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Christian Atheism
Glory to God for all Things ^ | August 20, 2007 | Father Stephen

Posted on 06/28/2008 9:38:51 AM PDT by annalex

Christian Atheism

christ_comm_cup_kiev2.jpg

The title for this post sounds like an oxymoron, and, of course, it is. How can one be both an atheist and a Christian? Again, I am wanting to push the understanding of the one-versus-two-storey universe. In the history of religious thought, one of the closest versions to what I am describing as a “two-storey” world-view, is that espoused by classical Deism (the philosophy espoused by a number of the American founding fathers).

They had an almost pure, two-storey worldview. God, “the Deity,” had created the universe in the beginning, setting it in motion. He had done so in such a way that the world could be described as directed by His Providence, but not in any sense interfered with after its creation. Thomas Jefferson produced a New Testament, wholly in tune with this philosophy. He expunged all reference to miracle and kept only those things he considered to have a purpose in “moral teaching.” The creator had accomplished His work: it was up to us to conform ourselves to His purposes and morality - which were pretty indistinguishable from natural law. If you read the writings of the period it’s much more common to read Providence where a Christian might put God. Many modern evangelicals mistakenly read such statements as Christian.

Functionally, other than having some notion of an original Creator, Deists were practical atheists. The God Who created had completed His work. Ethics were as much a matter of scientific discovery as any other principle of physics. They believed in something they called “God” or “Providence” but only in a very divorced sense. It would be hard to distinguish their thought from that of an atheist except that they clung to an idea of God at least as the initiator of all things.

I have here introduced the notion of “practical atheism,” meaning by it, that although a person may espouse a belief in God, it is quite possible for that belief to be so removed from everyday life, that God’s non-existence would make little difference.

Surprisingly, I would place some forms of Christian fundamentalism within this category (as I have defined it). I recall a group affiliated with some particular Church of Christ, who regularly evangelized our apartment complex when I lived in Columbia, S.C. They were also a constant presence on the campus of the local university. They were absolute inerrantists on the subject of the Holy Scriptures. They were equally adamant that all miracles had ceased with the completion of the canon of the New Testament. Christians today only relate to God through the Bible.

Such a group can be called “Biblicists,” or something, but, in the terminology I am using here, I would describe them as “practical atheists.” Though they had great, even absolutist, faith in the Holy Scriptures, they had no relationship with a God who is living and active and directly involved in their world. Had their notion of a God died, and left somebody else in charge of His heaven, it would not have made much difference so long as the rules did not change.

I realize that this is strong criticism, but it is important for us to understand what is at stake. The more the secular world is exalted as secular, that is, having an existence somehow independent of God, the more we will live as practical atheists - perhaps practical atheists who pray (but for what do we pray?). I would also suggest that the more secular the world becomes for Christians, the more political Christians will become. We will necessarily resort to the same tools and weapons as those who do not believe.

Christianity that has purged the Church of the sacraments, and of the sacramental, have only ideas which can be substituted - the result being the eradication of God from the world in all ways other than theoretical. Of course, since much of modern Christianity functions on this ideological level rather than the level of the God-Who-is among-us, much of Christianity functions in a mode of practical atheism. The more ideological the faith, the more likely its proponents are to expouse what amounts to a practical atheism.

Orthodox Christianity, with its wealth of dogma and Tradition, could easily be translated into this model - and I have encountered it in such a form. But it is a falsification of Orthodoxy. Sacraments must not be quasi-magical moments in which a carefully defined grace is transmitted to us - they must, instead, threaten to swallow up the whole world. The medieval limitation of sacraments to the number 7 comes far too close to removing sacraments from the world itself. Orthodoxy seems to have declared that there are 7 sacraments solely as a response to Western Reform and Catholic arguments. In some sense, everything is a sacrament - the whole world is a sacrament.

However, if we only say that the whole world is a sacrament, soon nothing will be a sacrament. Thus the sacraments recognized as such by the Church, should serve not just for pointing to themselves, but also pointing to God and to everything around us. Holy Baptism should change all water. The Cross should change all trees, etc. But Baptism gives the definition: water does not define Baptism. Neither do trees define the Cross. Nor does man define Christ. Christ defines what it is to be human, etc.

The more truly sacramental becomes the Christian life, the more thoroughly grounded it is in the God-Who-is-among-us. Such a God is indeed, “everywhere present and filling all things.” Our options are between such a God - as proclaimed in the New Testament - or a God who need be no God at all for He is removed from us anyway.

At the Divine Liturgy, before approaching the Communion Cup, Orthodox Christians pray together:

I believe, O Lord, and I confess that Thou art truly the Christ the Son of the living God who camest into the world to save sinners, of whom I am first. I believe also that this is truly Thine own most pure Body, and that this is truly Thine own precious Blood. Therefore, I pray Thee: have mercy upon me and forgive my transgressions both voluntary and involuntary, of word and of deed, committed in knowledge or in ignorance. And make me worthy to partake without condemnation of Thy most pure Mysteries, for the remission of my sins, and unto life everlasting. Amen.

There is not a single hint of a distance between us and God. At this point, having prepared for communion, having confessed our sins, we stand at the very center of the universe, before the God Who Is, before the God with Whom Moses conversed on Mt. Sinai, and we receive His true Body and Blood.

Such realism of a first-storey character makes bold claims about the nature of the God whom we worship and how it is that we relate to Him. It’s removal from the “end of miracles” deism of some Biblicists could not be more complete.

There is a dialog that may take place between Christians and atheists. But there is, prior to that, an even more important dialog to be had, and that is with the practical atheism of Christians who have exiled God from the world around us. Such practical atheism is a severe distortion of the Christian faith and an extremely poor substitute for the real thing.

