How good is Christianity at making Christ-like people anyway?

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Lucidity
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How good is Christianity at making Christ-like people anyway?

Post by Lucidity » Tue Apr 09, 2019 10:17 pm

Last year I spent some time in China, and although I have traveled to many countries this was my first time overseas as a non-TBM.
One of the things that struck me was generally how Christlike these non-Christians were. Now obviously the attributes generally stressed in Christianity are not unique to Christianity. Nor are kindness, charity, etc. unique to the people of China, followers of a particular religion or non-religion for that matter.

But therein lies the rub. Why?

Sure it’s clear that most humans are born with, and innately value these win win attributes. But assuming humans can be influenced by their culture and religious traditions to cultivate these virtues, why do we not see Christian cultures having a unique level of attainment of these virtues?? Or do we?

So just how good is Christianity at doing this? Is it better at developing Christlike people than other religions or non-religious cultures? Does Christianity do what it was intended to do by creating better people than say Shintoism or Sikhism? Or was it every really intended to do this? Maybe believing in Christ is and always was the real focus. After all just how good can people really be anyway?

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Hagoth
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Re: How good is Christianity at making Christ-like people anyway?

Post by Hagoth » Wed Apr 10, 2019 6:06 am

I think one of the biggest problems, especially with western religious traditions, is that what you believe and how you believe it is far more important than how you behave. I have known very "Christ-like" atheists and extremely un-Christ-like Christians. In fact, and I know I've said this before, it seems to me that the most un-Christ-like people are those who go around wearing Jesus on their sleeve as some sort of justification for dickish behavior.

If you want Christ-like, atheist Buddhists might be a good place to start.
“The easy confidence with which I know another man's religion is folly teaches me to suspect that my own is also.” -Mark Twain

Jesus: "The Kingdom of God is within you." The Buddha: "Be your own light."

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felixfabulous
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Re: How good is Christianity at making Christ-like people anyway?

Post by felixfabulous » Wed Apr 10, 2019 10:08 am

Great quote from Nietzsche:

“I might believe in the Redeemer if his followers looked more redeemed.”

But, as Blazing Saddles reminds us, we should take Nietzsche with a grain of salt https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=On73aHpgdSQ

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Palerider
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Re: How good is Christianity at making Christ-like people anyway?

Post by Palerider » Wed Apr 10, 2019 10:31 am

Lucidity wrote:
Tue Apr 09, 2019 10:17 pm

But therein lies the rub. Why?
From one Christian's perspective:

Romans 2:14

"For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves:

15 Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness...."

So when John states that the "light of Christ" is given to everyone who is born into this life, it shows me this inclination towards goodness, charity and kindness is an integral part of our spiritual DNA. We are God related.

But here's the problem. As mankind advanced through the ages, cultures began to develop "norms" or more's. As in all humans there is also a tendency to exploit or take advantage of others by creating some norms that are self-serving and corrupt.

Through Israel, God determined to "codify" for a backward people what was acceptable behavior. And they, like many around them, were pretty hard of learning. Therefore there were severe penalties attached to the "Law".

The Law was given on a trifecta of levels:

1. Moral

2. Ritual/statutory

3. Dietary

But as I hinted at before, here is where the problem begins. As soon as the Law is codified, people begin to tinker with and expand the Law. They begin to "measure" righteousness by outward appearances and pedantic obedience. "How many earrings are appropriate? Where's your white shirt?"

The Law actually helps to bring order and a measure of civility to society but it doesn't necessarily "create" righteousness in the heart, as you pointed out. Additionally some people cannot leave the Law alone. They feel compelled to ADD TO THE LAW in a misplaced/misguided effort towards perfect righteousness, brought about by personal effort rather than through a spiritual sanctification slowly wrought by God and finished only by Him through an Atonement of Grace combined with works that are initiated in one's HEART. Not by being ASSIGNED from a Pharisaical leadership.

Learning, identifying and then making unauthorized expansion to the Law, by itself will only lead one to become self-righteous and judgemental of others.

