grounds for reconciliation. IT says we were enemies then we were reconciled to him through the death, his expression of solidarity changes the ground, when we express our solidarity and enter into the death we are giving up to God, we move from enemy to friend, and in that sense the shedding of blood, the death in solidarity, creates the conditions through which we can be and are forgiven. He goes on to talk about sharing in his life, which is participation, solidarity, unity.

.......D. Meaning of Solidarity and Salvation.

.......Jurgen Moltmann's notion of Solidarity (see The Crucified God) is based upon the notion of Political solidarity. Christ died in Solidarity with victims. He took upon himself a political death by purposely angering the powers of the day. Thus in his death he identifies with victims of oppression. But we are all victims of oppression. Sin has a social dimension, the injustice we experience as the hands of society and social and governmental institutions is primarily and at a very basic level the result of the social aspects of sin. Power, and political machinations begin in the sinful heart, the ego, the desire for power, and they manifest themselves through institutions built by the will to power over the other. But in a more fundamental sense we are all victims of our own sinful natures. We scheme against others on some level to build ourselves up and secure our conditions in life. IN this sense we cannot help but do injustice to others. In return injustice is done to us.Jesus died in solidarity with us, he underwent the ultimate consequences of living in a sinful world, in order to demonstrate the depths of God's love and God's desire to save us. Take an analogy from political organizing. IN Central America governments often send "death squads" to murder labor unionists and political dissenter. IN Guatemala there were some American organizations which organized for college students to go to Guatemala and escort the leaders of dissenting groups so that they would not be murdered.

.......The logic was that the death squads wouldn't hurt an American Student because it would bring bad press and shut off U.S. government funds to their military. As disturbing as these political implications are, let's stay focused on the Gospel. Jesus is like those students, and like some of them, he was actually killed. But unlike them he went out of his way to be killed, to be victimized by the the rage of the sinful and power seeking so that he could illustrate to us the desire of God; that God is on our side, God is on the side of the poor, the victimized, the marginalized, and the lost. Jesus said "a physician is not sent to the well but to the sick."The key to salvation is to accept God's statement of solidarity, to express our solidarity with God by placing ourselves into the death of Christ (by identification with it, by trust in it's efficacy for our salvation).

.......E. Atonement is a Primitive Concept?

.......This charge is made quite often by internet-skeptics, especially Jewish anti-missionaries who confuse the concept with the notion of Human sacrifice. But the charge rests on the idea that sacrifice itself is a prematurity notion. If one commits a crime, someone else should not pay for it. This attack can be put forward in many forms but the basic notion revolves around the idea that one person dying for the sins of another, taking the penalty or sacrificing to remove the guilt of another is a premature concept. None of this applies with the Participatory view of the atonement (solidarity) since the workings of Christ's death, the manner in which it secures salvation, is neither through turning away of wrath nor taking upon himself others sins, but the creation of the grounds through which one declares one's own solidarity with God and the grounds through which God accepts that solidarity and extends his own; the identification of God himself with the needs and cry of his own creation.

The Blogging Parson
Moltmann's theodicy is the great strength of this work, in that it directly engages the protest atheism of the mid twentieth century without negating the powerful emotional impact of its claims. We are returned to the cross as the heart of the Christian message repeatedly - it is no accident that Luther features so strongly and so positively in these pages. Further, the rigour of his penetrating search for the implications of the cross for God himself has led him rightly to the trinity, and stands as a rebuke to the western tradition for neglecting this understanding of God for so long. The atonement is necessarily a trinitarian event/process. The sense of God identifying with human beings in Christ is also very strong. Moltmann develops a theology of the atonement with a cosmic scope, and does not fall into the trap of individualising the work of the cross.

Moltmann's work turns out to develop a "Trinitarian history of God." This works through a dialectic through which God rejects the Son, then accepts the son, then raises the son to a hope and a future in which we can participate. This also raises a dialectical relation between God and man because the son becomes part of humanity then humanity becomes part of the son through adoption to sonship and participation in the future. Christ particpates in our life and We in his. That's quite a philosophical turn on for a German.

Blogging Parson again:
We might complain that Moltmann's doctrine of God suffers from an overdose of Hegelianism, by presenting the history of the world as God's history, the process by which he realizes himself. By rejecting impassiblity and divine aseity, does he allow a compromise of God's freedom? This having been said, is God still as impersonal as he ever was under the scholastics? Further, the God presented here seems almost dependent on, or at least intrinsically tied to, the world. His is a vulnerable God. Moltmann's trinitarian reflection leaves him open to the charge of tritheism - however, he more than responds to such a charge in The Trinity and the Kingdom of God; and he is recapturing a biblical emphasis, after all.
While the cosmic vision of Moltmann's theologia crucis is admirable, it says almost nothing about individual salvation - in fact, it almost non-soteriological. He describes God's judgement in the terms of the "giving up" of human beings to their godlessness, as in Rom 1 (p.242). The atonement is achieved not by any substitutionary work of Christ but by his identifying with human beings in their lostness, by solidarity with them. In the end, his panentheism leads him to a universalist model; and the preaching of the cross becomes a following of God's example in identifying with the lost and godforsaken.
This last criticism I think is valid on the surface. Mostlamann doesn't spend a lot of time focusing on individual piety I think the implications for the individual are obvious and it's up to the individual to step into a relationship with God. For me I find Chrsitmas can be a great way to do what but only if you overlook the commercial crap and read a book like the Crucified God..