Richard John Neuhaus has written frequently of returning the Church to the public square. I think the problem is far deeper. In many cases we have to speak about returning God to the Church. In cases where practical atheism is the faith of a goup of “believers,” their presence in the public square makes no difference. Who cares?

But within the Orthodox faith, God cannot be exiled from our world no matter how men try. He has come among us, and not at our invitation. “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). He is already in the Public Square as the Crucified God who is reconciling the world to Himself, whether we like it or not. The opposite of practical atheism is to do the only thing the Christianity of the first-storey can do: keep His commandments and fall down and worship - for God is with us.


TOPICS: Catholic; Orthodox Christian; Theology; Worship
KEYWORDS: catholic; orthodox; theology; worship
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1 posted on 06/28/2008 9:38:51 AM PDT by annalex
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To: andysandmikesmom; Antoninus; ArrogantBustard; celticfreedom; CTK YKC; dan1123; DaveMSmith; ...
Such a group can be called “Biblicists,” or something, but, in the terminology I am using here, I would describe them as “practical atheists.” Though they had great, even absolutist, faith in the Holy Scriptures, they had no relationship with a God who is living and active and directly involved in their world. Had their notion of a God died, and left somebody else in charge of His heaven, it would not have made much difference so long as the rules did not change.

If you want to be on the Catholic Theology for non-Catholics list but are not on it already, or if you are on it but do not want to be, let me know either publicly or privately.

I am at a different computer, adn may not have the up-to-date ping list. If I missed you, I apologize.

Prevuiously posted:

On Salvation Outside the Catholic Church
The Great Heresies
SALVATION PAST, PRESENT, AND FUTURE
JUSTIFICATION IN CATHOLIC TEACHING
Hermits and Solitaries [Ecumenical]
THE PRIESTHOOD DEBATE
RIGHTEOUSNESS AND MERIT
A Well-Rounded Pope [Ecumenical]
A Monastery to Last 1,000 Years [Ecumenical]
Explaining Purgatory from a New Testament Perspective [Ecumenical]
In the Crosshairs of the Canon [How We Got The Bible] [Ecumenical]
'An Ordinance Forever' - The Biblical Origins of the Mass [Ecumenical]
Beginning Catholic: Church Authority In Scripture [Ecumenical]
Beginning Catholic: Catholic Tradition: Life in the Spirit [Ecumenical]

2 posted on 06/28/2008 9:46:48 AM PDT by annalex (http://www.catecheticsonline.com/CatenaAurea.php)
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To: annalex

bump for later..
Is this open or ecumenical?


3 posted on 06/28/2008 9:46:56 AM PDT by mnehring
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To: annalex

read later


4 posted on 06/28/2008 9:46:58 AM PDT by LiteKeeper (Beware the secularization of America; the Islamization of Eurabia)
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To: annalex
Old Irish joke:

(Ulster Gunman): What religion are you?

(Traveler): I'm an atheist sir.

(Ulster Gunman): Catholic atheist or Protestant atheist?

5 posted on 06/28/2008 9:50:50 AM PDT by Clemenza (Friggin in the Riggin...Friggin in the Riggin)
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To: mnehrling

Open.

When I post myself, I post open or caucus (on internal Catholic matters). The ecumenical threads on my list are posted by others.

I ask everyone to maintain a calm academic tone, stick to the topic, and generally behave as adults. I do not, however, expect anyone to sort out the “ecumenic” distinctions.


6 posted on 06/28/2008 9:51:19 AM PDT by annalex (http://www.catecheticsonline.com/CatenaAurea.php)
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To: Clemenza

:)))


7 posted on 06/28/2008 9:52:21 AM PDT by annalex (http://www.catecheticsonline.com/CatenaAurea.php)
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To: annalex
The ecumenical threads on my list are posted by others

That is not entirely accurate; I posted a couple of ecumenical threads on consecrated life, trying to avoid injury to personalities. My inclination is to stick to open, though.

8 posted on 06/28/2008 9:55:02 AM PDT by annalex (http://www.catecheticsonline.com/CatenaAurea.php)
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To: annalex

Thanks, just like to respect the wishes of the thread starters on the Religion forum. I know how touchy some of these threads can be. (not saying I am going to be rude, but if you wanted this Catholic only, I would respect that..)


9 posted on 06/28/2008 10:03:58 AM PDT by mnehring
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To: annalex
From the dialog at source:

Wonders for Oyarsa Says:
Fr. Stephen,

Wonderful post. I agreed with nearly everything you said, but was a little puzzled at this paragraph:

I would also suggest that the more secular the world becomes for Christians, the more political Christians will become. We will necessarily resort to the same tools and weapons as those who do not believe.

It seems that, as one moves towards a more wholistic view of the world, one is more inclined to see the political questions of the day as relevant to the gospel of Christ. Issues of the care for the earth, third-world debt, international justice, etc. become even more relevant as we realize just how much God’s loving presence fills our world, and how creation itself groans for the loving reign of the sons of God. That doesn’t mean we use the same weapons and tools as unbelievers, but it does mean we consider “political” issues as within the bounds of what the church can speak to.

Sophocles Says:
[...] I liked your speaking of some of our nation’s Founding Fathers as being Deists and not Christians. I, too, as an Evangelical would read “Providence” and assume I was hearing “God”. I assumed they were synonymous.

On another, separate note, it should be noted that many of our Founding Fahters were also Freemasons which would explain their opting for Deism, where the Supreme Being remains in shadow and has not become flesh, to be known amongst us as one of us.