If everyone would live according to the Light of Christ that is written in their hearts, the Law might not have been necessary. An Atonement and revelation regarding God and our relationship to Him might have sufficed.

But all people don't live that way. Therefore the Law was necessary, in spite of people's tendency to abuse and corrupt it. Better to have it as a way to help order civilizations than to exist in total chaos?

And I believe that's why many cultures not associated with Judahism or Christianity have kindness, charity and other virtues manifested in their norms and behaviors. It is the commonality of God's influence that is written in their hearts.

But that's just me.... ;)
"There is but one straight course, and that is to seek truth and pursue it steadily."

"Truth will ultimately prevail where there is pains to bring it to light."

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Mad Jax
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Re: How good is Christianity at making Christ-like people anyway?

Post by Mad Jax » Wed Apr 10, 2019 2:31 pm

Hagoth wrote:
Wed Apr 10, 2019 6:06 am
I think one of the biggest problems, especially with western religious traditions, is that what you believe and how you believe it is far more important than how you behave.
Salient post. I couldn't have said it half as well.
Free will is a golden thread flowing through the matrix of fixed events.

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Mad Jax
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Re: How good is Christianity at making Christ-like people anyway?

Post by Mad Jax » Wed Apr 10, 2019 2:42 pm

I think you have to look to nature for these answers. This is going to be a gross oversimplification, but it's generally accepted that nature selected humans with cooperative attributes (due to the likelihood of survival increasing), out of which manifested attributes such as self sacrifice and the ability to postpone or eschew gratification, which led to attributes such as kindness and altruism, etc.

But in turn, this can also cause selection for an overwhelming desire for conformity, since that also favors survival, which can lead to things like mob mentality and unquestioning adherence to authority. And in regards, I believe this is why there are different stripes of Christians in a religion that contains commandments of contrasting temperament. The response to doctrine is often influenced by genetic disposition to a large degree.
Free will is a golden thread flowing through the matrix of fixed events.

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Lucidity
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Re: How good is Christianity at making Christ-like people anyway?

Post by Lucidity » Wed Apr 10, 2019 10:32 pm

Great thoughts. One of my first realizations after the collapse of my shelf was that this rigid, dogmatic, enshrining of the law is actually a form of creating a false God, and is spiritually stunting. A sort of worshipping at the alter of obedience rather than prioritizing personal growth. Blind obedience becomes the currency many religions deal in.

Then we have the chicken or the egg questions. I agree that the common cultural and religious value of these virtues arise because they they are “written on the heart”. Whether this be from a purely naturalistic source or a sort of divine spark or influence, they appear to be innate, and as humans continue to evolve these attribute/virtues become more and more highly valued.

My personal belief is that all religion is man made, but in a strange way this does not mean it could not also be divine. Maybe there is something divine in us that pushes us toward these things. Maybe this is just the direction complex organism move over time.

In the end of Robert Wright’s book “The Evolution of God” he proposes the theory that a force could be drawing humanity and perhaps all life, as it increases on complexity, toward a realization of these virtues. It’s hard to deny this movement is occurring. If divine this Panentheistic concept is more in line with Hinduism than the Abraham’s faiths, but I do find it to be a powerful and quite lovely idea

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Palerider
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Re: How good is Christianity at making Christ-like people anyway?

Post by Palerider » Thu Apr 11, 2019 9:41 am

I'm sure others here can educate me on this concept but it seems to me that if, as one atheist has put it, we are simply "dancing to our DNA", then any course taken by humanity has to be acceptable no matter which direction it goes. The evolution of a "moral" conscience doesn't automatically make that path any more legitimate than that taken by Mao, Stallin, Pol pot, or Hitler. What if our genetic purpose as an evolving "organism" of humans is to turn Earth into the planet Mars? What if that's the way the universe works? Isn't that the genetic mission of Ebola regarding the human body? Can we blame the Ebola virus for doing it's programed job?

When looked at from a million miles away in space it's hard to detect that the miniscule human bugs even exist on Earth. So how can anything we do here on this speck of dust in the Milkyway Galaxy really have any significance whatsoever? We are unseen bacteria on a humming bird egg.
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I live on the edge of an area that has a population of Grizzly bears. Grizzlies have a unique nature that simply isn't understood by the vast majority of Americans. Most Americans think that if you don't start something with the bear, it will likely leave you alone or run away. That theory is extremely naive.