Thursday, December 20, 2018

The Spirit of Christmas Past

(Christocentric Christmas post on Monday)

 photo nashsanta_zpsilyvmug0.jpg  This is the last Friday before Christmas so I thought if I'm going to do a Christmas theme I have to do it now. One thing that ha always fascinated me is the history of Santa Claus. What I find most interesting is the shadowy forerunners of Santa, those folkloric figures from the mists of Europe's past that form the basis of the Santa Claus legend. That is what I will most concern myself with here. But of course I would be remiss in not discussing the historical making of the modern Santa Claus. Our modern North pole dwelling Coca Cola guzzling Santa has only been around since the late 19th century, and was formed out of developments that began to take shape right after the American revolution.(St. Nicholas Center)

Before that time Christmas wasn't much celebrated in America. We had it but it was not regarded. Of course the Colonists had the tradition of Father Christmas from England. Around the time of the American revolution Father Christmas had fallen into disfavor because he was English. The American fascination with Santa Claus comes from The Dutch who had settled New York. The Dutch had a forerunner Claus, Sinterklaas. That name means Saint Nicholas but I'll get to him in a bit. Our term "Santa Claus" derives from this Dutch name. It Washington Irving (1783-1859:"The Legend of Sleepy Hollow"-Headless horseman and all) who first made Santa Claus popular in America.
Diedrich Knickerbocker, Irving wrote the satirical A History of New York from the Beginning of the World to the End of the Dutch Dynasty. Irving dedicates his satirical "history" to the New-York Historical Society, and makes dozens of references to an impish, pipe-smoking Saint Nicholas who brings gifts down chimneys, thus beginning a legend that will travel round the world. That it was published on St. Nicholas's feast day, December 6, 1809, was no accident.("Father of Christmas")
Irving's Modus Oporandi was to draw upon the folk traditions of New York Dutch that had been forgotten by most New Yorkers and that dipped way back into the fount of Northland folklore from the old country. His Santa road a horse there were no reindeer he did not live at the north Pole. I do not know if the Horse was Irving's idea but I think going down the chimney was already a Dutch idea. Yet Father Christmas didn't do that. Dutch children were given candy and nuts in their shoes not stockings, they were left on window ledges and the foot of the bed not hung from the fireplace. Two other figures were important in the making of modern Santa, John Nast the great political Cartoonist, that's a Nast Claus at the top.
1821 brought some new elements with publication of the first lithographed book in America, the Children's Friend. This "Santa Claus" arrived from the North in a sleigh with a flying reindeer. The anonymous poem and illustrations proved pivotal in shifting imagery away from a saintly bishop. Santa Claus fit a didactic mode, rewarding good behavior and punishing bad, leaving a "long, black birchen rod. (St. Nicholas Center, op.cit.)
Following that in 1823 Clement Moore's poem "A Visit from St. Nicholas" (aka "The Night Before Christmas"). That poem added the names of the reindeer. One interesting fact was the gesture he makes to go back up the chimney, putting his finger beside his nose. This gesture is recorded by Irving in his story and that same gesture was the Dutch way of winking when telling a tall tale or some story you know is just a yarn. 

Saint Nicholas

The story of Santa Claus really begins with St. Nicholas who was a real historical man, although not much is known about him. We know he lived in
the Bishop of Myra (in present day Turkey) in the early fourth century, who was known for helping the poor and giving presents to children. In the Middle Ages, Christians celebrated his feast day, Dec. 6, by leaving gifts for children in their shoes.(finding Dulcinea: Christmas).
He was born around 280. No one knows when he died. He was supposedly wealthy and spent his family fortune helping the poor. He became so popular as a champion of children that for centuries he was as famous and as legendary as our Santa and he was the yearly gift giver spreading through Europe. His feast day was on December 6th that used to be the toy giving day. St. Nicholas was the toy giver.(History Channel "Santa Claus")

 photo 8f47da171daf5f712cc63cb02432880b_zpshipxj2zj.jpg

Shadows in the mists of time

Many of these treatments of Santa history begin with St. Nicholas but there were gift givers before him. The figures became the basis for the legend of gift giving Nicholas. They only hint at trace of forgotten times and cultures.

In Scandinavia the Norse God Odin acted as annual gift giver for children. He would fly around on his eight legged steed giving gifts. Children left their boots by the Chimney for Odin; who was associated with the Solstus thus linking him to December 25. The Germanic people had another gift given Frau Holda, winter.(Santa Claus' Pagan Origins). These two date to 13th century so they don't pre date St. Nicholas. In Italy we have Le Befanna who was said to have misled the wise men as they sought the Christ child. She went to find them to put it right but could not, thus wonders the giving gifts to children so as not to miss the Christ child, she too is 13th century. (Ibid).