Perhaps an interesting topic to pursue would be that if such is the case of our Founding Fathers, can America be considered to have been a “Christian Nation?”. As an Evangelical I used to believe(and preach) this but now, as you alluded to the use of believing in Concept rather than Person, I believe this may be closer to the truth.

[...]

fatherstephen Says:
Sophocles - excellent post! Thank you.

Wonders of Oyarsa - Yes, I think living on the first-storey with God does makes us far more aware of many things. But much that is political action or action by political bodies is only secular action, use of the power of the state for the ends of the state. Caesar will always be Caesar, I believe. We should care deeply about the things that matter, so deeply we do something and the something very likely should be more than vote. Though I do not advocate not voting. But voting and the Kingdom of God are not the same thing. When I think about these matters, I think about Christians becoming the answer rather than using the coercive power of the state to make someone else be the answer. Interestingly, one of the things I always liked best about St. Francis, was that during one of the Crusades, he simply took passage to the mideast and went to the court of the Sultan and witnessed to him about Christ. The Sultan listened and dismissed him, but did not kill him. It would be like looking for Osama Bin Laden in order to forgive him and tell him about Jesus. I can’t help but like such people and think there is more there than we allow.

When Christians have become a serious political force in the various states they have inhabited they have as often been coopted by the state as they have had an influence on the behavior of the state. As my Archbishop says, “On the whole, in Church State relations, we have not done so well when we were the state Church.”

Interesting example - British evangelicals, led by W.Wilberforce, outlawed slavery in the British realm decades befoe the American Civil War. But the slaveholders in America, were almost to a man, professed evangelical Christians. John Woolman, a Quaker, had preached dynamically and prophetically in the South about the coming disaster unless repentance was forthcoming. No repentance came from people who should have known better, and their land was reduced to rubble and has been better than a century recovering if it has yet recovered in some areas. Of course, these were two-storey Christians. I just can’t think of a lot of great examples of one-storey Christians who were political activists. There’s more conversation to be had…


10 posted on 06/28/2008 10:05:19 AM PDT by annalex (http://www.catecheticsonline.com/CatenaAurea.php)
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To: mnehrling
if you wanted this Catholic only

Not at all, this is a sharpest criticism of Protestantism I have seen in a while, and besides, the author is Orthodox. Here's true ecumenism for you...

11 posted on 06/28/2008 10:07:25 AM PDT by annalex (http://www.catecheticsonline.com/CatenaAurea.php)
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To: Kolokotronis

phronegmatically yours...


12 posted on 06/28/2008 10:08:03 AM PDT by annalex (http://www.catecheticsonline.com/CatenaAurea.php)
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To: annalex
Providence where a Christian might put God. Many modern evangelicals mistakenly read such statements as Christian.

he's also an idiot. "Providence" may have been highjacked by Deists later, but when very Protestant, Christian Roger Williams named his settlement Providence, that was not his concept. When the 2nd Continental Congress amended Jefferson to include the phrase " with firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor," they weren't atheists. This is anti-American propaganda by Father Stephen, and where's he from?

13 posted on 06/28/2008 10:37:27 AM PDT by gusopol3
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To: annalex

The priest who wrote this is, I believe, a convert and a well respected and prolific writer.

This is a supremely Orthodox piece and points up two things, I think. First, it is an example of the difference between and Orthodox and a Western phronema and second, it shows why it is hard to live in the Western world, supporting Western political systems and policies and remain an Orthodox Christian. Sometimes, no always but sometimes, Fr. Stephen astonishes me given his background.


14 posted on 06/28/2008 10:42:02 AM PDT by Kolokotronis (Christ is Risen, and you, o death, are annihilated)
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To: gusopol3

But Jefferson did edit the NT to remove things he didn’t believe actually happened...right?


15 posted on 06/28/2008 11:01:42 AM PDT by thefrankbaum (Ad maiorem Dei gloriam)
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To: thefrankbaum

Deists can have Jefferson in my book, though some dispute that. The Declaration was subjected to such severe editing by the committee of the whole on 7/2 and 7/3/1776 that Franklin had to comfort his young colleague with the story of the habberdasher’s sign.


16 posted on 06/28/2008 11:06:58 AM PDT by gusopol3
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To: gusopol3; Kolokotronis

Divine Providence is in itself, of course, a Christian concept. I don’t think Fr. Stephen implied otherwise. His concern is that with desacralization of Christianity, its opposite is very nearly reached.

I don’t know the Father personally; Kolokotronis thinks he is a convert to the Orthodox faith.


17 posted on 06/28/2008 11:07:51 AM PDT by annalex (http://www.catecheticsonline.com/CatenaAurea.php)
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To: annalex
mistakenly read such statements as Christian

then what do you propose this implies?

18 posted on 06/28/2008 11:10:15 AM PDT by gusopol3
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To: annalex; gusopol3

“I don’t know the Father personally; Kolokotronis thinks he is a convert to the Orthodox faith.”

He was, if I recall correctly, an Episcopalian priest.


19 posted on 06/28/2008 11:10:55 AM PDT by Kolokotronis (Christ is Risen, and you, o death, are annihilated)
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To: Kolokotronis

It points to the fundamental conflict between authentic Christianity — Latin or Eastern alike, and modernity. Protestantism and secularism are two attempts to reconcile what cannot be and it is now clear to many that they failed.

The Western Civilization has to be rebuild brick by brick, just like St. Anthony did once. Mechanically attaching a secular wing to a church, and calling is “society” is a naive project.


20 posted on 06/28/2008 11:15:38 AM PDT by annalex (http://www.catecheticsonline.com/CatenaAurea.php)
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To: annalex

then appling the term “anti American” is not hyperbole?


21 posted on 06/28/2008 11:17:27 AM PDT by gusopol3
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To: annalex

Christ said His Kingdom was not of this world.


