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|Posted by JMB on March 19, 2013 at 4:40 PM||comments (0)|
I wrote a book, The Utility of Christianity, a Concise History. I think of the book as being a history of Christian values transforming European based societies. I would like to get member of this website to read my book and give me feed back on what they see. I will send you a pdf copy of the book if you will give me your email address. The following is a summary of the book:
Christianity is at heart a social and economic response toward society. Anytime in history that the common people are excluded from the social process, they form a counter culture. In the Roman Empire one of those counter cultures was Christianity.
When Christianity was taken over by the Roman government in the forth century, Islam eventually arose as a response to government control of the Christian Church. In that respect Islam is a counter culture movement that not only rallied against the Roman Empire but also against the Christian Church of the Roman Empire.
The Roman Christian Church responded to the challenge presented by Islam with Thomism. Thomism attempted to meld the philosophies of Christianity and Islam, which is to say, reconcile Platoism and Neo-Platonism with the philosophy of Aristotle.
The resulting secularization or materialization of Christianity, this move away from Pauline Christianity supported by Platoism and Neo-Platonism was rejected by many Christians. Many of these Christians who rejected Thomism were Catholic Priests. These priests began to offer other alternatives to Thomism. Some offered Christian Humanism, which is to say a return to the classical Greek and Roman roots of Christianity. Others offered a reversion to Platonism, while still more conservative Priests chose a return to pure Paulism, which presented itself as a belief in the Bible alone. Sola Scriptura turned out to be a genius move, something like check or check mate in chess. Basically if a person had a conversion experience and studied the Bible they entered into the priesthood of believers. As a member of the priesthood of believers they stood equal before God to anyone on earth (Royalty or Priest). Sola Scriptura resulting in the priesthood of believers paved the foundation for social freedom. This was the first time in history that the common people had a RIGHT to social standing. Equally important, sine the Bible was the only source for religion, the political and legal foundation of society was limited to the Bible, one book. This resulted in universal education. The USA had 94% literacy when the rest of Europe had about 10% to 15% literacy. This course of events starting with Sola Scriptura leading to the Priesthood of believers founded on Bible study which resulted in a 94% literacy rate is the most important populist movement in world history.
Sola Scriptura would cause a break with Neo-Platonism. This break with Platonism and Neo-Platonism would cause or allow Christianity to drift away from the core structural values and dogma that had defined the Christian community in Europe for over 1000 years.
So Martin Luther tried to hold Christianity true to its 1st Century mission by proclaiming Sola Scriptura to check the drift into materialism, and in the process he striped away many of the social conventions, (ie 7 of the 10 sacraments of the Catholic Church) that unified Europe since the 4th Century. This break with Platonism provides the ground work for a post-Roman Catholic culture to emerge in Europe. This is also the end of social stability and stratification in Europe.
Europeans would spend the next 500 years trying to figure out how to reestablish the stability of the Middle Ages. Christian reformers, socialists and fascists will all try to reconfigure European society to include facets of Middle Ages culture. The socialists will try to recreate the peasant village with no Lords or Priests. The Fascists - Nazi's will try to recreate the peasant villages as a fiefdom run by Knights or Lords. Christians, now little more than isolated individuals consoled by nothing more than a Bible, continued to try to regain the true essence of 1st Century Christianity, or Pure Christianity that earned them the title Puritans. (Not unlike Pure Land Buddhists who were trying to get back to the true teachings of Buddha.) The splintering of European society would continue with some groups deciding to abandon Plato (the father of European philosophy) and Christianity and side with Aristotle, which you need to keep in mind was the favored philosophy of Islam. From about 1500 to the present there has been a lot of soul searching in European society. To me the best way to understand a summary of this 500 year old debate is to read some of the classics of literature and the classic philosophers. The isolated soul searching - lost European culture is summed up well by Kirkegaard and Nietzsche. These people and this culture have no reason for existence, no cultural resolve, therefore they have to create their own meaning in life. An easy way to understand this cultural event is by referring to the Zen Buddhist experience of going beyond language, beyond story, and one could say get outside of ones cultural story. In this case the unifying European story has ceased to exist, and the Zen Buddhist might exclaim, you are so lucky, you are free! The Europeans have gained a type of enlightenment by escaping their cultural entrapment. The pity is that freed from their cultural purpose, - role playing - individuals and nations often seek self destruction. This entire debate (Paul, Plato, Aristotle, Thomism, Humanism, Reformation, Sola Scriptura, Priesthood of Believers, Islam, post-Christian, scientific materialism, cultural isolation, modernism, post-modernism) would provide the ground work for the intellectual debates of the 20th Century.