In pre Christian times Germanic people and English celebrated mid winter festival of Yuletide.* Many aspects of this tradition were absorbed into Christmas. This is where all the holy and Ivy stuff comes from. Father Christmas probably traces to that period, even though the first written sources are 15th century (Orchard, Andy (1997). Dictionary of Norse Mythology and Legend, page 187. Cassell). Likewise Odin is pre Christian ads sa god and probably as a gift giver as well, but our written sources begin in 13th century."The appearance of Santa Claus or Father Christmas, whose day is 25th of December, owes much to Odin, the old blue-hooded, cloaked, white-bearded Gift bringer of the north, who rode the midwinter sky on his eight-footed steed Sleipnir, visiting his people with gifts. … Odin, transformed into Father Christmas, then Santa Claus, prospered with St Nicholas and the Christchild became a leading player on the Christmas stage."(Baker, Margaret (2007 1962). Discovering Christmas Customs and Folklore: A Guide to Seasonal Rites Throughout the World, page 62. Osprey Publishing).

 photo 390dcf8e7dbbd70afa254588ef184e66_zpsdwyctgkk.jpg
Polish Starman

Poland has a Pre Nicholas Santa figure called "Satarman." "In some regions of Poland, at the end of supper, Father Christmas, known as The Starman (very often the parish priest in disguise), accompanied by singing Starboys, pays a visit. He brings rewards to good children from Starland, and scolds the naughty ones, who eventually get their reward, too." (Polish Christmas). Starman is not jovial figure, no Ho ho ho, He first threatens to beat the children and then relents. Then he passes out presents.

In Russia Father Frost and his grand daughrt are Clauslike gift givers but they don't pre date Nicholas. There is one who does. Nicholas as gift giver in Russia is patterned after an older figure.
Ded Moroz or Father Frost, the Slavic version of Santa Claus, long ago became the symbol of Russian winter, New Year’s and presents. He is usually accompanied by his granddaughter Snegurochka riding with an evergreen tree in a traditional Russian troika, a sleigh drawn by three horses abreast.Snegurochka is a unique attribute of the image of Ded Moroz – none of his foreign colleagues have such a cute companion.The original Russian gift-giver was Saint Nicholas, the country's Patron Saint, whose Feast Day is celebrated on December 6th. The image of Saint Nicholas originates from the image of another hero – the ancient Morozko. In Russian folklore Morozko is a powerful hero and smith who chains water with his “iron” frosts. Morozko was not hostile to people - he helped them and presented them with awesome presents.In fairy tales Morozko is at times kind and at times evil. To be precise, he is kind towards the hard working and the good-hearted, but extremely severe with the mean and the lazy. And it is not about justice only. It is rather about two personalities living in one magical person.(Russiapesia).
The anti Santa

Even our modern Santa has his negative side. In my parents generation they would say that he would bring coal to bad children. Then it evolved to just a passive 'no gifts' for bad children. We have seen that older figures have more negativity. Starman is austere and threatens punishment although he's really a pushover. Even t5he Russian figure older than Nicholas is schizophrenic. There I an even older figure who hints at a forgotten past now very foreign. This is an actual evil figu8re2who balances Santa called "Krumpus." He's in the Bavarian Alps. He has a demonic face and horns, sound familiar? (Republican Candidate)?
In Austro-Bavarian Alpine folklore, Krampus is a horned, anthropomorphic figure who, during the Christmas season, punishes children who have misbehaved, in contrast with Saint Nicholas, who rewards the well-behaved with gifts. Regions in Austria feature similar figures and, more widely, Krampus is one of a number of Companions of Saint Nicholas in regions of Europe. The origin of the figure is unclear; some folklorists and anthropologists have postulated a pre-Christian origin for the figure.( wiki Author sites:Crimmins, Peter (15 December 2011). "Horror For The Holidays: Meet The Anti-Santa". NPR. Retrieved 25 November 2015).
There are other such figures in surrounding areas. This is really ancient and moving back into the mists in a time we know little about. (Haid, Oliver (2006). "Christmas markets in the Tyrolean Alps: Representing regional traditions in a newly created world of Christmas". In David Picard, Mike Robinson. Festivals, tourism and social change: remaking worlds. Buffalo, New York: Channel View Publications. pp. 216–19. ISBN 978-1-84541-048-3).

What is yule?Yule is the ancient name in the Germanic lunar calendar for a winter festival corresponding to December and January. Later, yule referred to the 12-day holiday associated with the Feast of the Nativity after the widespread adoption of Christianity through Northern Europe.
The word has Gothic origins, but English speakers are most familiar with yulethrough associations dating to its original use. For example, the yule log, as in the lyric “See the blazing yule before us,” was originally a real tree limb or trunk, but now makes an appearance at Christmastime as a cake shaped like a log.
Yule also carries associations with a farm animal. The Yule Goat carried Father Christmas on his back and is a symbol of Christmas throughout Scandinavian countries. The Yule Goat may have associations tracing back to Norse mythology. The now-famous comic book god Thor rode in a chariot pulled by two goats that could also be eaten and magically regenerate into living creatures again.
What is yuletide?While Yule can refer to both Christmas itself and the season, yuletide references the season as a whole—essentially that period from early December to early January.
Most Americans associate yuletide with singing carols, a tradition in Northern Europe, also known as wassailing.
Want to know the meaning of some other Christmas carol-y words? Read along as we crack these Christmas carol codes.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

How Modern Thinking about God Went wrong


The Domestication Of Transcendence: How Modern Thinking About God Went Wrong

Book Review:
The Domestication of Transcendence: How Modern Thinking about God Went Wrong. by 
by William C. Placher, John Knox Press, 1996.
This is a ground breaking book. I would not be surprised to learn that it was ignored for the most part. I read part of it in the 90s and forgot all about until recently when my old professor form Perkins, William S. Babcock, recommended it for something things I am studying at present. This book brought back for me some of my former quests as a beginning and pre seminarian and observations I made by then, late 80s and wanted to make good on and was side tracked from. This book is ground breaking and deserves to be seen as the seminal literary event in theology for that 90s. I'm sure it wasn't seen that way by the theological community.