22 posted on 06/28/2008 11:18:23 AM PDT by Tailgunner Joe
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To: gusopol3

That denial of incarnate miracle-working God is not Christian albeit Deism can be dressed up a bit to look so to an Evangelical eye.


23 posted on 06/28/2008 11:18:42 AM PDT by annalex (http://www.catecheticsonline.com/CatenaAurea.php)
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To: Kolokotronis; annalex

I believe it is a very interesting piece and the part that annalex highlighted speaks volumes about current iconoclast tendencies and the limits put on the Holy Trinity by many Christians who rebel against the Church.


24 posted on 06/28/2008 11:20:55 AM PDT by big'ol_freeper ("Preach the Gospel always, and when necessary use words". ~ St. Francis of Assisi)
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To: gusopol3
This is anti-American propaganda by Father Stephen

With a strong dose of Atheistic Historical Revisionism.

25 posted on 06/28/2008 11:21:12 AM PDT by loboinok (Gun control is hitting what you aim at!)
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To: annalex

To me the author sounds like Nietszche lamenting how Christians “killed” God by removing him from nature.


26 posted on 06/28/2008 11:21:43 AM PDT by Tailgunner Joe
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To: gusopol3

It is slanderous. Bin Laden is anti-American. First, I don’t know anyone who I’d consider an authentic Christian who would not want the America of the Founding Fathers and the Constitution back. Second, it is for the good of any nation to examine its roots every once in a while; such exercise cannot be considered anti- that nation.

His position is however, anti-secularist and anti-protestnat, yes. Good for him.


27 posted on 06/28/2008 11:23:43 AM PDT by annalex (http://www.catecheticsonline.com/CatenaAurea.php)
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To: Tailgunner Joe
His Kingdom was not of this world

Exactly. So where does it leave Christians?

28 posted on 06/28/2008 11:25:27 AM PDT by annalex (http://www.catecheticsonline.com/CatenaAurea.php)
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To: annalex
"Providence" did not imply that to the founders nor to an Evangelical today. God works miracles through providence, not through icons, bleeding statues or priests is the Protestant point of view, I would say. That begins at the exquisite uniqueness of conception , which we can at least understand in some degree, through every moment of our lives, when the uniqueness of the moment may be more difficult to appreciate. Fred Anderson's The War that Made America about the French and Indian War, although a secular history , is a profound contemplation of Providence and specifically George Washington's acknowledgement of that.
29 posted on 06/28/2008 11:28:28 AM PDT by gusopol3
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To: annalex

in the world, not of the world; John 17; “I pray not that thou shouldst take them out of the world,but that thou shouldst keep them from the evil one.” BTW , I actually meant no slander by “”anti-American.” I suppose the separatist Amish, whom I love,are “anti-American “ also in the way I meant it, though certainly you are right in that it’s better to reserve the term to OBL- like enemies.


30 posted on 06/28/2008 11:33:50 AM PDT by gusopol3
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To: gusopol3

You said: God works miracles through providence, not through icons, bleeding statues or priests is the Protestant point of view, I would say.

Your statement shows part of the problem I see with protestant beliefs. They always put limits on what God can and can’t do. Such a being is therefore limited vice infinite. Ultimately they put themselves in the place of God to decide what he can or can’t do.


31 posted on 06/28/2008 11:42:53 AM PDT by big'ol_freeper ("Preach the Gospel always, and when necessary use words". ~ St. Francis of Assisi)
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To: annalex

bookmark


32 posted on 06/28/2008 11:44:50 AM PDT by fightinJAG (RUSH: McCain was in the Hanoi Hilton longer than we've been in Iraq, and never gave up.)
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To: gusopol3
"Providence" did not imply that to the founders nor to an Evangelical today. God works miracles through providence, not through icons...

You are making Fr. Stephen's point.

33 posted on 06/28/2008 12:44:57 PM PDT by annalex (http://www.catecheticsonline.com/CatenaAurea.php)
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To: gusopol3

“in the world not of the world” better applies to a medieval monk than to a middle class American whose faith is reduced to a Wednesday Bible study and a Sunday sermon.


34 posted on 06/28/2008 12:47:48 PM PDT by annalex (http://www.catecheticsonline.com/CatenaAurea.php)
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To: annalex; gusopol3


St Anthony of Padua and St Francis of Assisi

Friedrich Pacher

1477
Tempera oan pine panel, 54,5 x 93,5 cm
Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest

I am fond of this painting.

35 posted on 06/28/2008 12:51:06 PM PDT by annalex (http://www.catecheticsonline.com/CatenaAurea.php)
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To: annalex

I see two major flaws in the father’s writing. One, he uses the term “practical atheist.” The definition of atheist by its very nature means a person who does not believe in God or any supreme being in any form. The individuals he is critiquing may be many things, but atheists they are not. If a person believes there is a God but that this God does, or does not, do thus and such, that in no way means they do not believe in God, only that they do not believe in God in the way orthodox Christians (and when I say orthodox I include Catholics and Protestants)believe. We can call them pagans or many other terms, but atheist is the improper term.

Two, he states that the more secular the world becomes for Christians, the more political Christians will become. Scripture tells us, “When the foundations crumble, what will the righteous do?” God wants us to keep our foundations strong and I believe with all my heart that the United States was brought about by divine, yes, providence; meaning that we would not be without God’s hand in this; and the only reason we are even what we are is because God has allowed it towards His good purposes. Just as He allowed the Holocaust to work towards His good purposes; one of which was the establishment of Israel as a nation.

There is a host of problems that go with being either only political or only religious. I would not want our political system to be run by ecclesiastical law for the simple reason that men are corrupt, whether secular or not.