Grizzlies are territorial. They don't like to share their space or what they have come to consider their food. And mother bears are extremely, some would say overly, protective of their young.
So if I take an elk during hunting season and have to retrieve part of that animal the following day, there's a chance that a bear could claim that animal during the night. I might not be aware that has occurred until it is too late. But the bear has to be the bear. And I, because I have grown a conscience, have to decide how to handle that situation. According to the "law" the government would prefer that I be benevolent towards the bear.

But the government isn't standing there next to me facing an angry Grizzly. They're back in their office sitting on their fat, idealistic, bureaucratic asses thinking up new ways to make my life more difficult.

The bear is just doing what bears do. Dancing to his DNA. It's sad that he hasn't evolved a conscience yet. I would feel so much better if he had. I could tell him how much I admire him. His strength and beauty. He's terribly impressive. I'm glad he's on the planet with me. He's not an "Evil" bear. Just a dangerous bear.

Evil is generally only spoken of in regards to a person. But if we are, like the bear, only dancing to our genetic set of instructions....how can any of us be considered evil or how can any of our actions be evil?

Ask any homicide cop and they will tell you about "evil". They have no doubts when it comes to the use of that label.

Does evil exist as a component of natural selection? Do "complex beings" develop or evolve the idea of "evil" to describe what is really genetically programmed nonconformity? Is non-conformity really evil then? Does evil really exist?

Do goodness and kindness really exist or are they actually just genetically programmed conformity? Are we just genetically advanced bears doing what advanced bears do?
"There is but one straight course, and that is to seek truth and pursue it steadily."

"Truth will ultimately prevail where there is pains to bring it to light."

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moksha
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Re: How good is Christianity at making Christ-like people anyway?

Post by moksha » Thu Apr 11, 2019 10:28 pm

Lucidity wrote:
Tue Apr 09, 2019 10:17 pm
Last year I spent some time in China, and although I have traveled to many countries this was my first time overseas as a non-TBM. One of the things that struck me was generally how Christlike these non-Christians were.
Youtubers SerpentZA and Laowhy86 have made the point that there are many wonderful people in China, but the qualities these people have is not based in Christianity or possibly any religion. They much like the Good Samaritan possess these qualities separate from any creedal litmus test or ceremony. Of course, when any such people act too good they are ground down by the likes of the Wu Mao Army and the Honors Code Office.

Hagoth wrote:
Wed Apr 10, 2019 6:06 am
If you want Christ-like, atheist Buddhists might be a good place to start.
If you see Buddha approaching you on a bridge, wave and say "hi".
Good faith does not require evidence, but it also does not turn a blind eye to that evidence. Otherwise, it becomes misplaced faith.
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Re: How good is Christianity at making Christ-like people anyway?

Post by Just This Guy » Mon Apr 15, 2019 11:02 am

I would say that if you look at it's history, Christianity does a very poor job of teaching people to lead Christlike lives.

Here is a quick list of things that were done under the name of Christ.

Crusades (1-5 Million dead)
Spanish Inquisition (2000 dead)
30 Years War (5-10 Million dead)
King Henry VIII (81 burned at the stake)
Body Mary's reintroduction of Catholicism in England. (300+ burned at the stake)
Spanish Colonization (estimated 30 Million dead)
Salem Which Trials (200 accused, 19 killed.)
Slavery in the America (commonly used as justification)
Manifest Destiny (50,000-200,000 Dead)

You can go on for quite a while. Humanity in general has a terrible time with being nice to each other. Religion is just one of many excuses used to justify it.
"The story so far: In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move." -- Douglas Adams

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Re: How good is Christianity at making Christ-like people anyway?

Post by Palerider » Mon Apr 15, 2019 1:42 pm

Just This Guy wrote:
Mon Apr 15, 2019 11:02 am
I would say that if you look at it's history, Christianity does a very poor job of teaching people to lead Christlike lives.