Placher was writing mid 90s and begins his work discussing how theology in that decade was laced with either talk of postmodernism and attempts to explain what "modern" is, or attacks upon "classical theism" which focus on "static" notions of a remote God distantly orchastrating hierarchies and all the other bad things Derridians feared. These were the classic signs of the times in '96. These concerns prompted Placher to seek the divide that separates seventeenth century form per seventeenth century Christianity. That there is a divide is separated by the distinction between the Luther talks about God and the way those arguing against Deism in the time of Tillotson and Stillingfleet (18th century) argued about God. They God seem like a thing in creation. Here one will recognize a great deal of the terminology I use which I find all over this book. I didn't read it that much I don't think I got it form the book. Yet he definitely has the same concerns and use many of the phrases I thought were my own. Some of these concerns cross paths with Tillich. So how did we go from Augustine's "God who is closer to me than my inmost being" to God as an efficient cause for things that happen in the world?

Placher focuses on seventeenth century divines who were no longer content to experience a reality beyond our understanding, but wanted to think it out to the level of obliterating all problems of understanding. For theologians before the seventeenth century God's transcendence was not "contrastive." Talk about transcendence did not make God less immanent. The mystics of the mid dark ages (Dionysus 500AD) spoke of God as totally remote in some vastly far flung realm, but didn't make God non participatory or absent from the world. It was because God was transcendent (transcendence also includes immanence) that God could be immanent in all of creation (Placher, 128).

Since God was not one agent among others, but operated at a different level of agency it made no sense to ask which things had been done by God or which things has been done by someone or something else.AT the beginning of the modern era, however,theologians and philosophers began to worry about just where to put God in the universe. Debates about miracles and about Grace and free will dominated the theology of seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and both of those debates involved asking which things God, as opposed to someone or something else, did.(ibid)
The nature of thought about the world at that time creates forces that influenced theologians to seek to explain God's place in the world in such a way as to locate him in the world alongside things. Placher talks about language growing in univocity, that means stripping it of indications of higher realms. Also the turn away from viewing reality as a hierarchy of levels made up of remote realms (ibid). This all goes hand in hand with what Fairweather says in his essay on "Christianity and the Supernatural" (New Theology No 1, circa 1964, ed. Martin E. Marty). He traces the bifurcation of immanence and transcendence to enlightenment univocity and Reformation equivocity. In other words, the enlightenment became reductionist and grounding everything in physical science sought immediate and visible sense data oriented explanations for psychical reality alone. While the Calvinist severed the relation between the world and the spirit, the immanent and transcendent, the harmonious relation between the two facets of the one reality that Fairweather talks about and put emphasis upon the "other worldly." Then because the two (immanent and transcendent, nature and super nature) are not harmonious anymore to bind them together a phony supernaturalism that magnifies some aspect of nature (the will) and places it over against the rest of nature as a false transcendent based upon something we know and can understand.

This is all Fariweather's notion form the article in the anthology edited by Marty but Placher follows along those same lines. He goes into much greater detail in his book than Fairweather did in an article. These are also the ideas behind my essay on Supernature on Doxa. Placher's work is invaluable for understanding the SN and for answering the problematic questions raised by atheists in their desire to disprove concept of alternative realms. The atheist concept of SN as a realm beyond the natural is an extension of both tendencies form the enlightenment and from the Calvinists. It's an attempt to put God on a level with things in creation while denouncing the concept of God as 'removed' or 'unnecessary' or 'something beyond the realm we can control.'

Placher provides a complex and nuanced understanding of the thinking which created the divide between a world charged by supernatural and world forever collapsed into one dimension of nature, one voice (univocal).This has to be understood if we are going to re-claim historical Christianity and move beyond the reductionism that currently threatens the very possibility of belief. It's a powerful weapon in my arsenal to wave about in the face of those who butcher the meaning of supernatural. It belongs up there with books like Nature and Grace by Mathias Joseph Scheeben which explicated the meaning of the Supernatural.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Atheist Circular Reasoning in Miracle Daniel

Image result for Miracles

The circular reasoning to which I refer is the assertion athesits make that based upon the past inability to prove miracles that miracles have never happened before, thus this presumption counts against current evidence of miracles. The problem with that is past denials are not based upon lack of evidence but upon dismissing the evidence out of hand. Then a long string of denial has built up over the years as case after case is passed off for no good reason, the alleged lack of evidence is assume to be based upon a real lack which is not true. The proof is in the fact that modern cases have good evidence to support them.

I used four examples of modern cases of resurrection, one being my own father who was clinically dead for 11 minutes before being revived. The real "miracle" (according to his own doctor) was not so much revival (although that is amazing but not unknown) the real issue was an 89 year old man who had suffered three massive heart attacks in one day bounding back with a strong rhythmical heart beat. He said "I have never used the term 'miracle' in my pactice before, but this has to be a miracle."

Of course the skeptics who weren't even there and didn't talk to the Doctor always claim that he didn't mean, or he's a bad doctor and so on.
Atheists never deal with the evidence for the res. That evidence is historical data which set up the circumstances such that one can argue that the resurrection is the most logical solution to explain the data.