I watched so many so-called Christians and Catholics do awful things over the years, the only reason it DOES NOT shake my faith is that it is not God who does these things and I know that. My husband’s sister threatened to sue him for some trivial matter(of course this was after her husband just graduated from law school this past year). In fact, we joked the other day that they have threatened to sue so many people, we have compiled a list of those they have NOT threatened to sue. So far, the list comprises the Pope and Casper. She has criticised me in the past because I am not a Catholic, yet she does not even know what the Catholic church teaches. She is, in fact, what I call a “cultural Catholic.” There are cultural Lutherans, cultural Jews and so on. They practice it only insofar as it occupies a certain realm in their life but they have no real understanding of the God who is living and active, the “God-Who-is-among-us” as this author states. These people occupy every denomination that ever existed.

Furthermore, after watching the debacle that occurred within the Catholic Church, wherein the Church moved priests they knew were practicing debauchery to unsuspecting parishes where these evil men could damage forever the souls of children, some of whom will NEVER go back to the Catholic church or any other church.

The deeper my faith, the more political I become. When I see what the 5 of the 9 judges on the SCOTUS are doing, I am going to be working very hard to stop more of these people from getting a lifetime appointment to destroy all that is good and sacred in this country. Of course, I pray, but like that one quote says, “Don’t be so heavenly minded that you are no earthly good.”

I think the father has it all wrong here. I think the deeper your faith becomes in God, the more you care and the more you see what is going on - how families are turning on each other; the natural affections they have are no longer there and so on. Yes, I am political and it is BECAUSE I love my Lord. It is no different than why I care for the hungry, those in prison, widows and orphans, and all other things Christ taught us to care about.


36 posted on 06/28/2008 12:56:16 PM PDT by Paved Paradise
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To: annalex

Hi Annalex - I posted you on this topic but had to tell you that I love this painting also. What is the deal with the hand wounds and the wound on the right side of the chest?

I don’t read German or Hungarian so I don’t know what it says.

Also, the one thing I don’t like about this painting is the way their hands have been done - too creepy - reminds me of “Nosferatu.”


37 posted on 06/28/2008 1:00:54 PM PDT by Paved Paradise
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To: Paved Paradise
The definition of atheist by its very nature means a person who does not believe in God or any supreme being in any form. The individuals he is critiquing may be many things, but atheists they are not.

This is what Fr. Stephen said:

I have here introduced the notion of “practical atheism,” meaning by it, that although a person may espouse a belief in God, it is quite possible for that belief to be so removed from everyday life, that God’s non-existence would make little difference.

It seems, he acknowledges that this "practical atheism" is not the same as internalized atheism of conviction. He simply says that it has the same effect to an outside observer.

On the second point, I think you object to what he did not propose. Of course Christians should be engaged in the political world. We've always have been. But he gives us a forgotten model of doing so, with personal witness, rather than relying on the modernistic model of democratic politics, or on military force. See his comments reproduced here at #10:

But much that is political action or action by political bodies is only secular action, use of the power of the state for the ends of the state. Caesar will always be Caesar, I believe. We should care deeply about the things that matter, so deeply we do something and the something very likely should be more than vote. Though I do not advocate not voting. But voting and the Kingdom of God are not the same thing. When I think about these matters, I think about Christians becoming the answer rather than using the coercive power of the state to make someone else be the answer. Interestingly, one of the things I always liked best about St. Francis, was that during one of the Crusades, he simply took passage to the mideast and went to the court of the Sultan and witnessed to him about Christ. The Sultan listened and dismissed him, but did not kill him. It would be like looking for Osama Bin Laden in order to forgive him and tell him about Jesus. I can’t help but like such people and think there is more there than we allow.

When Christians have become a serious political force in the various states they have inhabited they have as often been coopted by the state as they have had an influence on the behavior of the state. As my Archbishop says, “On the whole, in Church State relations, we have not done so well when we were the state Church.”


38 posted on 06/28/2008 1:11:03 PM PDT by annalex (http://www.catecheticsonline.com/CatenaAurea.php)
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To: annalex

I respected your implication not to be pejorative regarding Fr. Stephen’s anti-americanism; now you be equally as respectful of the spiritual life of those whom you caricature


39 posted on 06/28/2008 1:17:25 PM PDT by gusopol3
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To: Paved Paradise
Here's a write-up on the painting:

According to several scholars, Friedrich Pacher was the famous Michael Pacher's relative and collaborator. His style developed under the influence of Michael. This panel is one half of a predella which consisted of two parts for the representation of the most highly revered saints of the Franciscan order. The other side also depicts Franciscan saints. This panel adorned the lower, not very clearly visible, subordinate addition to a major altarpiece, hence the modest colour scheme content to forgo variety. Gaunt faces with strong cheek-bones, receding chins and thin lips are frequent in the master's oeuvre. The minutely elaborate broken folds, particularly at the elbows of sleeves, reveal the important part of sculpture in the activities of Michael Pacher, the most outstanding member of the studio, and also the deep absorption of sculptural forms in his style of far-reaching influence. The text giving the names of the donors and the date in fine Gothic minuscules occupies an outstanding place in the lower image field.

WGA.hu

The wounds are "stigmata", wounds of Christ miraculously appearing on some saints, most recently Padre Pio. The artist did not know it, but St. Francis received very unusual stigmata, -- they were protuberances of flesh in the shape resembling nails, rather than wounds as depicted.



St Francis Receiving the Stigmata

The Master of San Francesco Bardi

1240-50
Tempera on wood, 81 x 51 cm
Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence

40 posted on 06/28/2008 1:19:30 PM PDT by annalex (http://www.catecheticsonline.com/CatenaAurea.php)
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To: gusopol3

My spiritual life has the same limitations I describe generally in the American middle class.