Nietzsche showed European Christians that they were no longer truly Christians. They had lost the central tenants of Christian dogma. People who identified themselves as Christians were not willing to look into that mirror and see the people Nietzsche suggested they really were. Basically, Nietzsche concluded that they were, by in large, a bunch of Aristotlian materialists that had more in common with Greek and Roman pagan cultures than they had with 1st Century Christianity. So, while Nietzsche's critique is rather rude and abrupt it is very insightful. Ironically, American Christians now resemble the European Christians from 100 years ago. American Christians pretend to be Christian while merging with secular society. American Christians no longer have a distinct philosophy that unifies them as a social enclave or community. I would lament, what a pity. I would argue that true Christianity was the redemption of European society and the foundation of the North American European Colonies.
So, in conclusion, as European and American societies drive to create a new period of social continuity, a new period of Universalism not unlike the Roman Empire, the Christian community is faltering. Either the Christian community will rediscover its historical mission, which is to protect the disenfranchised, or a new religion will arise to provide that function. Just as Islam arose in the Middle East to replace Christianity when it failed to buffer the common people from the Roman Empire.
That is the book in a nut-shell. Follow the dialogue on Face-Book for a simplified review.
|Posted by Robert Mills on November 11, 2011 at 10:35 AM||comments (0)|
We can have a specific Faith based witness with the Occupy movement and also make Christian Socialism a prominent and visible voice amidst all the other voices. I am calling all to consider organizing a Walls of Jericho Action. And in the spirit of Joshua we can march, and occupy places which are symbols of oppression, greed, and capitalist exploitation. To tear down the walls of injustice and make the call for a Socialist agenda.
A true revolution of values will soon cause us to question the fairness and justice of many of our past and present policies. ... A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth. With righteous indignation, it will look across the seas and see individual capitalists of the West investing huge sums of money in Asia, Africa and South America, only to take the profits out with no concern for the social betterment of the countries, and say: "This is not just." Dr Martin Luther King Jr
We cannot, as People of Faith be silent on this issue. Our Faith calls us to action and to prayer. So as a united people, of one accord we can challenge the triple evils of matrialism, militarism and racism by cchallenging the Wall Street oligarchy and by calling people to a different kind of occupation, one based on charity and justice. Join us here and everywhere.
Contact me here if you want to be a part of this, or join the event on Facebook and post your ideas and news. It will posted on Facebook as an event for as long as needed. I can also start a weebly web page if enough interest is generated.
|Posted by Robert Mills on January 6, 2011 at 8:21 PM||comments (1)|
A.C.T.S. is a community building movement, can be used within your own Faith journey and is designed for use by groups within a particular Church or community group. It is not designed to be used as an isloated study group, but for use by congregations who may find agreement with it and want to pursuit community renewal in rediscovering the early Church experience. It is neither an attempt to create a new Congregation but could be used as a starting point for one which does not exist in your local community.
First Week: I. Assembled: Here we mean a gathering. The word that generally translated as "church" in the English Bible is ecclesia. Here is what the Free On Line Dictionary says:
n pl -siae [-zɪˌiː]
1. (Christianity / Ecclesiastical Terms) (in formal Church usage) a congregation
2. (Historical Terms) the assembly of citizens of an ancient Greek state
Here we used assembled to mean a self governing congregation.
SECOND WEEK: II. Catholic: The word means universal and has been applied to the Christian Church since the second century of the common era.
Again the Free On Line Dictionary says:
cath·o·lic (kth-lk, kthlk)
1. Of broad or liberal scope; comprehensive.
2. Including or concerning all humankind; universal: "what was of catholic rather than national interest" (J.A. Froude).
a. Of or involving the Roman Catholic Church.
b. Of or relating to the universal Christian church.
c. Of or relating to the ancient undivided Christian church.
d. Of or relating to those churches that have claimed to be representatives of the ancient undivided church.
A member of a Catholic church, especially a Roman Catholic.
Webster adds: 1. A person who accepts the creeds which are received in common by all parts of the orthodox Christian church.
Here we use catholic to mean any Christian who accepts as
ecumenical and binding the Nicaean Creed, the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, the Communion of Saints, and Apostolic teaching authority of ecumenical Church. We don't wish to exclude other Christians. We acknowledge them as part of the body of Christ. However, we respect our brothers and sisters enough not to wish to burden them with discussions of patristics, Marian devotions, and veneration of saints which are not reconcilable with acceptance of the "five solas" of the Reformation.
THIRD WEEK: Toward: The use of the word toward would indicate we do not believe that socialism has ever been achieved on anything but small local scale.
FOURTH WEEK: Socialism: This is the scariest word. Again let's turn to the Free On Line Dictionary:
so·cial·ism (sō′s̸həl iz′əm)
1. any of various theories or systems of the ownership and operation of the means of production and distribution by society or the community rather than by private individuals, with all members of society or the community sharing in the work and the products
A. a political movement for establishing such a system
B.the doctrines, methods, etc. of the Socialist parties
3. the stage of society, in Marxist doctrine, coming between the capitalist stage and the communist stage, in which private ownership of the means of production and distribution has been eliminated.
What does this have to do with Catholic Christianity? Obviously the groups name produces the acronym ACTS. So let us look to that book of Bible to see how the original Christians lived.
All that believed were together, and had all things in common; And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.