Rather than deal with that atheists always go for the philosophical level of asserting the impossibility of resurrection based upon the normal in human observation.

There are three things that are logically wrong with this approach.

(1) It's a bait and switch.

The Christian concept is that God intervened to do something beyond the norm. So atheists come back and say "this is not the norm." Well so what? It's not supposed to be the norm it's a break from the norm. They get everyone to worrying about "no ever raises from the dead." No they don't that's why it's amazing.

they issuing red herrings and taking us off the trail by hysteria and hyperbolic versions of the same argument. It's just a red herring nonetheless because the whole point of the even is that it doesn't happen. God did the impossible.

(2) Their notion of natural law is so weak and un-law like that it doesn't amount to a reason to doubt miracles.

They believe in descriptive natural law. I'm going to call "natural suggestion" becuase it's not a law at all. So they want us to think "this can't happen" but there is no reason why it can't. The only argument is about "we don't ever see it happen."

in fact you shouldn't because God did something amazing with Christ not something in the norm. But that's no physical law to prevent miracles because there is only natural suggestion not natural law.

(3) Because descriptive natural suggestion is based upon our concepts of the universe it can be wrong.

What they replace natural law with is description based upon our observation. We have no other set of observation to go by. Our observations are so very limited. We allow tons of things to fall through the cracks.

Hey by their very reckoning life itself, the existence of the earth, the place earth occupies in the solar system that allows life to flourish, the fact that the universe can bear life, all of that represents thing that falll through the cracks, things that happened despite overwhelming odds against it.

(a) The fact that some report resurrections shows us that resurrections may fall through cracks.

In other words, our observations are not complete, so there may be resurrections. In such are reported. they dismiss them because they are part of their descriptions, but their descriptions are based upon such a limited sample.

I've known four people who were dead then were alive again:

a1. My father, dead for 11 minutes, doctor said it was a "miracle"

a2. Dr. Richard Ebby whom I met and I felt such a strong presence of God anointing him I think he was speaking the truth.

a3. a Russian guy named Grigorievich Rodonai who I was introduced by by my professor t Perkins. He has been shot by the KGB and was pronounced dead and lay in the morgue for 3 days.

I can't vouch for this one but it is a claim:

Just remember that's in the media.

(b) Other miracles

the fact of other miracles should be evidence enough. No miracle should be possible if resurrection isn't possible. If some aspect of the physical universe is such that "laws" can't be violated nothing should be able to violate them.

illness doesn't just heal overnight, lungs don't just grow back over night that these are observed is a good indication that our observations are limited.

b1. Casdropugh miracles

Study: The Miracles: A Doctor says "Yes"
by Richard H. Casdorph.(Logos International, 1976)

Richard H. Casdroph collected medical evidence, x-rays, angeograms, and other data from 10 cases associated with the Kathryn Kulhman ministry. Now it will of course strike skeptics as laughable to document miracles of a faith healer. Ordinarily I myself tend to be highly skeptical of any televangelists. I am sitll skpeptical of Kulhman because of her highly theatrical manner. But I always had the impression that there was actual documentation of her miralces, and I guess that impression was created by the Casdorph book.

The Casdroph book goes into great deatail on every case. Since these were not the acutal patients of Casdroph himself, there are 3 tiers of medical data and opinion; Casdroph himself and his evaluation of the data, several doctors whith whom he consluted on every case, and they very from case to case, and the original doctros of the patents themselves. The patients gave their permission and were happy to provide the medical data on their healings since they were all people who had written to the Kulhman ministry with words of their healings. Not all of them were healed immediately in the meeting. Some were healed latter when they got hom.Naturally no one had a x-ray machine standing by at the faith meeting to crank out results like a x-rox copy, so all of them took some period of time to see the results. Not all of them were toally healed immediately. But all the cases were either terminal or incurrable and all of them, within a year, returned to full health and pain free existences.

Dr. Richard Steiner, of the American Board of Pathology, head of department of Pathology Long Beach Community Hosptial reviwed several of the slides. William Olson, American Board of Internal Medicine and head of Isatope Department at Long Beach Community Hospital, and several radiologists form that Hospital also consulted on the rest of the cases.

1)Reticulum cell Sarcoma, right pelvic bone.
2)Chronic Rheumatoid Arthritis with Severe Disability
3)Malignat Brain Tumor (Glioma) of the left Temoperal lobe
4)Multiple Sclorosis
5)Arterioscloratic Heart Disease
6)Carcinoma of the Kidney (Hypernephroma)
7) Mixted Rhumatoid Arthritis with Osteoarthritis
8)Probable Brain Tumor vs Infarction of the Brain
9)Massive GI Hemorrhage with GI shock (instantly healed)
10)Ostioprosis of the Etire Spine

All of these people were totally healed of incurrable or terminal states. The one commonality they all have is that they were at some point prayed for by the same person, Kulhman. Let's look at a few examples:

1)Lisa Larios: Cell Sarcoma of the right Pevic bone.