41 posted on 06/28/2008 1:21:11 PM PDT by annalex (http://www.catecheticsonline.com/CatenaAurea.php)
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To: annalex

God bless us, everyone.


42 posted on 06/28/2008 1:38:11 PM PDT by gusopol3
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To: gusopol3; Paved Paradise

I have enjoyed reading your observations of Fr. Stephen’s comments since you both come at faith and religion from a different place than he does, or I do for that matter. There is very little similarity between Post Enlightenment (not necessarily Post Reformation) Protestant thinking and that of Orthodoxy. Three hundred million Eastern Christians, at least, think about the role of The Faith in individuals and society in a way that the Founders as products of the Enlightenment would never recognize. From an Orthodox point of view, they were indeed “practical atheists”. Let me give you one example, in Orthodoxy the concept of a God ordained Emperor is firmly entrenched. This isn’t to say that Orthodoxy is incompatible with democratic principles, by the way. The Founders would never accept the spiritual or social acceptability of a God ordained Emperor.


43 posted on 06/28/2008 2:32:30 PM PDT by Kolokotronis (Christ is Risen, and you, o death, are annihilated)
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To: big'ol_freeper; annalex

“I believe it is a very interesting piece and the part that annalex highlighted speaks volumes about current iconoclast tendencies and the limits put on the Holy Trinity by many Christians who rebel against the Church.”

The old heresies and quite a number of new, soul destroying ones, have spread epidemic like since the Enlightenment and now its an even bet if they will destroy Western culture. The Evil One is the greatest liar. He has convinced the West that he doesn’t exist and at the same time has also convinced Westerners that government or individuals within it, sua sponte, can save or destroy the culture, which, to me at least, is absurd.


44 posted on 06/28/2008 2:38:58 PM PDT by Kolokotronis (Christ is Risen, and you, o death, are annihilated)
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To: Kolokotronis
From an Orthodox point of view, they were indeed “practical atheists”.

True. There is really no practical difference between a pantheist, a deist, and an atheist. Exponents of monism (a kind of pantheism) sound like raving atheists most of the time. Deists sound like raving atheists when they talk about religion. In this regard it is interesting to examine the history of theology in 19th century Britain. We see Christians slowly giving up their Christian identity, and adopting the phraseology and posturing of deists and monists. And in some cases ridiculing "old-fashioned" stuff like piety and devotion Why? I suppose they wanted to seem hip with the times. Monism and Deism were identified with a new hip scientifically enlightened attitude. Miracles were out, chemistry and the periodic table were in. Forget the 10 commandments, we have Boyle's law. Science, scientists, and those who talked like scientists were the new idols and prophets. The 19th century was certainly one of the darkest eras of theology and human thought in general. We are inheritors of their problems.

45 posted on 06/29/2008 12:37:52 AM PDT by Ethan Clive Osgoode (<<== Click here to learn about Darwinism!)
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To: Ethan Clive Osgoode

“In this regard it is interesting to examine the history of theology in 19th century Britain. We see Christians slowly giving up their Christian identity, and adopting the phraseology and posturing of deists and monists.”

Yet there were also, in those days in England, great theologians, patristic theologians really, bishops like J.C. Ryle, who likely would have agreed with your observation, btw.
As for reaping today what was sowed then, I think you are exactly right, but our problems in the West go back further than the 19th century, to the enlightenment at least.


46 posted on 06/29/2008 3:32:47 AM PDT by Kolokotronis (Christ is Risen, and you, o death, are annihilated)
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To: Paved Paradise

I concur with your observation and the author’s regarding Deism vs. atheism.

I also assert those who lay claim to deism come closer to supporting an antiChristian belief, in its early stages than simple faith alone through Christ alone.

I suspect there was a time when many freemasons were Christian and sought to perform good works with fellow brethren, and this was possible still through faith in Christ. Today, I know very few masons whom even associate outwardly with Christ, and most are vocally antiChristian.

The largest impediment in the builder’s craft/art has been to succomb to their works independent of faith in Christ alone, but instead upon their own works and brethren’ first. While in its initial stages with the Founding Fathers, such a system might seem humanly good, it ostentatiously reveals its lack of divine good in its later stages of degeneracy.


47 posted on 06/29/2008 4:35:16 AM PDT by Cvengr (Adversity in life and death is inevitable. Thru faith in Christ, stress is optional.)
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To: annalex; All
This article is typical of the people who want to distort what the true nature of the country was at that time. They all want to talk about a few people like Jefferson being deists and or his letter about the wall of separation. This was all made possible by the lie that the founders came here for freedom of religion. Most of the colonist were here because of the reformation and they came here for the freedom to practice Protestant Christianity. 

A person doesn't have to look any further than the Constitutions of the original States to understand the mood of the people as a whole and how much they believed in state's rights.  That is why there is so little mention of Christianity in the Federal Constitution.

Here is some samples with just a little bit of digging on the net. If I can find this info, how come no one else seems to have a clue? Maybe it is because they know they have to get rid of God to get rid of those pesky God given rights in the Constitution!

 
Delaware;

 

ART. 22. Every person who shall be chosen a member of either house, or appointed to any office or place of trust, before taking his seat, or entering upon the execution of his office, shall take the following oath, or affirmation, if conscientiously scrupulous of taking an oath, to wit:

" I, A B. will bear true allegiance to the Delaware State, submit to its constitution and laws, and do no act wittingly whereby the freedom thereof may be prejudiced."

And also make and subscribe the following declaration, to wit:

" I, A B. do profess faith in God the Father, and in Jesus Christ His only Son, and in the Holy Ghost, one God, blessed for evermore; and I do acknowledge the holy scriptures of the Old and New Testament to be given by divine inspiration."