Here is a quick list of things that were done under the name of Christ.

Crusades (1-5 Million dead)
Spanish Inquisition (2000 dead)
30 Years War (5-10 Million dead)
King Henry VIII (81 burned at the stake)
Body Mary's reintroduction of Catholicism in England. (300+ burned at the stake)
Spanish Colonization (estimated 30 Million dead)
Salem Which Trials (200 accused, 19 killed.)
Slavery in the America (commonly used as justification)
Manifest Destiny (50,000-200,000 Dead)

You can go on for quite a while. Humanity in general has a terrible time with being nice to each other. Religion is just one of many excuses used to justify it.
This may be a bit of an oversimplification of "Christianity".

Up until the Reformation Ecclesiastic control of the Scriptures made the masses dependent upon what their authoritarian leadership told them what was "Christian". And it took many years for the masses to free themselves from the corrupt control of their priesthood and ministers.

Having the Bible published and available to the common man not only aided in refuting much of that corruption but it also encouraged literacy among the masses. Martin Luther's German translation actually helped to codify the German language.

My point is that I'm careful to place blame for the lousy things done over the centuries in the name of "Christianity" where it belongs, which is on corrupt, misguided, prejudiced leaders who for their own greed and gratification committed atrocities.

By comparison let's look at some of historys great atheists:

Mao's "Great Leap Forward" campaign created the biggest famine China ever experienced killing between 20-45 million people. And that's not counting all of the counter-revolutionaries he had executed.

Stalin is thought to have killed upwards of 9 million although estimates vary depending on who you talk to and whether you include deaths caused by famine under his leadership.

Do we even need to mention Hitler here?

Anyone paying attention to what the Islamists are currently up to and have done over the years?

I'm not excusing in any way what has been done in the name of Christianity. It's amazing what havoc one can accomplish with corrupt leaders and ignorant followers. But I don't think it's fair to make a blanket statement that also ignores the great things that have been done by INDIVIDUAL Christians over the centuries.
"There is but one straight course, and that is to seek truth and pursue it steadily."

"Truth will ultimately prevail where there is pains to bring it to light."

George Washington

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Re: How good is Christianity at making Christ-like people anyway?

Post by moksha » Mon Apr 15, 2019 4:40 pm

Palerider wrote:
Mon Apr 15, 2019 1:42 pm
Do we even need to mention Hitler here?
I remember seeing this documentary where Hitler had some of his agents trying to capture the Ark of the Covenant which was buried in some ancient Egyptian tomb. The plan was to ship it back to Berlin and have this French archeologist dress up as a Jewish Priest and recite the proper incantations in order to weaponize the Ark for the battlefield. Fortunately, this plan went awry and the Ark ended up in some box in the Smithsonian warehouse.
Good faith does not require evidence, but it also does not turn a blind eye to that evidence. Otherwise, it becomes misplaced faith.
-- Moksha

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Palerider
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Re: How good is Christianity at making Christ-like people anyway?

Post by Palerider » Mon Apr 15, 2019 8:14 pm

moksha wrote:
Mon Apr 15, 2019 4:40 pm
Palerider wrote:
Mon Apr 15, 2019 1:42 pm
Do we even need to mention Hitler here?
I remember seeing this documentary where Hitler had some of his agents trying to capture the Ark of the Covenant which was buried in some ancient Egyptian tomb. The plan was to ship it back to Berlin and have this French archeologist dress up as a Jewish Priest and recite the proper incantations in order to weaponize the Ark for the battlefield. Fortunately, this plan went awry and the Ark ended up in some box in the Smithsonian warehouse.
Ah! I remember that documentary. Unfortunately for the Nazis the phony Highpriest recited the wrong prayer over the Ark of the Covenant. The prayer he recited is the one to be said over the synagogue Ark holding the modern day Torah. Here's a translation:

“I do not rely on man, and I do not depend on any angel…but on the God of truth whose Torah is true…I rely on Him, and to His holy and precious name…praises.”

;)
"There is but one straight course, and that is to seek truth and pursue it steadily."