Larios didn't know she had cancer. She had developed a great deal of pain in her pevis and was confined to a wheel chair, but the doctors had not found the evidence of the tumor at the time her mother took her to hear Kulhman. Yet, when Miss Kulhman said "someone over here is being healed of cancer, pelase stand up" she stood up wihtout knowing why. She had already started feeling a strange heat in that area and had ceased to feel pain. She went up onto the stage and walked around without pain. She was than "slain in the spirit" which is that odd thing when the healer palces his/her hand on the forehead and the person falls over in a faint. It took some time to recieve the next set of xrays becasue she only learned after the meeting some days latter that she had cancer. Than the next set of xrays showed vast and daramtic improvement. It would still be some time,almost a year, before her pelivis was completely resorted. But she did return to full health. The Catholics wouldn't except this miracle because it could be confussed with a normal remission. The power of suggestion can be ruled out because the heat started before she was called to the stage, and because she didn't even know she had cancer, but responded to a call for healing of cancer. The first dramatic improvement which was immeidate within a few days, and walking on the stage is not characteristic of remission. Casdroph has the medical evidence from several hospitals to which she had been taken.

3)Mrs. Marie Rosenberger: Milignant Brain Tumor.

"Three things make this case an exceptionally excelent example of divine healing. 1) medical evidence of the case includes biopsy proof of the milignant nature of the tumor. The slides were obtained from Hollywood community Hospital and reviewed by the head pathologist at Long Beach community Hostpital who confirmed the diagnosis of milignant astrocytoma or glioma class II. 2) When the healing occurred Marie Rosenberger was down to 101 pounds and was expected to die."

The healing began to manifest immediately and by the next moring was evident. She recieved no futher drugs or medication from that point on. 3) The third thing that makes the case good is the long term nature of the healing. Her diagnosis was in 1970 and by the time Casdroph wrote the book in 76 she was still healthy and happy with no sign of the disease since the healing (which was in 1971 one year after the diagnosis).

b2. Lourdes



The paradox of human miracle assessment is that the only way to discern whether a phenomenon is supernatural is by having trained rationalists testify that it outstrips their training. Since most wonders admitted by the modern church are medical cures, it consults with doctors. Di Ruberto has access to a pool of 60 - "We've got all the medical branches covered," says his colleague, Dr. Ennio Ensoli - and assigns each purported miracle to two specialists on the vanquished ailment.

They apply criteria established in the 1700s by Pope Benedict XIV: among them, that the disease was serious; that there was objective proof of its existence; that other treatments failed; and that the cure was rapid and lasting. Any one can be a stumbling block. Pain, explains Ensoli, means little: "Someone might say he feels bad, but how do you measure that?" Leukemia remissions are not considered until they have lasted a decade. A cure attributable to human effort, however prayed for, is insufficient. "Sometimes we have cases that you could call exceptional, but that's not enough." says Ensoli. "Exceptional doesn't mean inexplicable."

"Inexplicable," or inspiegabile, is the happy label that Di Ruberto, the doctors and several other clerics in the Vatican's "medical conference" give to a case if it survives their scrutiny. It then passes to a panel of theologians, who must determine whether the inexplicable resulted from prayer. If so, the miracle is usually approved by a caucus of Cardinals and the Pope.

Some find the process all too rigorous. Says Father Paolino Rossi, whose job, in effect, is lobbying for would-be saints from his own Capuchin order: "It's pretty disappointing when you work for years and years and then see the miracle get rejected." But others suggest it could be stricter still.

There is another major miracle-validating body in the Catholic world: the International Medical Committee for the shrine at Lourdes. Since miracles at Lourdes are all ascribed to the intercession of the Virgin Mary, it is not caught up in the saint-making process, which some believe the Pope has running overtime. Roger Pilon, the head of Lourdes' committee, notes that he and his colleagues have not approved a miracle since 1989, while the Vatican recommended 12 in 1994 alone. "Are we too severe?" he wonders out loud. "Are they really using the same criteria?"

The Marian Library Newsletter

No. 38 (New Series)
Summer, 1999

Marian Library (Ibid.)

"In the last one hundred years, over 6,500 individuals have reported cures to the Medical Bureau. Of these, at least 2,500 cases are considered truly remarkable, but they lack some requirement needed to allow them to advance to the next stage--witnesses, evidence, lack of agreement on the nature of the ailment. In the last twenty years, there have been reports of about twenty cases of extraordinary cures or healings, about one a year. Mr. Bély's healing is the 66th cure occurring at Lourdes which has been officially recognized by ecclesiastical authorities. The recognition by church authorities has been a feature of Lourdes for a total of sixty- three years of its history."

b3. Charles Anne's Lungs

Society for the Little Flower (Website) FAQ (visited 6/3/01)
St. Theresse of Lisieux

"Regarding St. Therese, in 1923 the Church approved of two spontaneous cures unexplained by medical treatment. Sister Louise of St. Germain was cured of the stomach ulcers she had between 1913 and 1916. The second cure involved Charles Anne, a 23 year old seminarian who was dying from advanced pulmonary tuberculosis. The night he thought he was dying, Charles prayed to Therese. Afterward, the examining doctor testified, "The destroyed and ravaged lungs had been replaced by new lungs, carrying out their normal functions and about to revive the entire organism. A slight emaciation persists, which will disappear within a few days under a regularly assimilated diet." These two miracles resulted in Therese becoming beatified."