And all officers shall also take an oath of office

 

New Jersey

XVIII. That no person shall ever, within this Colony, be deprived of the inestimable privilege of worshipping Almighty God in a manner, agreeable to the dictates of his own conscience; nor, under any presence whatever, be compelled to attend any place of worship, contrary to his own faith and judgment; nor shall any person, within this Colony, ever be obliged to pay tithes, taxes, or any other rates, for the purpose of building or repairing any other church or churches, place or places of worship, or for the maintenance of any minister or ministry, contrary to what he believes to be right, or has deliberately or voluntarily engaged himself to perform.

XIX. That there shall be no establishment of any one religious sect in this Province, in preference to another; and that no Protestant inhabitant of this Colony shall be denied the enjoyment of any civil right, merely on account of his religious principles; but that all persons, professing a belief in the faith of any Protestant sect. who shall demean themselves peaceably under the government, as hereby established, shall be capable of being elected into any office of profit or trust, or being a member of either branch of the Legislature, and shall fully and freely enjoy every privilege and immunity, enjoyed by others their fellow subjects.

North Carolina
 
XIX. That all men have a natural and unalienable right to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their own consciences.
 
XXXI. That no clergyman, or preacher of the gospels of any denomination, shall be capable of being a member of either the Senate, House of Commons, or Council of State, while he continues in the exercise of the pastoral function.

XXXII.(5) That no person, who shall deny the being of God or the truth of the Protestant religion, or the divine authority either of the Old or New Testaments, or who shall hold religious principles incompatible with the freedom and safety of the State, shall be capable of holding any office or place of trust or profit in the civil department within this State.

XXXIV. That there shall be no establishment of any one religious church or denomination in this State, in preference to any other; neither shall any person, on any presence whatsoever, be compelled to attend any place of worship contrary to his own faith or judgment, nor be obliged to pay, for the purchase of any glebe, or the building of any house of worship, or for the maintenance of any minister or ministry, contrary to what he believes right, of has voluntarily and personally engaged to perform; but all persons shall be at liberty to exercise their own mode of worship: -- Provided, That nothing herein contained shall be construed to exempt preachers of treasonable or seditious discourses, from legal trial and punishment.
 
 
XXXIX. And whereas the ministers of the gospel are, by their profession, dedicated to the service of God and the care of souls, and ought not to be diverted from the great duties of their function; therefore, no minister of the gospel, or priest of any denomination whatsoever, shall, at any time hereafter, under any presence or description whatever, be eligible to, or capable of holding, any civil or military office or place within this State.
 
 
South Carolina;
 

XXXVIII. That all persons and religious societies who acknowledge that there is one God, and a future state of rewards and punishments, and that God is publicly to be worshipped, shall be freely tolerated. The Christian Protestant religion shall be deemed, and is hereby constituted and declared to be, the established religion of this State. That all denominations of Christian Protestants in this State, demeaning themselves peaceably and faithfully, shall enjoy equal religious and civil privileges. To accomplish this desirable purpose without injury to the religious property of those societies of Christians which are by law already incorporated for the purpose of religious worship, and to put it fully into the power of every other society of Christian Protestants, either already formed or hereafter to be formed, to obtain the like incorporation, it is hereby constituted, appointed, and declared that the respective societies of the Church of England that are already formed in this State for the purpose of religious worship shall still continue incorporate and hold the religious property now in their possession. And that whenever fifteen or more male persons, not under twenty-one years of age, professing the Christian Protestant religion, and agreeing to unite themselves In a society for the purposes of religious worship, they shall, (on complying with the terms hereinafter mentioned,) be, and be constituted a church, and be esteemed and regarded in law as of the established religion of the State, and on a petition to the legislature shall be entitled to be incorporated and to enjoy equal privileges. That every society of Christians so formed shall give themselves a name or denomination by which they shall be called and known in law, and all that associate with them for the purposes of worship shall be esteemed as belonging to the society so called. But that previous to the establishment and incorporation of the respective societies of every denomination as aforesaid, and in order to entitle them thereto, each society so petitioning shall have agreed to and subscribed in a book the following five articles, without which no agreement fir union of men upon presence of religion shall entitle them to be incorporated and esteemed as a church of the established religion of this State:

1st. That there is one eternal God, and a future state of rewards and punishments.

2d. That God is publicly to be worshipped.

3d. That the Christian religion is the true religion

4th. That the holy scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are of divine inspiration, and are the rule of faith and practice.

5th. That it is lawful and the duty of every man being thereunto called by those that govern, to bear witness to the truth.

And that every inhabitant of this State, when called to make an appeal to God as a witness to truth, shall be permitted to do it in that way which is most agreeable to the dictates of his own conscience. And that the people of this State may forever enjoy the right of electing their own pastors or clergy, and at the same time that the State may have sufficient security for the due discharge of the pastoral office, by those who shall be admitted to be clergymen, no person shall officiate as minister of any established church who shall not have been chosen by a majority of the society to which he shall minister, or by persons appointed by the said majority, to choose and procure a minister for them; nor until the minister so chosen and appointed shall have made and subscribed to the following declaration, over and above the aforesaid five articles, viz: "That he is determined by God's grace out of the holy scriptures, to instruct the people committed to his charge, and to teach nothing as required of necessity to eternal salvation but that which he shall be persuaded may be concluded and proved from the scripture; that he will use both public and private admonitions, as well to the sick as to the whole within his cure, as need shall require and occasion shall be given, and that he will be diligent in prayers, and in reading of the same; that he will be diligent to frame and fashion his own self and his family according to the doctrine of Christ, and to make both himself and them, as much as in him lieth, wholesome examples and patterns to the flock of Christ; that he will maintain and set forwards, as much as he can, quietness, peace, and love among all people, and especially among those that are or shall be committed to lids charge. No person shall disturb or molest any religious assembly; nor shall use any reproachful, reviling, or abusive language against any church, that being the certain way of disturbing the peace, and of hindering the conversion of any to the truth, by engaging them in quarrels and animosities, to the hatred of the professors, and that profession which otherwise they might be brought to assent to. To person whatsoever shall speak anything in their religious assembly irreverently or seditiously of the government of this State. No person shall, by law, be obliged to pay towards the maintenance and support of a religious worship that he does not freely join in, or has not voluntarily engaged to support. But the churches, chapels, parsonages, globes, and all other property now belonging to any societies of the Church of England, or any other religious societies, shall remain and be secured to them forever. The poor shall be supported, and elections managed in the accustomed manner, until laws shall be provided to adjust those matters in the most equitable way.