"Truth will ultimately prevail where there is pains to bring it to light."

George Washington

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Lucidity
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Re: How good is Christianity at making Christ-like people anyway?

Post by Lucidity » Tue Apr 16, 2019 11:48 am

Palerider wrote:
Mon Apr 15, 2019 1:42 pm
Just This Guy wrote:
Mon Apr 15, 2019 11:02 am
I would say that if you look at it's history, Christianity does a very poor job of teaching people to lead Christlike lives.

Here is a quick list of things that were done under the name of Christ.

Crusades (1-5 Million dead)
Spanish Inquisition (2000 dead)
30 Years War (5-10 Million dead)
King Henry VIII (81 burned at the stake)
Body Mary's reintroduction of Catholicism in England. (300+ burned at the stake)
Spanish Colonization (estimated 30 Million dead)
Salem Which Trials (200 accused, 19 killed.)
Slavery in the America (commonly used as justification)
Manifest Destiny (50,000-200,000 Dead)

You can go on for quite a while. Humanity in general has a terrible time with being nice to each other. Religion is just one of many excuses used to justify it.
This may be a bit of an oversimplification of "Christianity".
I have to agree that this is reductionist.

I’m currently reading a dense book on the Crusades and even in these religion vs religion conflicts the motivation is rarely religious. Power, influence, wealth (either increasing it or maintaining it) are usually the underlying motives, wrapped up in the guise of whatever “justifiable cause” can be used to help accomplish this. Religion is often a useful and convenient path to accomplish this.

Zealous religious people may more easily fall pray to being manipulated for these purposes, but deep ideology in any form can more easily be manipulated to serve this purpose.

People are naturally tribal and tend to create “us vs them” dynamics. Humans are engineered to use reason and logic to justify and substantiate their inclinations and impulses, not the other way around.

The form of government and a people’s ability to decide the actions of that government are a far greater factor than say whether or not a nation is particularly religious. Just look how Liberal Democracies rarely have conflicts with other legitimate democratic societies. When people aren’t subject to the whims and ambitions of dictators, monarchs, theocrats(RMN?)etc, most nations, and individuals chose to resolve differences without violence.

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Re: How good is Christianity at making Christ-like people anyway?

Post by dogbite » Tue Apr 16, 2019 4:19 pm

Yeah, I don't think that becoming Christlike has a strong presence in the history of Christianity if any presence at all until a more contemporary era.

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Hagoth
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Re: How good is Christianity at making Christ-like people anyway?

Post by Hagoth » Wed Apr 17, 2019 12:17 pm

Religion via assumed authority can be a great excuse for getting what you want in a way that is fundamentally opposed to what that religion's founder actually taught.

I think just about any religion well and effectively lived can help you become more "Christ-like." As can a non-religious but compassionate life. It's not so much what the organization promises as what you bring to the table.
“The easy confidence with which I know another man's religion is folly teaches me to suspect that my own is also.” -Mark Twain

Jesus: "The Kingdom of God is within you." The Buddha: "Be your own light."

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Mad Jax
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Re: How good is Christianity at making Christ-like people anyway?

Post by Mad Jax » Wed Apr 17, 2019 6:00 pm

Just This Guy wrote:
Mon Apr 15, 2019 11:02 am
I would say that if you look at it's history, Christianity does a very poor job of teaching people to lead Christlike lives.

Here is a quick list of things that were done under the name of Christ.

Crusades (1-5 Million dead)
...
You can go on for quite a while. Humanity in general has a terrible time with being nice to each other. Religion is just one of many excuses used to justify it.
Gotta disagree on that one. The Crusades are pretty much the most justified series of wars (from European perspective) that have ever been fought. At least the first few.
Free will is a golden thread flowing through the matrix of fixed events.

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Mad Jax
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Re: How good is Christianity at making Christ-like people anyway?

Post by Mad Jax » Wed Apr 17, 2019 6:04 pm

I know some historians consider the Reconquista as interlinked with the Crusades, and I'd add that to the list of just wars generally considered to be religiously motivated.
Free will is a golden thread flowing through the matrix of fixed events.

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