C. Atheist argument based upon circular reasoning.

Circular reasonnig masquerading as scinece. It says

*we refuse to accept accounts of miracles because we don't see them
*therefore we have no evidence of miracles
*therefore miracles don't happen.

then any new evidence brought in they just evoke the circular of reasoning. all those past accounts were dismissed becasue we don't observes ourselves, so this can't evidence fo miracle because they don't happen.

therefore there is no evidence. The truth is there's a ton of evidence they just pass on it because they don't want it to be true.

as long as their notion of physical law is descriptive and as long they are not omniscient they can never guarantee that their observations are 100% accurate. miracle can fall between the cracks.

so some comments by atheists to this very post:
these are real comments by actual atheists.

Especially since no Lourdes study ever counted the unexplained remissions elsewhere.

they don't have to. that's the advantage of going case by case. It's not a field trial for a drug. tis' a will that decided on a case by case basis. the fact there may not be many doesn't prove anything. Moreover the rules are designed to screen out remission. they do that by not taking cases with high remission rates.

It's rather pathetic that you actually believe it.
Tyrrho 2:
Okay, so since you seem to be taking this Russian guy at his word that he was dead for three days, how does he know that he was really dead?
(because he woke up in the morgue)

Tyrrho again:

"Because there is zero evidence to back it up, rather simple concept that will be lost on you. "

this is just gain saying the evidence. there is clearly evidence in the post above.


Really? Where is the research that eliminates any natural causation? Do they have a peer reviewed science journal where that research is published?
listed above in the post. See how their basic argument is "we ignored this in the past so therefore we ignore it again?"

I really don't give a crap if you think it is evidence or not because you have shown us time and again that not only do you have pathetically low criteria for evidence you would not know the what actual evidence is if it jumped up and bit you. You have never once presented evidence all you do is present the same tired nonsense that you think is evidence ie; personal opinion that no one in their right mind would accept as such. I also have to add that anything from your DOXA website is worthless drivel.
(1) his assertion that I've shown 'time and time again' that I have a low standard for evidence is of course based upon other times when he refused to read the material and made gainsaying his answer instead of understand what I said. this is gold! he's doing exactly what I said they would do. He's using the circular reasoning of past incredulity to rule out current evidence.

(2) "never presented evidence all you do is present the same tired nonsense"

the tired nonsense is the evidence. I keep presenting it becuase you never answer it you just dismiss it as tired nonsense because you always have before.

you can't give me one single reason why it is.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

an interesting summary on Bible teaching on hell


A good exposition on hell as taught in the Bible. I don;t necessarily agree with all he says,
Lex Myer, the grafted church. Oklahoma City. They are legalistic "Jewish: Christians,"
Torah observant Jewish Christians. I do not endorse this group but I do like what he says in this episode.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Imposing Our Values Upon God and Science

 photo Ross_zps2f2f4acb.jpg

Lee D. Ross, Stanford 
Psychology Dept. 

Two studies seem to suggest that Christians project their own social values onto God. Nicholas Epley fins that:

People often reason egocentrically about others’ beliefs, using
their own beliefs as an inductive guide. Correlational, experimen-
tal, and neuroimaging evidence suggests that people may be even
more egocentric when reasoning about a religious agent’s beliefs
(e.g., God). In both nationally representative and more local sam-
ples, people’s own beliefs on important social and ethical issues
beliefs than with estimates of other people’s beliefs (Studies 1–4).
Manipulating people’s beliefs similarly influenced estimates of
God’s beliefs but did not as consistently influence estimates of
other people’s beliefs (Studies 5 and 6). A final neuroimaging study
demonstrated a clear convergence in neural activity when reason-
ing about one’s own beliefs and God’s beliefs, but clear diver-
gences when reasoning about another person’s beliefs (Study 7).
In particular, reasoning about God’s beliefs activated areas asso-
ciated with self-referential thinking more so than did reasoning
about another person’s beliefs. Believers commonly use inferences
about God’s beliefs as a moral compass, but that compass appears
especially dependent on one’s own existing beliefs.[1]
 The other is by Lee D. Ross

The present study explores the dramatic projection of one’s own views onto those of Jesus among conservative and liberal American Christians. In a large-scale survey, the relevant views that each group attributed to a contemporary Jesus differed almost as much as their own views. Despite such dissonance-reducing projection, however, conservatives acknowledged the relevant discrepancy with regard to “fellowship” issues (e.g., taxation to reduce economic inequality and treatment of immigrants) and liberals acknowledged the relevant discrepancy with regard to “morality” issues (e.g., abortion and gay marriage). However, conservatives also claimed that a contemporary Jesus would be even more conservative than themselves on the former issues whereas liberals claimed that Jesus would be even more liberal than themselves on the latter issues. Further reducing potential dissonance, liberal and conservative Christians differed markedly in the types of issues they claimed to be more central to their faith. A concluding discussion considers the relationship between individual motivational processes and more social processes that may underlie the present findings, as well as implications for contemporary social and political conflict. [2]

This has led some atheists on message boards to advance these studies as proof of the illogical nature of Christianity. It reinforces the atheist's idea that if God did exist it would be impossible to understand what he wants. "So why should atheists (or anyone, for that matter) take theists seriously when theists talk about what God is like, what God wants, what God commands, etc., if theist's are just unconsciously using God as a sound-board for their own positions?."[3]

These studies are put over as a disproof of the veracity of Christian thought, but in reality they are nothing of the kind. They are actually making good points (not that I have evaluated their validity of studies). These are not points that undo the validity of Christian, far from they are points I've thought about deeply since the Reagan era. I think these are things God wants us to think about. We should understand that we have a tendency to project our social projects and our prejudices and our cultural constructs on to God. We should ask "how can we know the difference?" The problem is the atheists make assumptions about the ultimate inability to know God, from a position of unbelief. Thus they blind to the prospect that we can know God. We can understand the distinction between our own ideas and what God wants. We can know God and we can Know what God wants. Before going into that I want to make another argument: it doesn't invalidate Christianity in any way becuase it's certainly not unique to Christianity. It's very much in line with the sort of thing that marks humans as human. In every walk of life, in all politics, atheist are exception, it's an occupational hazard of being human.