Vermont;

III. That all men have a natural and unalienable right to worship ALMIGHTY GOD, according to the dictates of their own consciences and understanding, regulated by the word of GOD; and that no man ought, or of right can be compelled to attend any religious worship, or erect, or support any place of worship, or maintain any minister, contrary to the dictates of his conscience; nor can any man who professes the protestant religion, be justly deprived or abridged of any civil right, as a citizen, on account of his religious sentiment, or peculiar mode of religious worship, and that no authority can, or ought to be vested in, or assumed by, any power whatsoever, that shall, in any case, interfere with, or in any manner controul, the rights of conscience, in the free exercise of religious worship: nevertheless, every sect or denomination of people ought to observe the Sabbath, or the Lord's day, and keep up, and support, some sort of religious worship, which to them shall seem most agreeable to the revealed will of GOD.

SECTION IX. A quorum of the house of representatives shall consist of two-thirds of the whole number of members elected; and having met and chosen their speaker, shall, each of them, before they proceed to business, take and subscribe, as well the oath of fidelity and allegiance herein after directed, as the following oath or affirmation, viz.

" I ____ do solemnly swear, by the ever living God, (or, I do solemnly affirm in the presence of Almighty God) that as a member of this assembly, I will not propose or assent to any bill, vote, or resolution, which shall appear to me injurious to the people; nor do or consent to any act or thing whatever, that shall have a tendency to lessen or abridge their rights and privileges, as declared in the Constitution of this State; but will, in all things' conduct myself as a faithful, honest representative and guardian of the people, according to the best of my judgment and abilities."

And each member, before he takes his seat, shall make and subscribe the following declaration, viz.

" I ____ do believe in one God, the Creator and Governor of the Diverse, the rewarder of the good and punisher of the wicked. And I do acknowledge the scriptures of the old and new testament to be given by divine inspiration, and own and profess the protestant religion."

And no further or other religious test shall ever, hereafter, be required of any civil officer or magistrate in this State.

SECTION XXVIII. That no person, shall be capable of holding any civil office, in this State, except he has acquired, and maintains a good moral character.

 SECTION XLI. Laws for the encouragement of virtue and prevention of vice and immorality, shall be made and constantly kept in force; and provision shall be made for their due execution; and all religious societies or bodies of men, that have or may be hereafter united and incorporated, for the advancement of religion and learning, or for other pious and charitable purposes, shall be encouraged and protected in the enjoyment of the privileges, immunities and estates which they, in justice, ought to enjoy, under such regulations; as the General Assembly of this State shall direct.

Virginia;

SEC. 15. That no free government, or the blessings of liberty, can be preserved to any people, but by a firm adherence to justice, moderation, temperance, frugality, and virtue, and by frequent recurrence to fundamental principles.

SEC. 16. That religion, or the duty which we owe to our Creator, and the manner of discharging it, can be directed only by reason and conviction, not by force or violence; and therefore all men are equally entitled to the free exercise of religion, according to the dictates of conscience; and that it is the mutual duty of all to practice Christian forbearance, love, and charity towards each other.

 

New York;

More clarification as to why ministers were more important as teachers of the gospel then to be in government.

XXI. And whereas the ministers of the gospel are by their profession dedicated to the service of God and the cure of souls, and ought not to be diverted from the great duties of their function, therefore no minister of the gospel or public preacher of any religious persuasion, while he continues in the exercise of his pastoral function, and for two years after, shall be eligible either as governor, lieutenant-governor, a member of the senate, house of representatives, or privy council in this State.

You will have a hard time finding a hint of deism or atheism in these people but it does show how well the brainwash media and education system has worked that few if any will ever hear of this..

I had to laugh when I found a site that stated that all of these mentions of Christianity only showed just how intolerant the founders were while trying to say we aren't a Judaeo-Christian nation..

48 posted on 06/29/2008 10:24:08 PM PDT by Bobsvainbabblings
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To: Kolokotronis; Ethan Clive Osgoode
to the enlightenment at least.

Yes.

The Western Civilization took a wrong turn about 500 years ago, with the Plague, the Reformation, and the abuses of absolute monarchy. We shall have to backtrack and find the right direction out of the Middle Age, I think. XIX c. was a mixed bag: for the root of the decay one has to go deeper back, and for the worst manifestation of the rot XXc was scarier.

49 posted on 06/29/2008 11:06:13 PM PDT by annalex (http://www.catecheticsonline.com/CatenaAurea.php)
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To: Cvengr

Do you think that at any point out of the Middle Ages the Lodge was intentionally Christian?


50 posted on 06/29/2008 11:08:03 PM PDT by annalex (http://www.catecheticsonline.com/CatenaAurea.php)
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