The second researcher sited above, Lee Ross,  has another study that was conviently over looked. That study says that Objectivity is not a human characteristic and we all project our things onto others no matter who we are or what our world view.

Important asymmetries between self-perception and social perception arise from the simple fact that other people’s actions, judgments, and priorities sometimes differ from one’s own. This leads people not only to make more dispositional inferences about others than about themselves (E. E. Jones & R. E. Nisbett, 1972) but also to see others as more susceptible to a host of cognitive and motivational biases. Although this blind spot regarding one’s own biases may serve familiar self-enhancement motives, it is also a
product of the phenomenological stance of naive realism.It is exacerbated, furthermore, by people’s tendency to attach greater credence to their own introspections about potential influences on judgment and behavior than they attach to similar introspections by others. The authors review evidence, new and old, of this asymmetry and its underlying causes and discuss its relation to other psychological phenomena and to interpersonal and intergroup conflict.[4]
The Ross article quotes, right after the abstract:
And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye but
considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?
—Matthew 7:3 (King James Version)
The atheist stock in trade is objectivity. They like to employ the fortress of facts idea that they have the big pile of facts and objective thinking and religion is just subjective nonsense with no facts behind it. In fact, humans research according to their biases and objectivity is an illusion. The same criticisms being made of Christianity can also be made of atheism or any other "ism" or any other view point. In fact while this is put over as the triumph of scinece over Christianity it's actually good example of atheists imposing their own views upon scinece. Those who evoke these first two studies without being aware of Ross's second study are merely employing the fortress of facts strategy. Rather than seeking to ask himself "are we doing this ourselves" they are content to assume it's only Christians and thus fall prey to the same idea.

The more insightful theological types are very aware of the metaphorical and analogical nature of all religious language. God is beyond our understanding. We can't discuss directly what we get from religious experience because we get it at a subliminal level. We can only relate to it and discuss it when we filter it through cultural constructs. That's what give each tradition it's won unique character.

It's not less true of secular philosophy or ethics. We are imposing culturally constructed values on scinece. The book Leviathan and the Air Pump by Shapin and Shaffer proved this is the case in the making of modern scinece. All the brave talk about "objectivity" is just so much crap. we are not objective. Look at how afraid the atheists have been to read my studies. not one study have their read. they refused to look at Hood's chapter (Put it up 147 times 2 people looked at it one of them admitted he didn't understand it and the other claimed she did but she didn't). Objectivity on the part of humans is a joke and a propaganda device. Shapin and Shaffer prove that science is based upon political space.

Ross writes:

This familiar biblical quotation describes an age-old double
standard in the way people perceive themselves versus their peers.
We suspect that people not only are subject to this double standard
but also are inclined to believe that their peers are more subject to
it than they are themselves. In the present article, we argue that
people readily detect or infer a wide variety of biases in others
while denying such biases in themselves. We place this argument
in the larger context of theory and research on the relationship
between self-perception and social perception. In particular, the
ideas we advance can be seen as an extension of Jones and
Nisbett’s (1972) conceptual analysis of divergent actor– observer
attributions, with the focus of our analysis shifting from judgments
about traits to judgments about biase. [5]
Of course we as Christians We should be not only self aware but also self critical. We should have the guts and honesty to be brutal enough with ourselves to say "is this really what god wants or is it just me?" How do we know what God wants? Of cousre there is no magic assurance that we get it right. That's the whole point of  Grace. We seek to please God in our hearts and whatever is in the gap or the short coming is covered by God's grace. There's no great mystery about how to know God's will.We have to learn the teachings of Jesus and keep to understand them in terms of general principles then apply those principles to our own context, heuristically, culturally, personally. Where that becomes hard is where it gets int the way of our personal expectations and biases. It's not prejudice that stands in the way of following God but our expectations, what we personally want the way we have it all "cracked up." That's where applying the principles becomes difficult. James 4:3 tells us: "When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures." As the quote above reveals we need to put ourselves in the other guys shoes more often.

The only real "cure" requires diligence and strength but it is to spend time in prayer. The time we spend with God, imbibing of the divine presence and learning to know what is really God from what we want is the difference between maturity and immaturity.


[1]Nicholas Epley, et al, "Believer's estimates of God's beliefs are more egocentric than estimates of other people's beliefs." PDF
accessed 9/9/13
[2]Lee D. Ross, et al, "How Christians Reconcile thier Personal Political Views and Teachings of their faith: Projection as a means of dissonance of Reduction." PDF, Department of Pschology Standford University.
accessed 9/9/13
[3] A poster on a message board. accessed 9/9/13
[4] Lee D. Ross, Thomas Gilvoich. "Objetivity is in the Eye of the Beholder: Divergent Perceptions of Bias In Self Verus Others. " PDF  accessed 9/9/13.
Thomas Gilvoich is at Cornell University.
[5] Ibid.